Published Date Written by Michael KitchCONCORD — Executive Councilor Ray Burton of Bath and Senator Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton), who together represent the North Country, have endorsed legislation that would authorize just one casino gambling venue in the state, some proceeds from which would be dedicated to economic development in the North Country as well as transportation and higher education.
Burton said yesterday that he has consistently supported the expansion of gambling to supplement state revenues. "This is not new ground for me," he said.
In the past Burton has favored licensing a gambling franchise at one of the grand hotels in the North Country. However, Burton said that he accepts one venue, most likely at Rockingham Park in Salem, with the assurance of an annual investment of between $5-million and $10-million in the economy of the North Country.
Woodburn called the legislation, sponsored by Senators Chuck Morse (R-Salem) and Lou D'Alessandro (D-Manchester), "the North Country economic development bill." He said that the state faces a challenging budget with many competing demands for scarce funds and welcomed the assurance of annual investment in the most hard-pressed region of the state.
Burton, whose district includes four cities and 108 towns in seven of the 10 counties, said he will be urging the 80 lawmakers representing these municipalities to support the bill. "There has to be some new revenue in the budget," he said, "and this bill stands a good chance of becoming a reality."