Turf war looms over who would have law enforcement power of a NH casino
Local police should have the primary law enforcement responsibility inside a casino as well as outside, a representative of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police said Tuesday.
Under the bill, State Police would establish a gaming enforcement unit with primary responsibility to enforce state laws, regulations and rules on a casino floor and in restricted areas such as the counting rooms and monitoring areas.
"If a casino is licensed by the state, it is a creation of the state and the state ought to have control over the law enforcement," he told the committee.
"We would look pretty foolish if we can't do anything," Sweeney told the committee. "This would ensure we are not just another pretty face."
Under questioning from several committee members, Sweeney said his agency is not absolutely sure it needs 30 additional troopers, but wanted to err on the higher end. If all the troopers are not needed, they could be used by other departments, he said.
"I suspect it will cost less," Sweeney said. "As you know, like all fiscal notes, you stick your finger up in the air and wet it."
He said local communities have to approve the casino and would support its police handling the oversight, and added casinos would have their own security forces.
"Why should the state provide security for a private monopoly?" Edwards said.
Checks and balances
Earlier, the committee heard from Maureen Williamson of WhiteSands Gaming LLC, the consultant hired by the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority to help draft the proposed legislation.
The bill would establish a gaming commission to oversee all gambling in the state, including the Lottery, racing and charitable gambling and a casino, under three separate divisions. "That way you retain the institutional memory with a consistent approach to gaming in New Hampshire with the same controls for charitable and commercial gaming," she told the committee.
She noted the Attorney General's Office conducts background investigations into the applicants for casino operator and makes a recommendation to the commission, which will make the final decision.
He noted the state has a long-standing statute that gives the attorney general authority to prohibit someone from holding a state license.
"What is in the bill is what works very effectively nationally and internationally," she said.