By GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD — The Lottery Commission scheduled an adjudicative hearing at the request of Concord Casino owner Andy Sanborn to contest the state’s findings that he is unfit to hold a charity casino operator’s license.
The hearing will be held before the Lottery Commission and Attorney General’s Office at 9 a.m. Oct. 3 at the Public Utilities Commission hearing room at 21 Fruit St., Concord.
The commission and the Attorney General declared Sanborn unfit to hold a casino owner’s license or to hire workers at his casino, claiming he committed COVID-19 relief fraud by accepting a $844,000 federal COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan and bought three race cars and parts with the money, paid rent going out years for the facility he owns on Main Street and other allegations.
Complaints filed against the Concord Casino also claim prizes were lowered during games, there were discrepancies in donations to charities, some earned less than the 35 percent of gross revenue state law requires, there was a sliding scale for rent charge to charities, surveillance cameras were inoperable at times or had wrong time stamps and table game dealers made errors.
Sanborn has denied the allegations and said he followed the due diligence needed for the loan and requested the hearing.
State regulators conducted a statutorily required review of Sanborn between Jan. 3 and Aug. 18, and on Aug. 30 Attorney General John Formella informed the commission he had determined Sanborn was not suitable to hold a charity gaming license.
Sanborn’s proposed larger charity gambling facility on Loudon Road in Concord was recently approved by the Concord Planning Board, but the decision is being litigated by neighbors of the proposed facility.
Sanborn’s wife, Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford, is Speaker Pro Tem of the New Hampshire House, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and was appointed chair of a study commission reviewing recent changes to charity gambing that included increasing the waging limit from $10 to $50 and the per game limit from $150 to $2,500.
She resigned as chair of the gaming study commission after regulators announced that Andy Sanborn was unfit to hold a license.
Last year, charities earned about $15 million from the gaming, on gross revenue of $54 million, with the state’s take a little more than $5 million.
At the hearing next month, regulators will determine if they should finalize their preliminary determination that Sanborn is unfit to hold a charity gaming license, and if they must revoke his licenses to operate.
Regulators will also determine if they have just cause to revoke the licenses and for how long.
Andy Sanborn is a former Republican state senator, and his wife has served in the House for a number of years.
The Sanborns also own The Draft bar which is located in the same building as the Concord Casino.
They have established a number of LLCs for their various businesses.
Formella said his office has opened a criminal investigation, including a review by the Public Integrity Unit of the actions of all of the individuals and entities involved, including Rep. Laurie Sanborn.
Formella also made a criminal referral to the United States Attorney’s Office – District of New Hampshire.
Garry Rayno may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.