Andy Sanborn’s New Hampshire Gaming License Case Delayed by Two Months

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The New Hampshire Lottery Commission has granted several significant concessions to Andy Sanborn, the owner of various charitable New Hampshire casino venues, amidst ongoing attempts to revoke his gaming license.

The allegations against Sanborn (pictured in 2018) revolve around the purported misuse of a $844,000 loan issued in 2020 as part of COVID-19 pandemic relief.

This week, a commission hearing granted Sanborn, a former New Hampshire state senator and Republican congressional candidate, an additional eight weeks to prepare his defense.

Furthermore, the commission will now bear the onus of proving its allegations against Sanborn, rather than Sanborn having to disprove them. Additionally, the commission has agreed to let an individual from a different state agency oversee Sanborn’s revocation hearing. Sanborn has reportedly had several major health problems in past years, and recently missed a commission hearing because of illness.

Underlying Concerns Remain

Despite these concessions, the Lottery Commission has deep concerns about Sanborn’s suitability to retain his license for charitable gaming. The commission’s apprehensions stem from Sanborn’s alleged misuse of federal pandemic assistance funds, alleged inappropriate comments, and previous legal actions against him.

The commission’s chief compliance officer, John Conforti, emphasized that settlement discussions are confidential. If no settlement is reached, a hearing in December will determine the fate of Sanborn’s license.

Sanborn’s Concord Casino opened its doors in 2018. However, it wasn’t until a year later that the Lottery Commission and the Attorney General’s Office began conducting suitability reviews, which are carried out every five years for all license holders.

This makes the current review a first for Sanborn and his casino. Conforti’s report from March 13th highlighted that neither the commission nor the Attorney General’s office conducted thorough suitability reviews until 2019. This was primarily because of limited resources and the small scale of gaming entities at the time.

Disregard for Legal Requirements

That has changed. Conforti’s extensive report, spanning nearly 260 pages, delves into the reasons he believes Sanborn is “not suitable” to maintain his gaming license.

While a significant portion of the report focuses on the alleged misuse of the $844,000 pandemic loan, it also sheds light on Sanborn’s history of tax liens, inappropriate comments made during his tenure as a state senator, and a 2005 court action against him over a closed retail business.

“This included evidence that Mr. Sanborn had made crass comments about oral sex to an intern in 2013 and that Mr. Sanborn made ‘near-daily’ unwelcome comments about a female staffer’s appearance,” Conforti’s report said.

Sanborn’s actions demonstrate “an ongoing pattern of disregard for legal requirements,” the report says.

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Sanborn’s Defence

Sanborn’s legal team has countered the allegations, stating that the state’s investigation was “sloppy, at best.” Zachary Hafer, one of Sanborn’s attorneys, pointed out discrepancies in the state’s claims, particularly regarding Sanborn’s financial status, when he purchased a Porsche in early 2022. Hafer emphasized that Sanborn had consulted third parties when applying for the loan, indicating that he wasn’t operating in bad faith.

The Lottery Commission initially sought a swift resolution to the case. However, after Sanborn’s lawyers obtained a temporary restraining order, the process has been extended.

The commission’s chairwoman, Debra Douglas, expressed concerns about the public perception of the case, stating that it’s damaging the commission’s brand. Unless a settlement is reached, the next significant event will be the license revocation hearing, expected to take place in early or mid-December.

In other New Hampshire gambling news this week, the state now has new additions to its list of casinos and New Hampshire retail sportsbooks. The former Boston Billiard Club has now been renamed Gate City Casino after its grand reopening. The Historical Horse Racing slot-like casino venue will also offer a full-service, DraftKings-powered sportsbook venue.

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