Breaking news – New Hampshire will not have a casino.
No, this is not a repeat of a previous post, just “Deja vu” all over again.
Senator Lou D’Allesandro’s 20th consecutive proposal for a casino bill was overturned by an 11 to 10 vote by the Senate last week. After struggling for over two long decades to get his co-legislators to think more progressively, after his bill’s defeat, he has decided to step down from his position and give it all up.
When it comes to gambling states, New Hampshire is not Nevada, nor New Jersey, not that the good senator hasn’t tried to make it that way. It doesn’t have a casino – not that interest hasn’t sparked here and there. Some in the Granite state will stand by New Hampshire’s card rooms (check out “New Hampshire Adds a New…….Casino?”) while others continue to want a commercial brick-and-mortar casino, only to have it knocked down time and time again. All except one have been backed by Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, a longtime backer of expanded gambling in New Hampshire.
Let’s take a look back:
- 2013 – Senate’s bill included 5,000 slots and 150 table games at a single casino and was defeated in the House. Rockingham Park considered site.
- 2014 – The Senate’s bill called for 3,500 slots and 160 table games at the category 1 casino and 1,500 slots and 180 table games at the category 2 facility. The House Ways and Means Committee voted 11-9 to kill Bill 1633 – which would establish the regulatory framework and oversight authority for a casino with up to 5,000 video slot machines and 150 table games. The committee also voted to kill three other casino bills, two that would have allowed six casinos in various parts of the state.
- 2015 – The New Hampshire House once again rejected casino gambling voting down a proposal that would have legalized two venues that supporters said would have provided badly needed revenue.
- 2016 – Rep. Dan McGuire pushes for ‘largest gambling bill’ in New Hampshire’s history, House Bill 630, which would allow not just one or two casinos, but hundreds of bars and restaurants in the state to host up to six video lottery machines each. Businesses holding a liquor license could host the machines, which will let customers play slots, poker or blackjack in their premises—as long as the machines are off limits to children and separated from family spaces. McGuire expected at least 1,000 out of the 1,800 liquor licensees in New Hampshire will apply to host these video lottery terminals.
- 2017 – A bill is introduced that offers two licenses – anybody can bid on them, and can be built anywhere in NH. A Category 1 license is $80 million; the Category 2 license is $40 million. The A license is a little bit larger than the B license. Once again, rejected.
It’s time for a different strategy. New Hampshire doesn’t seem to want the help of casino revenue. To be honest, the competition would be steep. The southern half of the state, which includes about 2/3 of state’s land, is also where over 2/3 of the state’s population resides. Surrounded by MGM Springfield, ??? Boston Harbor, and Oxford Casino (now with two hotels) in Maine provides too much to overcome. Hanover, NH, half way up New Hampshire on the Vermont border is only two hours away from Boston’s new casino resort – Springfield even less. Gamblers have traveled longer to visit Connecticut casinos for years.
D’Allesandro reiterated that by failing to legalize the casino bill in the state, New Hampshire has essentially missed out on nearly $1 billion in casino taxes that could have otherwise served to uplift the local community in the last 20 years. He also was heard taking credit for the expansion in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut after legislators in those states copied his ideas, saying they were “taking his cue and reaping the benefits of his unique ideas and suggestions.”
Hmmm, try convincing the Pequots at Foxwoods of that.