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New Hampshire Casino Owner Gets More Time for License Case

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Posted on: October 25, 2023, 03:37h. 

Last updated on: October 25, 2023, 03:37h.

Embattled charitable casino owner Andy Sanborn this week was given an extra two months to prepare for a hearing. At issue is whether he keeps his New Hampshire gaming license.

Andy Sanborn
Andy Sanborn, pictured above. The New Hampshire casino owner is fighting to keep his casino license. (Image: New Hampshire Bulletin)

The New Hampshire Lottery Commission agreed to give Sanborn’s legal team eight more weeks before appearing at a December administrative hearing on whether to end his license.

In addition, the Lottery Commission during the hearing will have a higher burden of proof. Now, its lawyers will have to prove the case rather than Sanborn’s side disproving the case, according to New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR).

Also, the hearing officer on the case will be a state official outside of the Lottery Commission.

The changes were presented on Monday to Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius.

Sanborn wasn’t in court on Monday. He had a doctor’s appointment, NHPR reported. He reportedly needs more preparation time for the future hearing because of medical issues and other factors.

Sanborn, a former state senator, owns New Hampshire’s Concord Casino, located in the Concord Draft Sports and Grill.

His casino license is to expire on Dec. 31, according to NHPR.

Issues over Sanborn’s license come after he allegedly improperly applied for and used $844K in COVID-19 relief funds. He allegedly used some of the money to buy three cars, two for himself and one for his wife, State Rep. Laurie Sanborn. He also failed to disclose in the loan application that he owned a casino, officials said. The relief funds couldn’t be used for a gaming property.

Sanborn’s Lawyers Respond

On Monday, Andy Sanborn’s legal team challenged some of the state’s allegations about Sanborn’s finances. Attorney Zachary Hafer said his client had a balance of $150,000 or more in a bank account when he purchased one of the cars, a Porsche, in January 2022.

“If someone wants to buy a car with their own money that they had at the time the loan came in, that’s very different than if they took and spent the (loan) money,” Hafer said. “And that’s going to come out when we have this hearing.”

Also, Hafer told Judge Ignatius on Monday the state’s investigation was “sloppy, at best,” NHPR reported. “We are very much looking forward to meeting these allegations head-on in a fair proceeding.”

Liens, Crude Comment

Beyond Sanborn’s loan controversy, there have been 37 tax liens (now resolved), audits, and even alleged offensive comments he made to an intern/employee, NHPR reported.

Mr. Sanborn had made crass comments about oral sex to an intern in 2013 … [and] Mr. Sanborn made ‘near-daily’ unwelcome comments about a female staffer’s appearance,” John Conforti, chief compliance officer for the Lottery Commission, said in an extensive report, quoted by NHPR.

In addition, Sanborn was sued after he closed Banagans, a New Hampshire chain of bike and ski shops. Vendors went to court to try to recover some of the money he owed them, NHPR reported. Three vendors tried to get him to pay over $300K in total.

Suitability Questioned

Sanborn’s original license predates the time state officials did reviews to see if the licensee was suitable to operate a casino.

“As pre-2019 licensees were not subject to full reviews, the Department of Justice and Lottery Commission have committed to conducting a full suitability review at the five-year interval to determine whether these licensees should remain involved with gaming in New Hampshire,” Conforti explained in a commission document.

There were reportedly some attempts behind closed doors to settle the dispute between Sanborn and the Lottery Commission. They also involve the office of state Attorney General John Formella.

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