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Casino Gambling Movement Takes A Step Back In New Hampshire

Casino gambling expansion is one of the hottest contested issues in statehouses all across the US this session. On Wednesday, New Hampshire legislators took their turn voting on a casino expansion plan, and lawmakers in the House soundly defeated the gaming bill.

The defeat was a blow to pro-gaming groups that lobbied heavily the issue over the past year. New Hampshire has fallen behind states such as Pennsylvania and Maryland when it comes to casino gambling, but the proposed plan on the table Wednesday was not one that lawmakers could endorse.

"The problem with this bill is that it gives away to the gambling and casino interests a valuable asset that really belongs to the taxpayers of New Hampshire," said Representative Neal Kurk.

The vote actually ended up being closer than some experts had predicted, with the House defeating the bill 195-154. House Democrats were the lawmakers that determined the fate of the legislation, with Democrats voting nearly two-to-one against the bill. Now, pro-gaming lawmakers will have to wait at least another year before the gambling issue is re-examined.

"We are disappointed with the House outcome that some continue to block what a significant majority of New Hampshire citizens support, which is thousands of well-paying jobs and hundreds of millions of non-taxpayer revenue brought by permitting casino gambling," said Rich Killion, a consultant for Millenium Gaming, one of the four companies that stood to gain a new gaming license had the bill passed.

The timing for the defeat of the casino bill could not have been worse for New Hampshire in relation to the gaming industry as a whole in the Northeast. Massachusetts lawmakers legalized casinos earlier this year, and that has left New Hampshire in a position of losing hundreds of millions of dollars that residents of the state will now be taking to neighboring states.

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