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New England tinkers with new forms of gambling

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New England has long been a leader in the use of legalized gambling to replenish state coffers. Lotteries and other state-run gaming operations are common throughout the region.

But lottery revenue in some states has fallen in recent years. Faced with this slip in income, the promoters of legalized gambling in New England aren't taking chances. They're busily casting about for new ways to lure the public's dollar.

Connecticut officials, for example, are considering replacement of their decade-old weekly lottery with a scheme that allows participants to, in effect, bet against each other via computer.

Lotto, as it is called, would be similar to one of the most popular legalized gambling operations in neighboring New York State.

Meanwhile, a push is on to bring parimutuel off-track betting on horse and dog races to Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

One chamber of the New Hampshire Legislature has endorsed a measure to expand state-sponsored gambling in that direction. The proposed operation, patterned after those in several other states, including Connecticut, would yield New Hampshire some $3 million a year, say backers.

New Hampshire has also been weighing the pros and cons of casino gambling. Most recently, a proposal to rebuild the burned-out Rockingham race track fell through when the developer - Las Vegas-based MGM Grand Hotels Inc. - said it couldn't make a go of the project without a casino.

New Hampshire Gov. Hugh J. Gallen has said he is unalterably opposed to casinos because, in his view, they would cheapen the quality of life in his heavily tourism-dependent state.

Despite similar stiff political opposition elsewhere in New England, MGM Grand and other casino promoters seem determined to keep pushing, especially in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

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