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Sanborn Craps Out, Loses Casino License

Andy Sanborn’s luck has run out.

After finding Sanborn lied on his application for $844,000 in COVID relief money and then used that cash to pay himself $240,000 and buy sports cars, hearing officer Michael King ordered Sanborn to sell his Concord Casino business.

King is the independent hearing officer who presided over the administrative rules hearing regarding complaints brought by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission against Sanborn, a former GOP state senator and one-time candidate for Congress.

“The misrepresentations on the EIDL [Economic Injury Disaster Loan] 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 an order released Thursday.  

Sanborn’s casino license is now suspended for six months, during which time he must find a buyer who can pass the New Hampshire Lottery Commission’s background check. If no suitable buyer is found in that time, the license will be revoked.

Testimony from this month’s hearing and evidence filed in the case revealed Sanborn tried to hide the fact from the federal government that his EIDL loan was going to a casino business. Casinos were not eligible for the EIDL program.

Sanborn and loan consultant Michael Evans listed the business as “Win Win Win LLC” and did not use the trade name “Concord Casino,” King noted in his order. The pair also claimed the business engaged in “miscellaneous services” and not that it was a “charitable gaming facility,” according to King.

When Sanborn started getting the COVID money, he had a little more than $900 in his business bank account, according to King. Within a couple of weeks, Sanborn started buying. According to the evidence, he bought a pair of Porsches, a Ferrari for his wife, state Rep. Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford), and expensive car parts.

Those purchases would be listed as business equipment in Win Win Win’s financial statements, according to the review.

Further, Sanborn paid himself $240,000 in rent between January and August 2022 for the casino’s Main Street space in Concord. 

Sanborn owns the building housing the casino through a different LLC called The Best Revenge LLC. While the original lease agreement between Win Win Win and The Best Revenge is for a $500 a month lease, Sanborn was making payments to himself ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 a month for rent, according to the evidence. 

Sanborn claimed the 40-fold rent increase was due to his casino floor space increasing six and a half percent. While it was alleged Sanborn was diverting COVID money to himself through rent, King found Sanborn’s high rental payments to himself started in 2021 before he received any COVID cash.

Sanborn started making payments in November 2021, ranging from $5,000 to $22,000. Those payments were seen as “wildly excessive” by the state.

The decision ends Sanborn’s second act as a casino owner. He was in the process of developing a larger casino in Concord when the state alleged he had fraudulently obtained the COVID money.

Sanborn has 15 days to appeal King’s decision, though he might have other legal concerns. The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office are now looking into Andy and Laurie Sanborn. The pair are the subject of an investigation by the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit.

Problems at Sanborn Casino ‘Off the Charts,’ Auditor Testifies in Hearing

“It was off the charts.”

Leila McDonough, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission auditor, described the volume of issues the state had with Andy Saborn’s Concord Casino.

McDonough made the comments during a Monday hearing over whether the former state senator can keep his casino owner’s license despite accusations of fraud, including using COVID relief money to buy sports cars. While Sanborn’s attorneys claimed Sanborn did nothing wrong, McDonough testified Sanborn never cared to follow the rules.

The Department of Safety showdown featured one witness for the state, McDonough, the woman who for years was tasked with trying to get Sanborn to follow state regulations.

McDonough’s testimony painted the picture of Sanborn as entitled and stubborn, a casino operator whose refusal to follow basic accounting procedures created a huge mess — or worse, led to massive fraud.

For instance, when a casino owner claims to have hundreds of thousands in cash, but he won’t let the state auditor in charge of casino financial reports count the money, you have a problem, she said.

“How can you conduct an audit that includes cash when you’re not allowed to count the cash?” McDonough asked. “Eventually, you have to assume the cash doesn’t exist since you’re not allowed to see it or count it.”

She said Sanborn was difficult to deal with since he opened his casino in 2018. Both Sanborn and his wife, state Rep. Laurie Sanborn, would call the commission to complain about audits and regulations they had to follow, McDonough said. The Concord Casino’s record-keeping was sloppy at best, she added, and Sanborn never appeared to take the legal requirement from the commission seriously. 

McDonough is the Lottery Commission auditor who spotted enough red flags to go to the commission’s enforcement officials. who then brought in New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella. Formella has said a criminal probe by his office is also underway.

