Andy Sanborn loses gambling license, Concord Casino ordered to close by Jan. 1

Laurie and Andy Sanborn own The Draft Sports Bar and Grill and Concord Casino located on South Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire.

Laurie and Andy Sanborn own The Draft Sports Bar and Grill and Concord Casino located on South Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER

Laurie and Andy Sanborn own The Draft Sports Bar and Grill and Concord Casino located on South Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire.

Laurie and Andy Sanborn own The Draft Sports Bar and Grill and Concord Casino located on South Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 12-28-2023 10:48 PM

Modified: 12-29-2023 6:34 AM


Concord Casino’s doors are set to shut after the New Hampshire Lottery Commission suspended owner Andy Sanborn operating and gaming licenses for six months.

The ruling announced Thursday on accusations that Sanborn fraudulently obtained and used COVID-19 relief funds to fund his lavish lifestyle, makes the former state Senator ineligible to be involved with the state’s charitable gaming business model.

Independent hearing officer Michael King ordered Sanborn to sell the business within six months, or risk license revocation for two years, according to a decision announced Thursday.

The casino must be sold to a buyer approved by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and the casino must also cease operations on Jan. 1, 2024. Sanborn has 15 days to appeal.

“The misrepresentations on the EIDL application and the subsequent use of the proceeds for expenditures not allowed by that loan constitute conduct by the licensee that undermines the public confidence in charitable gaming,” King wrote in his report.

King said that an indefinite revocation was not deemed an appropriate remedy in this case since Sanborn had faced no prior revocations.

Mark Knights, Sanborn’s attorney said Thursday that King’s decision confirms that the Lottery Commission’s move to remove his licenses was wrong.

“That is ultimately what we were fighting about in this proceedings, whether or not the license should be revoked, and the hearing officer decides that it shouldn’t be. So that’s a win for Win Win Win and Mr. Sanborn,” said Knights.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Over Easy: Retirement 2.0
Lithium-ion batteries, electronic devices could soon be banned from NH landfills
Lebanon landfill gas to energy project under construction
Enfield rejects appeals of approvals for housing development
Thetford Academy forum focuses on cell phone bans in schools
Cyanobacteria warning placed on Mascoma, Pleasant lakes

Both the commission and Sanborn’s attorneys are reviewing the decision and evaluating their options.

While the application for federal COVID relief funds does not fall within the jurisdiction of the state lottery commission, the accuracy of the information presented to the Small Business Administration is pertinent to the case.

The relief funds were earmarked for struggling small businesses and casinos were explicitly excluded from receiving the financial assistance. But Sanborn managed to sidestep this restriction, by masking the registered trade name “Concord Casino” on his application. Instead, he utilized the name “Win Win Win LLC” and categorized the business activity as “miscellaneous.” His lawyers later argued the company was a charity gaming consulting business.

Highlighting the doubt that Sanborn’s business was eligible for the funds, Michael Evans, a consultant aiding Sanborn with the application, expressed reservations, according to public records obtained by the New Hampshire Bulletin.

At the hearing held on Dec. 11, lawyers for the Lottery Commission outlined four grounds for the possible revocation of Sanborn’s casino license, including the fraudulent acquisition of $844,000 in COVID relief funds not intended for casinos; the misappropriation of those funds for personal expenses, including purchasing a Ferrari and two Porsches and calling them business-related; exceeding documented lease amounts with loan funds for rent; and the failure to uphold accurate financial records and internal controls.

“This case is about the public’s confidence in charitable gaming and accountability,” the commission’s attorney Jessica King said in her opening statement at the hearing. “In New Hampshire, it is a privilege, not a right, to hold a gaming license.”

One of the cars he purchased was a Ferrari for his wife, State Rep. Laurie Sanborn, who also operates Concord Casino.

Sanborn’s legal team argued that he had enough cash on hand and in other accounts to pay for the luxury cars with his own money instead of using relief funds he received and put into his general operating account. 

The hearing examiner dismissed that argument, writing that there was a “straight line” from the receipt of the loan to the purchase of the automobiles.

Apart from misrepresenting his business, working alongside Sanborn also proved to be an issue for the staff at the Lottery Commission.

Leila McDonough, the Commission’s auditing administrator said several attempts to give Sanborn a chance to rectify the mistakes were frustrating.

“He has been the most difficult and challenging to work with,” she said at the hearing as the Commission’s witness. “He doesn’t seem to think that the rules and regulations apply to him.”

Sanborn is also under criminal investigation by state and federal authorities.