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January 22. 2013 10:10PM

Berlin mayor backs a casino in New Hampshire

BERLIN - Mayor Paul Grenier said Tuesday that he is in favor of a high-end casino in the state - even if the gaming facility is not located in the North Country.

Grenier made those remarks after District 1 state Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, stopped by the Berlin City Council meeting Monday night to give an update on his work on proposed legislation that would give the go-ahead for expanded gambling in the state.

The council, which did not take a vote on the issue, has supported casino gambling in the past.

"I think it's good for the state," Grenier said, adding that New Hampshire has a huge revenue problem. The state has increased the amount towns and cities have to put into the state retirement system, and failed to come through with promised funds for sewer and water improvements, he said.

Grenier said he understands that if only a single casino is allowed in the state, it will likely be near the Massachusetts border, probably at Rockingham Park in Salem.

"That seems to be where things are going," he said.

But with bordering states offering expanded gaming, New Hampshire residents are, and will be, going elsewhere to spend that money, he said.

"Let's at least take the revenue," Grenier said.

Woodburn told the council that the bill, which does not have a Senate bill number as yet, would direct that tax revenue generated by a casino be used for three purposes: highways, higher education and North Country economic development.

"This is a major commitment and permanent investment in the North Country to create jobs and economic opportunity," Woodburn said in a prepared statement. "With the ultimate passage of this bill - and the establishment of a single casino - the North Country will benefit from every dollar spent at this new facility."

syoungknox@newstote.com


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