| NEW YORK
NEW YORK May 22 New Hampshire's House of
Representatives rejected a bill on Wednesday that would have
authorized the construction of the state's first casino, bucking
a regional trend toward easing restrictions on gaming in New
Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan had campaigned hard for
the bill because gaming would help raise needed revenue without
increasing existing taxes and fees. The casino bill had earlier
passed the Republican-controlled Senate, and she had included
$80 million in her proposed budget from casino-licensing fees.
But the Democratic-led House of Representatives voted
199-164 to defeat the proposal, with members of both parties
voting against it.
Those in favor had argued that without a casino New
Hampshire was likely to lose revenue to neighboring
Massachusetts, which in 2011 authorized the construction of
"I remain committed to working with the legislature to
finalize a balanced budget that restores the priorities that the
people of New Hampshire support: job creation, higher education,
economic development, strengthening our mental health system and
protecting the health and well-being of our communities," said
Hassan, in a statement following the vote.
"We must work together to keep our state moving forward and
to ensure a brighter, more innovative economic future for all
States in New England have increasingly turned to casinos in
recent years to help close budget gaps and generate jobs. Maine
opened its first slot machine parlor in 2005 and now has two
casinos, as well as a Native American-owned bingo parlor.
Rhode Island has two slot machine parlors. In an effort to
compete with Massachusetts, Rhode Island last year approved
table gaming at one of its facilities. Connecticut has large
tribal-owned casinos in two locations.
In 1964, New Hampshire became the first state to run a
state-sanctioned lottery. Since then, repeated efforts to expand
gambling there have foundered in the state's 400-member House.
Opponents of expanded gambling in New Hampshire credited the
size of the House with making it difficult for pro-casino
lobbyists to win sufficient support.
"We enjoy the benefits of this 400-member House - you can't
buy it," said Jim Rubens, chairman of the Granite State
Coalition Against Expanded Gambling, an alliance of religious,
business, civic and law-enforcement groups opposed to the bill.
"We're pleased obviously that despite the most intensive
lobbying and arm-twisting effort to pass a gambling bill in the
state, it failed," Rubens said. "It's really time for the
governor to find a different budget solution."