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House Bill 593 Could See New Hampshire Get Land Casinos

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If a proposal attached to House Bill 593 is approved by Washington D.C.
lawmakers, the U.S. state of New Hampshire could soon be home to two new land
casinos that between them boasts up to 10,000 slot machines between them and a
host of other popular casino games.

Recently, the House Ways and Means
subcommittee heard arguments on the New Hampshire casino proposal, which if
passed could result in the awarding of two land casino licenses in New
Hampshire, each license worth $50 million. If the New Hampshire casinos see
light of day, the state would benefit from 35 percent taxes levied on slot
machine revenues and 8 percent taxes on table game revenues, which could add up
to as much as $130 million per annum.

Part of the reason New Hampshire is so eager to climb aboard the ‘gambling
bandwagon’, is that neighbouring Massachusetts is on the brink of opening up its
own gambling industry through the passing of it own casino bill in Washington,
which could also see it bolster its coffers with hundreds of millions of dollars
in taxable casino revenues.

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts House approved a bill to bring expanded
gambling to the Commonwealth in the form of three large casino resorts.

New Hampshire Gambling Bill Could Yield Casinos

But as is always the case where gambling is concerned in the U.S., the New
Hampshire gambling proposal has as many opponents as proponents. Supporters of
the proposal want to see gambling revenues kept in the state via local casinos,
while critics see the proposal as ‘rushed,’ and without the necessary safeguards
to prevent against problem gambling, corruption and crime.

On Tuesday this
week in a hearing, House members – Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Steve Stepanek,
R-Amherst and House Finance Committee Chairman Rep. Kenneth Weyler, R-Kingston –
lent their support to the proposal. Stepanek, who amended the latest version of
the proposal, and Weyler oversee all House spending and taxing policy.

After the hearing Stepanek said that he intends to take a ‘hands-off approach
to the issue,’ and that his amendment to the proposal was aimed at giving it the
best chance of being passed by the House. A recommendation on the bill has to be
made by his committee before January next year.

But whether the bill will be passed remains to be seen, considering a slew of
gambling bills have rejected by the House in the past.

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