At one point, McDonough said, she found a statement of cash flows for July 2021 through to July 2020.

“This is actually the document that made me very concerned,” McDonough said.

That document showed Sanborn’s casino ran a $29,000 operating loss in that year and had no cash. This was at the time Sanborn claimed to have $200,000 in cash in secure locations McDonough was not allowed to see.

The statement also showed a large amount of cash invested in large equipment that had little to do with the business, like two Porsches and a Ferrari. The Ferarri was reportedly a gift for Laurie Sanborn. 

Sanborn still managed to report $23,000 in cash for owner’s equity, McDonough testified. According to the records, Sanborn reported taking $5,700 in cash out of a bank and putting that into the equity cash amount.

“I’ve never seen this done with any other entity,” she said. “That was very odd.”

The financial statement McDonough revised seemed to show the whole operation was being funded with $844,000 in COVID relief loan money. The records also repeatedly showed large ticket purchases like the sports cars and tens of thousands in car parts charged business expenses.

McDonough reportedly uncovered Sanborn was also paying himself rent for the casino. The casino is owned through Sanborn’s LLC called Win, Win, Win LLC, but the Main Street property in Concord, where the casino is housed, is owned by another Sanborn LLC, The Best Revenge LLC.

The lease agreement between Best Revenge and Win, Win, Win has the casino pay the property $6,000 a year in rent, paid at $500 a month. According to the audit, Sanborn wired $163,500 from Win, Win, Win to Best Revenge between January and August 2022 to cover the rent. 

That was more than $20,000 a month for the $500 a month rent.

McDonough said the records had a lot of large, round numbers for expenses that lacked detail and supporting documentation.

Sanborn was not at the hearing. One of his attorneys,  Zachary Hafer, said Sanborn is in Boston receiving medical treatment. His legal team includes attorney Mark Knights, who argued the state’s case simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

“It is an incomplete story that has yawning gaps in the evidence,” Knights said.

Place Your Bets — Sanborn Casino Hearing Set for Monday

Accused of spending COVID relief money on sports cars, Andy Sanborn is betting he can keep the license for his Concord Casino.

Sanborn, a former GOP state senator, is now set to argue his case to the New Hampshire Lottery Commission at a Monday hearing after weeks of delays. Sanborn sued the state to push back the hearing, originally scheduled for October. He successfully got more time for his lawyers to put together his defense.

Sanborn has denied the accusation that he misused $844,000 in COVID relief funds to buy himself two Porsches and a Ferrari for his wife, state Rep. Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford.).

In August, the Lottery Commission and New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella publicly declared Sanford unfit to hold a casino license based on the alleged misdeeds uncovered during a regular background investigation.

Sanborn first got the casino license in 2018. He was up for renewal when the alleged fraud was found.

Along with three vehicles allegedly bought with COVID money, the May 2022 audit found Sanborn was paying himself rent for the casino. It is owned through Sanborn’s Win, Win, Win LLC, but the Main Street property in Concord is owned by another Sanborn business, The Best Revenge LLC.

The lease agreement between Best Revenge and Win, Win, Win has the casino pay the property $6,000 a year in rent, paid out at $500 a month. According to the audit, Sanborn wired $163,500 from Win, Win, Win to Best Revenge between January and August 2022 to cover the rent. 

That was more than $20,000 a month for the $500 a month rent. To put it another way, Sanborn appears to have paid himself for more than 27 years of rent in eight months.

According to the audit, Sanborn’s casino was losing money, and the business was down to a little more than $900 available cash before the COVID relief money came through.

Sanborn disputes those facts, claiming the audit looked at the wrong accounts and he had about $150,000 available. While the business lost money in 2020, things had picked up in 2021, he states. Sanborn claims the casino generates $400,000 a month in revenue.

The commission had concerns about Sanborn before the May 2022 audit. Records show his suitability to hold a casino license was being questioned. The commission had worries about his past stint as a state senator, where crude jokes resulted in allegations of sexual harassment in 2013 and an investigation into a bribe to hush up a witness in 2018.

