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House committee bets against casinos — again
The committee voted 11-9 Tuesday to kill Senate Bill 366, which would have established two casinos with 5,000 video slot machines and 240 table games.
The House is expected to vote on SB 366 next week.
Casino gambling has twice passed the Senate in this two-year term, but has been killed in the House, which has never voted for casino gambling.
Supporters of SB 366 said the state needs the money while doing nothing will cost New Hampshire when Massachusetts opens its casinos.
“I am convinced we are not going to get reliable revenue from this bill,” said committee chairman Rep. Susan Almy, D-Lebanon. “Casinos depend on the money they get off of gambling addicts … and they destroy business and they destroy their families.”
Revenue sharing promise
The bill would also re-establish revenue sharing with cities and towns, which lawmakers ended in 2009 as they struggled to balance the state budget during the recession.
Rep. Frank Saparetto, R-Derry, proposed $37.5 million of the annual revenue from the casino go to highways and bridges to avoid increasing the gas tax, and he wants to use additional money to reduce business tax rates, but that amendment failed on a 14-8 vote.
“(This amendment) makes a whole lot of promises of funding with a whole lot of assumptions,” he said. “I don’t like to make promises I can’t keep.”
But others said gambling revenues do not solve the state’s fiscal problems.
But committee vice chair Rep. Patricia Lovejoy, D-Stratham, said lawmakers should not be equating a vote against gambling as an endorsement of a broad-based tax.
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