Gambling

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Gov. Maggie Hassan says she doesn't think a market exists for two casinos in New Hampshire, as proposed in a bill that has passed the Senate and is now before the House.

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Like the return of spring crocuses, New Hampshire’s perennial gambling debate is back. Earlier this year, the Senate passed a two-casino bill and sent it to the House, which has been a graveyard for these measures.  We’ll find out if this time will be any different and look at how arguments around economic benefits and social costs have played out in other states.

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Senate President Chuck Morse has repeatedly said he won’t include money derived from unapproved forms of gambling in the senate budget proposal. He reiterated that point as he pitched the casinos -- which could include a total of 5000 slot machines and 240 table games -- to the house ways and means committee.

"You know we are going to fund the needs of the people of the state of N.H. in the state budget, but I can assure you the wants are much greater."

Brian Wallstin for NHPR

Lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on a House bill to bring keno to New Hampshire bars and restaurants. Sponsors say the electronic game could raise some $8.5 million annually for education, while Gov. Maggie Hassan’s two-year budget projects $26 million in keno revenue.

NHPR’s digital journalist Brian Wallstin reported on keno legislation a year ago that died in the Senate, and he joins us now to give us an update on this year’s proposal.

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Gov. Maggie Hassan says she still wants to bring a casino to NH but is a "realist."

The Governor told lawmakers her decision to fund her $11.5 billion budget with $27m from yet-to-be-legal Keno doesn’t mean she’s changed her mind about supporting a full-blown Casino.

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Early figures from the Maine Gambling Control Board show slot machine revenue at the state's two casinos remained nearly flat last year when compared to the previous year.

Slot players gambled $459.6 million last year at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, an almost 2 percent decline from the $468.9 million bet in 2013.

Exact year-end figures for Oxford Casino won't be available for a few months, but casino managers have told the state that it will pocket $31.5 million after taxes, just $7,600 more than in 2013 when players gambled $677 million on slots there.

Via MGM's project website

Gambling money will begin flowing into local government coffers in earnest now that the state's casino law survived an Election Day repeal effort.

In the coming weeks, MGM says it will make more than $1 million in community payments to Springfield, where it is building an $800 million resort. The company will also pay over $1.5 million to eight surrounding municipalities by Dec. 6.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has awarded the Boston-area casino license to Wynn Resorts, which plans to build a casino resort in Everett.

Courtesy Photo

A forthcoming book explores the tumultuous history of this first-in-the-nation state-run lottery. Approval for the lottery followed a bitter fight, with opponents warning it could lead to Communism and racketeering.  Now, fifty years later, lotteries are in forty-three states. Still, controversy remains over whether this is the best way to raise revenue.

Little-known facts about the lottery:

Bay State Gambling Debate: What It Means For N.H.

Aug 5, 2014
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We're checking in with the ongoing debate over casino projects in Massachusetts and the referendum coming this November on whether to repeal the three-year-old law. We'll also look into how the gambling debate in Massachusetts might impact New Hampshire.

GUESTS:

CALLOUTS:

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All Things Considered is looking at some of the key bills of the 2014 legislative session – and how they ended up passing or failing to pass.

This year's casino debate may have seen some new lines of argument, but the outcome was the same as in years past: casino proposals won support in the State Senate, but came up short in the State House.

Reporter Norma Love of the Associated Press explains the dynamic behind this year's casino debate to NHPR's Brady Carlson.

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The House and Senate have voted to tighten rules for table games operated in the name of New Hampshire charities.

Lawmakers voted Wednesday to send the governor a bill establishing new financial record-keeping and reporting requirements for charities and deeper background investigations by the attorney general.

The bill clarifies the definition of so-called redemption slot machines and the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission's enforcement authority over them.

Gambling Takes Center Stage In Congressional Race

Jun 2, 2014
Todd Bookman / NHPR

Casinos are shaping up to be a key issue in the 2nd Congressional District’s Republican primary.

At competing events Monday, several state representatives from Salem who back expanded gaming publicly endorsed GOP candidate Gary Lambert.

Meanwhile in Concord, anti-casino activists defended fellow Salem Representative Marilinda Garcia’s vote against a plan to legalize two casinos, despite overwhelming public support in her district.

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House and Senate negotiators have reached a tentative deal on a bill to tighten rules for table games operated in the name of New Hampshire charities.

The House and Senate still must vote on Friday's deal. The bill establishes new financial record-keeping and reporting requirements for charities and deeper background investigations by the attorney general.

The bill clarifies the definition of so-called redemption slot machines and the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission's enforcement authority over them.

Slot Machines
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New Hampshire's House is voting Wednesday whether to legalize two casinos about a month after representatives said `no' to one casino.  The Ways and Means Committee voted 11-9 to recommend that the House reject the bill, which includes $25 million in aid to communities as a sweetener. The House has never approved video slots legislation.  The Senate bill proposes legalizing two casinos sharing a total of 5,000 video slot machines and 240 table games. The House killed a bill a month ago that would have legalized one casino licensed to have 5,000 video slot machines.

Expanded Gambling: Will New Bill Change Minds?

Apr 21, 2014
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After many failed attempts to pass a casino bill, supporters think they may finally have a winning hand -- proposing two casinos and a new revenue-sharing plan. Opponents are raising long-held concerns about gambling’s social costs, including addiction and crime. We’ll look at this new bill and its odds for passing.  

