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NH casino vote is on again in House
The latest measure under consideration would allow a pair of casinos instead the single location outlined in a bill rejected less than two months ago in the House of Representatives.
"I really believe this is showdown time. That's why I really believe this will pass," said Rep. Bob Elliott of Salem.
While proposals to expand legalized gambling in New Hampshire are nothing new, getting one through the House would be a first. The issue has been presented in various forms for years and never survived a session. It's come up often enough that some lawmakers feel it's like a blackjack hand gone bust, drawing too many cards and going well over the limit with repeated votes on the same topic.
Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, the prime sponsor of SB 366, has touted it as something new that would benefit all of New Hampshire by restoring revenue with a sum of $25.2 million to be distributed in communities throughout the state. The two-casino proposal also alleviates concerns of one casino monopolizing the state.
One recent development is a court ruling that found New Hampshire's Medicaid Enhancement Tax to be unconstitutional, which could leave the state facing a huge shortfall and in need of money that will need to come from somewhere. Implementing a state taxes on income and sales are unlikely, leaving few options.
"I think this is best chance that we've ever had of getting it through the House," Vaillancourt said. "Does that mean it's going to pass? Probably not."
Rep. Frank Sapareto, a member of the Ways and Means committee, also mentioned marijuana while discussing the gambling measure's prospects, saying a softer stance on personal use of the drug may be something the state needs to reconsider — especially if gambling is not expanded.
Sapareto said too many lawmakers in the past were opposed to expanded gambling in principle, dooming numerous bills.
Sapareto said lawmakers need to be realistic about generating revenue to fund the state government and address contentious issues such as gambling and marijuana.
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