You can’t beat the house, so former state Sen. Andy Sanborn is going to court for better odds. Sanborn, the controversial Bedford Republican and owner of the Concord Casino, filed a lawsuit late last week to stop the New Hampshire Lottery Commission’s hearing into allegations he is unfit to hold a casino license.
Sanborn is accused of misusing $844,000 in COVID relief money. However, he claims he did nothing wrong. Court documents reveal that a state audit found he allegedly overpaid himself hundreds of thousands in rent, bought sports cars for himself and his wife, state Rep. Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford), and used the federal funding to plan a new casino. State officials call it an “airtight case”.
The allegations against Sanborn are serious. The state audit detected the alleged COVID relief fraud in May 2022. But concerns about Sanborn go back even further. The previous year’s audit found problems with the casino’s record-keeping and internal financial controls. Both Laurie and Andy Sanborn had been disciplined and fined by the commission for breaking state casino rules.
Sanborn’s casino was losing money, yet he paid himself rent for more than 27 years in just eight months! The Main Street property in Concord is owned by another Sanborn LLC, The Best Revenge LLC. The lease agreement between Best Revenge and Win, Win, Win (the LLC through which the casino is owned) had the casino paying $6,000 a year in rent—paid out at $500 a month. However, according to the audit, Sanborn wired $163,500 from Win, Win, Win to Best Revenge between January and August 2022 to cover the rent—more than $20,000 a month for the $500-a-month rent.
Sanborn asked Judge Martin Honigberg in Merrimack Superior Court to set the Lottery Commission hearing for December once his lawyers have had time to go through the evidence. He claims that defendants have violated his due process rights by refusing to allow him time to prepare for a hearing and refusing an impartial adjudicator to preside over the proceedings. Additionally, Sanborn wants Lottery Commission Chair Deborah Douglas removed from the case, alleging she has prejudged his situation. He seeks an independent presiding officer and reimbursement for attorney fees.
Judge Honigberg granted Sanborn an emergency temporary restraining order delaying the planned Oct. 13 Lottery Commission hearing but did not make any rulings on the complaint’s merits. The state and Sanborn are now due in Concord court on Oct. 20 to argue when the commission hearing should occur.