Legal, Regulatory Experts Testify: $80 Million Casino License Money Unlikely For Next Budget

Legal, Regulatory Experts Testify:
$80 Million Casino License Money Unlikely For Next Budget
Concord – Legal and regulatory experts testified today before a House special committee that it is unlikely that an $80 million casino license fee would materialize during the coming two-year budget. Experts in New Hampshire’s rule-making process, the licensing and background checks required in the SB152 casino bill, local planning and zoning requirements, and potential civil litigation outlined the timelines and uncertainties involved in gaining final state and local approvals required to build and operate a casino in New Hampshire. These experts noted that some of these steps could result in delays not anticipated by or resolved by the bill.
Facilitated by Peter Cowan of Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green, the panel provided the committee a realistic timeline to license revenues and a one-page summary of the timeline issues in the bill.  According to the summary, while the additional time realistically needed for the rule approval process and the Attorney General’s background checks in themselves would not preclude the license award and fee payment from occurring in FY 2015, when combined with processes involved in local planning and zoning approvals and the likelihood of litigation, the only possible conclusion is that the license fee is unlikely to be available by June 30, 2015.
Rep. Carol McGuire, an expert on the rule-making and approval process, emphasized that the writing of the rules is a long and non-trivial process in itself, which is then followed by a rule approval process, which includes at least one public hearing. The whole process can take as little as 55 days for simple rules. The Lottery Commission averaged 159 days for the rule approval process in 2009, roughly five months. SB152 allows two months for approval of the rules applicants would likely need to know in advance before submitting a proposal.
Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice discussed the time necessary for the thorough background checks expected of her office.  “Massachusetts anticipates a six-month turnaround time for these, but also recognizes that more time could be needed,” she said. The time required depends on several factors, including number of applicants, number of individuals associated with each applicant, and the extent to which they have been recently vetted elsewhere. The Attorney General’s office would hire part of this work out, Rice said, but even then could not meet the 120-days provided in SB152..
Cordell Johnston, General Counsel of the NH Municipal Association, addressed several potential snag points in the bill’s timeline.  The most difficult to resolve, he said, is local site plan approval, which is required in most southern NH towns. The site plan review and approval process takes at least one year, possibly more than two years. “It’s a chicken and egg question,” Johnston explained. “Could a town accept a proposal from an applicant not allowed by law to operate a casino in the state?  Would an applicant invest the considerable resources required to prepare a site plan without a state casino license in hand?”
William Chapman, a civil litigator with Orr and Reno, reviewed the litigation risks posed by SB152. The wording of the local referendum requires naming the proposed gaming location, which anticipates a license award decision by the Lottery Commission. If the Lottery Commission were to call for applications before all the rules governing the application process were approved, an applicant may have grounds for court action. Having invested at least $600,000 to apply, a losing applicant would likely appeal.
SB152 passed the Senate, and is now under review in the House by the Joint Committee on SB 152, which has divided its work into three subcommittees: Revenues, which heard the timeline panel today; Regulations; and Community Impact. The subcommittees are expected to complete their work by May 8.
Both proponents and opponents of a casino in New Hampshire generally acknowledge that the bill’s deadlines are set with an eye toward enabling the receipt of the license fee for the FY 2014-2015 state budget. Governor Hassan relies on the $80 million license fee in her budget proposal, whereas the budget passed by the House does not.

Teens Robbed of I-pod/Cell Phone


MANCHESTER, NH- On Monday, February 11, 2013, at about 6:30 PM, Manchester Police responded to a Clay Street address for a report of a robbery.  On arrival, they met with two 16 year old Manchester teens who reported they had been the victims of a robbery a short time earlier on Somerville Street, near Belmont Street.


According to the boys, they were walking in the area when they were approached by two men, one of whom demanded their belongings, indicating his companion had a gun, although no gun was observed.


One of the boys surrendered his I-pod Nano and Galaxy S3 cell phone and the men left.  They were last seen leaving the area as passengers in an older, dark colored 4-door sedan operated by a third individual who was possibly wearing a red sweatshirt.


The first suspect was described as a white male in his forties, about 6’3” tall with a slender build and dark “stubble” on his face.  He was last seen wearing a dark colored vest and a green “beanie” style hat.  The second man, alleged to have possessed a gun, was described as a clean-shaven white male in his forties with an average height and build.  He was last seen wearing a camouflage shirt and khaki pants.


Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Manchester Police Department at 668-8711.  Anonymous tips for cash rewards can be made through Manchester Crimeline at 624-4040 or online at