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Advocacy Group Plugs Casino Advisory Committee

New Hampshire Casino Now sent representatives to the Board of Selectmen on Jan. 14.

A Salem-based advocacy group designed to build support for a casino at Rockingham Park spoke to the Board of Selectmen on Jan. 14 about forming a Casino Advisory Committee as soon as possible.

Daniel Norris, chairman of NH Casino Now, said that the committee would be tasked with quantifying the gaming revenue amounts from a casino as well as how that revenue would be used in Salem.

"Based on the work that we've done we thought that the timing was right to talk to the board about (a committee) and see if that process could get started.

Although the board tabled a vote on the committee until Jan. 28, NH Casino Now suggested the following membership – two Board of Selectmen representatives, Town Manager Keith Hickey, Community Development Director William J. Scott, one Budget Committee representative, one School Board representative, two citizen representatives and either state Sen. Chuck Morse or a state representative that he may designate.

Norris said that his organization has been at work in Salem over the last several months to build support for casino development at Rockingham Park.

"We feel this is the most important economic development issue facing our community right now," he said.

Salem will get a better understanding of the support for a casino in March when voters will choose 'yes' or 'no' on a Salem casino via a non-binding gaming referendum.

Selectman Jim Keller said that it might help to wait on a committee until concrete information on a bill is available in Concord. Fellow Selectman Stephen Campbell said that every committee in town starts off slow, and that he supports starting now.

Norris agreed with Campbell on getting a head start.

"Some time to work on this issue in advance of our town's referendum – that would be helpful to voters to understand what the board may have in mind," he said.

Norris referred to that possible work before the referendum as "very preliminary."

According to Norris, a public forum is scheduled to take place at Rockingham Park sometime in February and will once again feature representatives from Millennium Gaming.

Jeff Hatch January 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM
I like the idea of having this the board but I have a major problem with it's make up. Why only 2 members from the general public? With this make up the votes are already in the tank.
salem activist January 15, 2013 at 12:17 PM
It's all about Power...Salem is inundated with Power Grabbers...oversized heads wanting to have control.
More than 50 years in NH January 15, 2013 at 12:25 PM
All these power grabbers are frauds. They never deliver. Just in it for their own egos.
Jeff Hatch January 15, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Does Mr Hickey and Mr Scott live in Salem? Why would we want 2 town employees that don't live in Salem have a vote on what how much and what to do with the cash.
Ugh January 15, 2013 at 01:13 PM
That makes no sense. Hickey is Salems Town Manager and Scott is community Development Director.
bruno January 15, 2013 at 01:28 PM
FOLLOW THE MONEY
Jeff Hatch January 15, 2013 at 01:33 PM
ya and both could be here today gone tomorrow and Salem is left solving problems as a result of their votes. They can and should provide this board with suggestions and guideance but I don't think they should have a vote.
Salem Citizen January 15, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Why do we need a board to decide what is good for the citizens of Salem.
Ugh January 15, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Gone tomorrow, we should be so lucky.
Riley Reid January 15, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Hickey lives about an hour west of Manchester, so whatever is done for a casino in Salem, "he can't see if from his house". I have little faith in this board. Lots of us watched Dan Norris run the B&G Club into the ground and expect him to screw the casino project up as well.
Survivor. January 15, 2013 at 04:12 PM
If we get a Casino, the Unions should forget about raises for themselves. Any benefits of a Casino should ALL go to the long suffering taxpayers of Salem.
Jeff Hatch January 15, 2013 at 07:07 PM
These guys are all counting their chickens before the eggs hatch. I wouldn't be shocked to findout that they already have plans for that cash. As for Riley's comment about Dan Norris. I'm not familiar with the inner workings of the B & G club. I myself have a lot of respect for Mr Norris. When I was on the ZBA with him he always conducted buissness in professional manner and I learned alot from him
Jim Rubens January 16, 2013 at 01:30 AM
The committee should also look at increased local taxpayer supported costs associated with casinos, including: water & sewer construction & maint, low income housing (because the median US casino wage including tips is $11.25 per hour), fire and police protection, road maintenance, schools. A citizens casino study committee in Palmer, MA (whose citizens want a casino there) did this job and found tens of millions of dollars of increased facility and maintenance costs. Looking at revenues only is to miss the other side of the balance sheet.

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