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March 05. 2014 6:00PM

Bill to tighten NH charity gaming regulations gets OK from House

CONCORD — The House on Wednesday approved a bill that would tighten regulations and controls over the charitable gaming industry.

Supporters say House Bill 1630 would provide greater transparency and the assurance of integrity for those playing the games, the beneficiaries and the state.

The bill was proposed after the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority last year reviewed current gaming in the state and concluded the regulatory scheme is not sufficient to determine how much is bet at the state’s 10 charitable gaming facilities.

And the authority said the state lacks controls to determine if the games are run fairly or if charities and the state receive all the money due.

Three authority members introduced HB 1633 to provide greater oversight over the industry, to control video gaming machines now regulated by local communities or “gray machines” and to establish a commission to take a greater in-depth look at the industry and the state’s regulatory role.

Rep. Richard Ames, R-Jaffrey, who chaired the authority and is the prime sponsor of the bill, said it improves the regulation of charitable gaming by requiring greater financial record-keeping and reporting, more background investigations by the Attorney General and establishes a more comprehensive licensing scheme.

The Racing and Charity Gaming Commission has tried for years to tighten regulations and requirements but lawmakers have failed to agree on the bills.

When the law was changed to allow facilities to host charity gaming events, the charities were to receive a guaranteed 35 percent of the net earnings, but the charities’ take eroded over time.

Charitable gaming produced more than $13 million for state charities during the 2013 fiscal year.

The bill now goes to the Senate for action.

grayno@unionleader.com


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