GUESTS: 

 A state senator who has tried for years to persuade New Hampshire lawmakers to legalize a casino is going to try again despite a House vote to reject one last week.

Sen. Lou D'Allesandro plans to ask the Senate to amend his bill Thursday to add the regulatory scheme in the defeated House bill and send it to the House in hopes his proposal will have a different outcome.

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The 173-144 voted showed house lawmakers remain skeptical of casino gambling.

This bill envisioned up to 5000 slot machines and 150 table games at one location, was touted as the product of study and hard-won experience.

Jaffrey Democrat Richard Ames was its lead sponsor.

"We took what we learned and make a New Hampshire plan."

But critics said the plan, which beefed up the regulations included in the proposal the House rejected last year, ceded too much power to a gambling authority.

limconcon / Flickr Creative Commons

After yet another casino bill failed last year, new versions have emerged – with new regulations attached in hopes of appeasing opponents.  Supporters say a casino would bring in much-needed revenue to the state. But opposition remains among those worried about social costs, and those who question whether it would be profitable, given expanded gambling elsewhere in New England.

GUESTS:

Sara Plourde / NHPR

New Hampshire's House has voted to allow electronic keno games to be played in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.  


NHPR Staff

  The Ways and Means Committee passed this casino bill as soon as the public testimony ended, but the full Senate is expected to slow things down by tabling the bill until the House considers a proposal allowing one casino with a beefed up regulatory scheme.

Prior to voting in favor of the senate plan, Derry Republican Jim Rausch observed what’s obvious to anyone who’s watched N.H.’s casino debate: without movement in the House gambling goes nowhere.    

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Update: The Senate Ways & Means Committee approved SB 366, 4-1, this morning. Sen. Bob Odell, R-Lempster, was the lone vote in opposition to the bill, which would license two casinos. Senate President Chuck Morse said the legislation will now move to the full Senate. Morse said the Senate will likely table it and wait for the House to act on its own gambling bill. That legislation, drafted by members of the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authorityenvisions a single casino, which Gov. Maggie Hassan supports.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

On a recent afternoon at the Common Grounds Cafe, 200 yards from the New Hampshire border in Methuen, Mass, a handful of men sit along a short counter or at several tables in the back of the cafe.

Eyes moving back and forth from their pink and white betting slips to two wall-mounted video monitors, they wait for the next drawing of a popular electronic lottery game called Keno.

Legislation that would bring Keno to an estimated 250 bars and restaurants would, for the first time, establish a program to treat gambling addiction in New Hampshire.

An amendment to HB 485 would set aside 1 percent of the sales from Keno - about $435,000 - to the state Department of Health and Human Services for education, treatment and prevention services. William Butynski, D-Hindale, who proposed the amendment, says it’s time for lawmakers to recognize that even state-sponsored gambling such as the lottery can cause problems for a small percentage of people who play.

It’s been two years since Massachusetts’ gaming law took effect, but so far, not a single casino has been licensed or built.  The law allows for three regional resort casino licenses and one slots parlor.  Casino proposals in the Southeastern part of the state have stalled.

The Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling and Casino Free NH will be led by Concord businessman Steve Duprey,  former Chairman of the State Republican Party, and Harold Janeway,  former Democratic State Senator from Webster.

Duprey and Janeway were both active in the effort to kill the casino legislation backed by Governor Maggie Hassan earlier this year.  Janeway says their groups' new lobbying effort will focus on the N.H. House, which has never backed a casino bill.  He added that there is no time to waste.

A special panel tasked with developing casino regulations for New Hampshire may meet with its newly hired consultant at its meeting Thursday.

The New Hampshire Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority recently hired WhiteSand Gaming of Nevada and New Jersey to help it write regulations for lawmakers to consider next year. The panel has a Dec. 15 deadline to submit draft legislation.

The agreement with WhiteSand says its charges cannot exceed $135,000.

UMass Dartmouth Professor Clyde Barrow cited the states of Delaware, West Virginia, and Rhode Island as possible models for New Hampshire. All place gambling regulation under their states' lottery commissions - and none, said Barrow, needed to hire a huge number of people to do the job.

"As you can see in the case of Delaware and Rhode Island, which respectively have two and three casinos, have 59 and 51 employees respectively, and that is to supervise traditional lottery, virtual and live table games, VLTs and charitable gaming combined."

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Our sunniest content of the week, all in one smart and snazzy hour. This week, misogyny online, the return of legal internet poker, an app that proves you're on a public beach, surprising summer reads, and a photographer's documentation of vanishing highway rest stops.

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More than two years have passed since the Department of Justice seized and shut down three major American online-gambling websites, charged site executives with bank fraud, and froze millions of dollars in player funds. Since then, social gaming from Zynga and the like has been thriving on social media sites, attracting millions of players to their digital tables, using only fake money. At the same time, real money gambling is also back on the internet - on April 30th, Station Casinos in Nevada became the first site to offer real online poker since the 2011 shutdown.  The questions are: will the for-profit sites draw millions of social players and will they put real money on the line?  Michael Kaplan is a contributing editor for Cigar Aficionado and has been covering the return of online gambling.

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