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Updated: Senate panel aims to tighten the rules on charitable gaming

CONCORD -- As a Senate panel voted Tuesday to approve casino gambling and pass the bill onto the full Senate next week, the state's 12 licensed charitable gaming operations also got a closer look.


Games of chance generate about $75 million in wagers a year, according to the New Hampshire Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission, with charities receiving about $13 million.


Under a bill the Senate Ways and Means Committee OK'd 5-0, charitable gaming operators would be prohibited from charging charities fees for such things as rent, security and administration. Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said the legislature always intended charities to receive 35 percent of the proceeds.


"The intent was to increase the percentage going back to charities," Morse said. "No one wanted to put it in place so the vendors could get rich."


Information supplied by Paul Kelley, director of the New Hampshire Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission, indicated that charities were charged over $211,000 in rent over a 12-month period and $386,000 in total fees, which reduced the average percentage of revenue to 32.3 percent instead of the required 35 percent.


Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bob Odell, R-Lempster, said some operators don't charge fees, but others do. The legislation would level the playing field, he said.


Senate Bill 75 will go before the full Senate later this month for a preliminary vote. If it passes, it will be reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee before a final vote.

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