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March 28. 2012 4:09PM

Expanded gambling goes down in the House

CONCORD – True to its history, the House defeated a proposal for expanded gambling to include video slot machines and table games in four casinos.

The House failed to approve the proposal — House Bill 593 — on a 195-154 vote after a little more than a half-hour debate. The House then voted 236-108 to kill the bill.

The House has never approved any proposal for casinos nor video slot machines, including one proposed by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester, based on a proposal from former Senator and now Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, which would have the state run the casinos.

Supporters said HB 593 would provide good-paying jobs, reduce business taxes, maintain charity gambling revenues and put millions of dollars into the state general fund.

They said the time is ripe for New Hampshire to reap the benefits of expanded gambling, particularly with Massachusetts' decision to expand gambling.

But opponents said the state would give away far too many of its assets to the gambling and casino interests, would invite corruption and crime, and would hurt the state's most vulnerable citizens.

“Why are we messing around with a good thing? Don't screw it up,” said Rep. David Hess, R-Hooksett. “Let's put this sucker to rest.”

The Senate has its own gambling bill but has held it until the House took action on HB 593.

Gov. John Lynch said he would veto HB 593 if it made its way to his desk.


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