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Gionet sponsors gambling bill in House

Burton endorses Senate bill supported by Woodburn

February 06, 2013
LINCOLN—A second gambling bill has been added to the legislative mix this year, with state Rep. Edmond Gionet adding one in the House in addition to the one in the Senate supported by state Sen. Jeff Woodburn of Dalton.

Gionet's bill, HB 665, would specify that one of two facilities be built somewhere in the North Country. The other would be along the Massachusetts border. Gionet has long been a supporter of bringing gambling to New Hampshire and especially the North Country.

The Senate bill—it does not yet have a number—that Woodburn is supporting would establish one facility in an unspecified region of the state. A bidding process would establish the exact site.

Executive Councilor Ray Burton, of Bath, like Woodburn, is endorsing the Senate bill.

"I'm very much in support of this gaming bill. It has my strong support and I urge early passage of it in the Senate," Burton said Friday in an interview in Littleton. "At the end of the day it brings something for the North Country.

The provision that has both men supporting the bill is economic development aid that would come to the North Country. It would be a percentage of revenues generated by whatever casino was opened. Woodburn estimated it would bring between $5 million and $10 million annually to the North Country in development aid.

How these funds would be disbursed has not yet been discussed.

Gionet said Monday that he was sorry that Burton and Woodburn had signed onto the Senate bill, which is being sponsored by Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester. He wanted them on board supporting his bill. The Senate bill provides no facility or jobs for the North Country, he said. He believes legislators from the southern part of the state oppose a North Country casino because it would threaten any built in the southern tier because of the large number of tourists who come to the North Country. Gionet said their fear is unfounded as experts who study casinos agree two facilities would be better because they are more a magnet for the state, drawing yet more people here and helping both locations.

Woodburn said he believes the Senate bill has the best chance of passage through both legislative houses because of its sponsors.

"It has momentum and has the backing of the governor, who said she would only support one facility to start with," Woodburn said. Woodburn said establishing one facility has more supporters because it would give the state a chance to perfect a system for establishing and monitoring any casino. Under the Senate bill no specific area is specified but the Rockingham area seems to be most likely spot, Woodburn and other sponsors noted.

Woodburn said he would vote for Gionet's bill if it got through the House, and he hoped Gionet would do the same for the Senate bill.

Martin Lord Osman
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