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In a complex move, the New Hampshire House voted down legislation that would bring more casinos to the state in the next couple of years.
Even though the same bill passed the Senate in March, the House killed the measure by a 289-63 vote.
The House then took a step to make sure the bill does not see the light of day again this year by voting to “indefinitely postpone” the idea so that it cannot be debated again in 2019.
The additional casinos bill had become a “poison pill” in recent weeks for sports betting in New Hampshire because senators had threatened to attached the two proposals together.
The creator of the casinos bill, Senator Lou D’Allesandro has indicated that he plans to table his proposal so that the sports betting bill can pass in the state.
“They won’t accept the subject matter,” D’Allesandro told Legal Sports Report.
“Whether it be the budget or the sports betting bill, it will kill whatever you attach it to. I’m choosing not to kill the sports betting bill.”
With the casino legislation being so unpopular among lawmakers, if the two measures had been combined, both branches would have defeated the bill, pushing sports betting adoption further into the future for the state.
“The House is not amenable to casinos right now, and anything that the Senate puts in to that effect will act as a poison pill to the whole bill,” said Rep. Timothy Lang.
With Sen. D’Allesandro backing away from mounting a challenge for his casino amendment, the House bill now moves to Senate for approval.
Sen. Bob Giuda has indicated that he will add a handful of small amendments to the bill. Once he does that, if his changes pass the Senate, then the House will have to sign off again.
Additional amendments could include a lifting a cap on retail betting locations and making in-game betting similar between online and retail betting.
In the current bill, there is a cap of ten retail locations but lawmakers claimed that the cap did little to target and eliminate illegal gambling.
Current House bill author, Rep. Lang, has pushed back against claims his bill was written as a gift to just a handful of betting operators.
“I never intended to create a monopoly,” Lang said.
“I think it should be left to the lottery to decide how many agents are allowed based on the size of the market, and as the market grows there might be more agents added.”
Once the bill finally clears the House and Senate, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu is expected to sign the measure.
Even on the heels of his defeated proposal, casino amendment sponsor Sen. D’Allesandro believes that the sports betting bill is on the fast track to approval.
“I’m willing to say the Housso e-sports betting bill is going to pass in the Senate,” D’Allesandro said.
“It may not look like the sports betting bill we saw come over, but I think it’s going to pass.”
D’Allesandro will have to wait two years before reintroducing his casino amendment up for debate, as the New Hampshire legislature only meets in odd number years.
“It’s a tough business,” D’Allesandro said. “It’s like climbing Mt. Everest.”
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