New Hampshire House of Representatives Rejected Proposal to Build Two Casinos
New Hampshire’s House of Representatives rejected Senate Bill 113, which would have authorized the building of two land-based casinos in the state. The measure was voted down by a measure of 208-156, after it received a vote in a House Committee last week which moved it to the floor of the house.
House Bill 113 was proposed by State Senator Lou D’Allesandro, who has pushed similar bills in recent years. Sen. D’Allesandro seemed to be shocked by the wide margin of defeat, after a companion bill passed through the New Hampshire Senate by a wide margin in March 2015.
Governor Supported the Bill
Governor Maggie Hassan had signaled her support an expansion of gambling in New Hampshire and expressed disappointment that the measure was voted down in the House. With the chief executive of the state supporting it, any bill which passed would have been passed in the governor’s mansion. Leaders in the House and Senate had signaled support, too, but the House members felt the Granite State will be better served without such establishments.
Lovejoy Voices Opposition
Patricia Lovejoy, an outspoken critic of casino gambling in the House, gave a nice summary of the oppositional view on the issue. Rep. Lovejoy said, “Casino gambling will not be an asset to New Hampshire. All New Hampshire can expect are hometown convenience casinos that pull money out of the pockets of our residents, not destination resorts attracting out-of-state residents.”
Her argument certainly carried weight among a sizable majority of the House. With the recent gaming expansion in Massachusetts, New Hampshire is the only state in New England besides Vermont which does not have a brick-and-mortar casino resort.
New England Casino Expansion
The current measure in many ways is a reaction to the gaming expansion in nearby Massachusetts. The larger state approved the development of 3 gaming venues in the state in late-2014. One of those casinos will be the Wynn Resorts casino in Everett, Massachusetts. MGM Resorts is set to build a casino in Springfield in Western Massachusetts, while the third casino’s location is yet to be determined.
Given the saturation of the gaming market in the region, Rep. Lovejoy’s assumptions are likely correct. In a state of 1.33 million people, most of the gamblers are likely to come from instate and not from nearby regions. Under those circumstances, new money will not be flowing into the state.
15 Years of Futility
Most votes in New Hampshire have gone against proponents of gambling in recent years, though the state has a history of pro-gambling legislation. For instance, New Hampshire was the first US state to approve a lottery, way back in 1964. That landmark decision opened the doorway to decades of lotto expansion, which has resulted in the multi-state lotteries like Powerball and Mega Millions.
New Hampshire also has eight live poker rooms in Hampton, Hampton Falls, Keene, Manchester, Milford, Nashua, Rochester, and Tilton. Those card rooms, which contain between 2 and 20 poker tables apiece, are nowhere near as impressive as the casinos which were proposed. The state also has 2 dog track racinos, Lakes Region and Seabrook Greyhound Park, along with 1 horse track racino, Rockingham Park Race Track.
New England’s Casino Industry
The casino industry in New England is set for significant changes from 2015 to 2017. As one might expect, the center of those changes is in Massachusetts. The state of Massachusetts approved a casino bill in 2011, so the state underwent a long process to license the development of 3 land-based casinos: the Wynn Resorts casino in Everett, the MGM Resorts casino in Springfield, and a heretofore-to-be-named third casino. The prospect of those three developments has caused a great deal of buzz throughout New England.
Connecticut has moved to expand its gambling, allowing Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun to partner on one or more satellite casinos along the border of the state, hoping that keeps Connecticut gamblers inside the state. Mohegan Sun sought the casino license won by Wynn Resorts, but a joint plan with Suffolk Downs for Revere ended up losing out in the license process.
Suffolk Downs closed the next day, while the Chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is facing a serious scandal over the decision. It seems he recused himself from the Everett license process, only to (allegedly) meddle in the decision making. A Boston-area casino was considered that potentially lucrative.
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