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Senate to vote on New Hampshire gambling bill


CONCORD — The Senate will again vote on a bill to expand gambling Thursday, this time at a specific site, largely to benefit cities and towns through revenue sharing.

Senate Bill 551 would allow for one casino at Rockingham Park in Salem and produce about $100 million in state revenue a year, according to the bill’s prime sponsor Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester.

The Senate has passed several casino gambling bills in recent years while the House has yet to approve a casino.

The past few years, Gov. Maggie Hassan has pushed for one high-end, highly-regulated casino on the state’s southern border but to date has been stymied by the House.

Under SB 551, up to 3,500 video lottery machines and up to 160 table games would be allowed at the Salem site.

The state Lottery Commission would regulate the casino, which would turn over 35 percent of its gross video game revenue and 18 percent of the table game revenue to the state.

Of the state’s share, Salem would receive 3 percent; abutting communities, Rockingham County and problem gambler treatment programs would each receive 1 percent, and the remaining money would go to revenue sharing to its legal limit.

The rest of the money would go into the gaming regulatory fund.

All of the procedures and regulatory oversight is the same, D’Allesandro said, with the Lottery Commission having full control.

“I’m searching for the votes,” D’Allesandro said Wednesday. “This is a new bill with a site specific. Eighty percent of the people in Salem support it and want it. This (is) the right time.”

Under D’Allesandro’s bill, the original license to operate the casino would cost $80 million and be good for 10 years. Renewing the license would cost $1.5 million.

grayno@unionleader.com