Sanborn was cleared of the bribery accusation. He acknowledged making a crude joke in front of an intern. The exact joke has not been disclosed, but records indicate he was discussing oral sex. One woman told investigators she was warned not to be alone with Sanborn when she started her job in the State House.

The commission was also concerned about the lawsuit brought by creditors in his business bankruptcy filing. Sanborn filed for bankruptcy in 2004 as his business, Brannigan’s Cycleworks, was failing. According to court records, he was sued by creditors who accused him of moving money ahead of the bankruptcy.

After Formella announced the charges, Laurie Sanborn was forced to step down from her role as chair of the new state gambling commission. Formella referred the matter to his office’s Public Integrity Unit as well as to the United States Attorney for the District of New Hampshire.

Viva New Hampshire: Secret Casino Applications and Horse Racing Slot Machines

No one knows who is about to win big with casino licenses, including lucrative Historic Horse Racing, but that didn’t stop the House Ways and Means Committee from making it rain. 

Public documents obtained by NHJournal point to well-known developers involved in a new casino project in Salem. There are links between the Salem casino proposal and Tuscan Village developer Joe Faro, as well as to the family behind Sal’s Pizza. The question is, are they going to benefit from Historic Horse Racing?

The Ways and Means Committee pushed through SB 112 last week, which extends the moratorium on new Historic Horse Racing licenses but adds a carve-out for any pending license currently under consideration by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission.

Without the bill, the moratorium is set to sunset next summer, potentially opening up Historic Horse Racing across the state. If the bill passes, Historic Horse Racing would be limited to already licensed casinos and the five pending casino applicants. There are currently 14 licensed casinos in the state, though not all of them have Historic Horse Racing.

The amendment, proposed by Rep. Fred Doucette (R-Salem), allows any application brought to the Lottery Commission between January and October of this year to be eligible for licenses with Historic Horse Racing machines. Five applications are currently pending that meet this timeframe, and no one knows who they are.

New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director Charlie McIntyre isn’t showing his cards. McIntyre said state law prohibits divulging the identities of people applying for casino licenses while their applications are under review. 

“That’s not dissimilar from other licenses across the state,” McIntyre told the committee.

Gov. Chris Sununu opposes the moratorium, but Sen. Tim Lang (R-Sanbornton) told the House Ways and Means Committee last month Sununu would back the amendment that carves out Historic Horse Racing for the pending applications.

Lang told NHJournal he has no idea who is behind the five applications, and he doesn’t want to know. The secrecy protects the applicant and legislators, Lang said.

“We don’t want to be accused of knowing. We’re happy we don’t know,” Lang said.

But Salem Planning Director Jacob LaFontaine told the board last summer he had meetings with a casino group called Aces of Salem LLC that wants to turn the Tuscan Kitchen property at 67 Main Street into a casino.

Salem property records show the site is currently owned by J&S Investments LLC, with a mailing address in Massachusetts. According to New Hampshire Secretary of State records, Joe Faro, the developer behind the Tuscan Village development in Salem, is the registered agent for J&S Investments LLC.

Faro did not respond to a request for comment. 

Aces of Salem LLC lists Michael Lupoli as the manager in its state filing. The LLC was created in 2022. Lupoli is the brother of Sal Lupoli, the man behind Sal’s Pizza. Sal Lupoli turned his pizza chain into a business empire that includes commercial and residential real estate development. 

Michael Lupoli did not respond to questions from NHJournal.

It is not known if the Aces of Salem application is one of the five currently under review by the Lottery Commission. Part of the application process includes a suitability investigation, and McIntyre said releasing identities before suitability investigations are complete could result in unsuccessful applicants having their reputations harmed. He said the public would essentially be told these people were found unsuitable by the Lottery Commission.

Contacted by NHJournal, New Hampshire Lottery Commission spokeswoman Maura McCann said the names of applicants have never been disclosed prior to approval, not even to legislators. McCann said state law is clear about shielding the identities.

“That information has not been disclosed to anyone outside of Lottery, including the legislature,” McCann said. 

While McIntyre maintained those are standard rules for any licensed business in the state, not every business is licensed to make money the way casinos do. Historic Horse Racing, also known as Insta-Racing, is expected to bring in nearly $100 million. Unlike other casino games in New Hampshire, the businesses take the lion’s share. 

