CONCORD, New Hampshire — Casino watchers will be closely following action Tuesday in New Hampshire's House Ways and Means Committee on a bill that is the product of a special gambling commission.
The committee is deciding whether to recommend that the House pass the bill and three other gambling proposals. The House has never passed casino legislation. It killed a Senate-passed bill last spring despite heavy lobbying by Gov. Maggie Hassan.
Meanwhile, the Senate voted to hold onto its latest casino bill until the House acts on its bills.
The two chambers disagree on how to raise money for highway improvements that include finishing the Interstate 93 expansion, higher education and economic development. The House passed a gas tax last year to pay for road fixes, but the Senate killed it.
The New Hampshire Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority, which was created after the House killed the Senate's casino bill, recommended legislation that would license one casino with up to 5,000 video slots and 150 table games.
The proposed regulations are much more extensive than were in the bill killed by the House, but limits on the number of video slots allowed and other details about a new casino are nearly identical.
Hassan hoped the special panel would address concerns opponents had expressed about inadequate regulations. The panel hired WhiteSands Gaming to help draft the bill, and state Rep. Richard Ames, the panel's chairman, sponsored it.
Last month in her state-of-the-state address, Hassan renewed her call for New Hampshire to compete with Massachusetts by legalizing a casino. Hassan argues New Hampshire should capture gambling profits that otherwise will be spent in Massachusetts casinos.
The House vote in May was 199-164, which means casino backers may only need to win over as few as 18 House members for a bill to pass.