Historic Horse Racing machines are essentially slot machines. The machines use the results from thousands of horse races to create a fast-moving betting game. A player puts in their money, and the machine randomly picks a historic race. The bettors, sitting at a terminal resembling a video slot machine, pick horses to win, place, or show. They don’t know the horses’ names or other identifying details about the races. After a quick video depicting a race, the results are displayed. Like slot machines, Historic Horse Racing encourages long sessions of repetitive betting.

And that repeat business is great for the casinos. Under New Hampshire’s charitable gaming scheme, charities get 35 percent of the net revenue from table games (roulette, craps, blackjack, etc.), and the casinos get 65 percent. The state comes in first and takes 10 percent off the gross before anyone else gets a dollar.

But Historic Horse Racing changes the math in favor of the casinos. Casinos collect 75 percent of the HHR gross, and the state gets another 16.25 percent. That leaves charities to make do with just 8.75 percent of the “charitable gaming” cut.

Lang said that before the permanent moratorium voted on by the House Ways and Means Committee, “I brought an amendment that would allow for the incremental growth in the industry, with a four-year moratorium to allow the gaming study commission to do its work and file any recommended changes in the law. I thought that was the right way to have the legislature get involved with the information we needed to make the best decision.

“The House action, however, seems to put the cart before the horse — pun intended,” Lang said.


EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article mistakenly identified Michael Lupoli as son of Sal Lupoli. Michael is his brother. NHJournal regrets the error.

Sanborn Gambles with Casino Hearing

Casino operator Andy Sanborn wants to take his chances in front of the state Lottery Commission, but his odds aren’t looking good.

The former GOP state senator has decided to publicly challenge charges that he stole COVID relief money and used the cash for sports carts and other luxuries.

Sanborn is set to appear before the New Hampshire Lottery Commission on Oct. 3 to appeal Executive Director Charlie McIntyre’s decision that he is too corrupt to own and operate a casino in the Granite State. Concord recently approved a second casino and a microbrewery, which were part of a planned Sanborn development.

But now the scandal-plagued Republican may lose his license to operate a gambling business altogether.

Sanborn is accused of misappropriating $844,000 in pandemic relief tax dollars while operating a casino at his Draft Sports Bar and Grill, which he owns along with his wife, state Rep. Laurie Sanborn (R-Bedford). The allegations against her business partner forced her to give up her position as chair of the state’s new commission reviewing practices in the charitable gaming industry.

McIntyre sent Sanborn a letter on Aug. 31 laying out the findings of the commission’s investigation. According to a statement released by Attorney General John Formella, Sanborn “fraudulently applied for and received at least one Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), with loan proceeds of $844,000. Further, investigators obtained evidence indicating that after receiving those taxpayer dollars, Mr. Sanborn used them to purchase at least three race cars: two Porsche 987 Cayman S racers for his personal use, and a Ferrari F430 challenge racer as a gift for his wife, Rep. Laurie Sanborn.”

Sanborn also allegedly used COVID money to make 27 years’ worth of prepaid rent payments on another business he owns.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are now looking into Sanborn’s practices. According to Formella’s statement, that includes “a review by the Public Integrity Unit of the actions of all of the individuals and entities involved.” That would presumably include Laurie Sanborn.

Andy Sanborn’s checkered political career includes a bribery investigation after he allegedly made a “crude joke” to a Senate intern in 2013. After the joke was made, the exact nature of which has never been revealed, the intern was given a full-time job in the Senate and an envelope with $200 in cash.

Five years later, an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office did not result in any charges, and Sanborn denied any wrongdoing.

“No one in the room was offended by the joke,” Sanborn said in 2018. “No complaint was filed. Case closed. If that’s news, so be it.”

Sanborn threatened a college student in 2014 via email after the student, one of Sanborn’s constituents, sent an email asking Sanborn to support marijuana legalization. A clearly irked Sanborn called the student “a college freshman who just wants to get high at any cost” and implied he would get the student’s scholarship revoked.

“I’m thinking if I call the [organization you received a scholarship from] and ask their opinion on legalization, they may have a different opinion (not to mention may be asking you for their scholarship money back…).” Sanborn wrote.

Sanborn made a failed bid for Congress in 2018 after serving in the state Senate for eight years.