Casino Coverage

Brady Carlson / NHPR

On The Political Front is our weekly conversation with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers. This week, a look at the New Hampshire primary and the state budget.

So, it’s official: the Democratic presidential primary will include more than just Hillary Clinton. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is in the race, and says he’s in it to win.

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North Country reps were about evenly divided on whether to allow casino gambling, but the division wasn’t along party lines.

As NHPR reported  on Wednesday the House again rejected casino gambling, killing SB 113 by a vote of 208 to 156.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

The New Hampshire House has again rejected casino gambling, killing the bill by a vote of 208 to 156.

On Wednesday, more than a dozen lawmakers spoke for or against the measure – many others left the chamber saying “they have heard this all before.”

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House lawmakers are set to vote Wednesday on a bill to legalize two casinos in the Granite State.

New Hampshire is just the latest New England state to look to casino gambling as a way to fill budget holes, raising the question of whether the Northeast gambling market is getting too crowded.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Gov. Maggie Hassan says she would likely sign a two-casino bill now before the Legislature if it came to her desk.  

Hassan's comments on Friday are the first time she's said she would sign the measure and they come two days after she told reporters she doesn't think a market exists for two casinos in the state.  

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Gov. Maggie Hassan says she doesn't think a market exists for two casinos in New Hampshire, as proposed in a bill that has passed the Senate and is now before the House.

Brady Carlson, NHPR

The House Ways and Means committee has narrowly voted to recommend passage of a bill to authorize casinos in New Hampshire.

Before the 11 to 10 vote, committee members exchanged arguments familiar to anyone who’s followed casino debates in the past. Backers like Republican Gary Azarian of Salem said that, in addition to boosting jobs and economic growth, casinos would give the state revenue to fund its priorities without increasing taxes or fees.

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Like the return of spring crocuses, New Hampshire’s perennial gambling debate is back. Earlier this year, the Senate passed a two-casino bill and sent it to the House, which has been a graveyard for these measures.  We’ll find out if this time will be any different and look at how arguments around economic benefits and social costs have played out in other states.

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Senate President Chuck Morse has repeatedly said he won’t include money derived from unapproved forms of gambling in the senate budget proposal. He reiterated that point as he pitched the casinos -- which could include a total of 5000 slot machines and 240 table games -- to the house ways and means committee.

"You know we are going to fund the needs of the people of the state of N.H. in the state budget, but I can assure you the wants are much greater."


A key House committee is preparing to take public testimony on a bill that would legalize two casinos in New Hampshire.

The House Ways and Means Committee, which has previously rejected casino proposals, will hold a public hearing Tuesday morning. Casino gambling has never won approval in the House, but an endorsement from the committee would improve its chances this year.

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Senators gave initial approval to legalizing two casinos, giving another shot at life to a perennial New Hampshire issue.

The two-casino bill passed the chamber Thursday by a single vote, 13-11, and will now be sent to the House. Casinos have often found support in the Senate but the House has never voted to legalize any casinos.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan supports a single casino as a means to bring new, non-tax revenue into the state, but she has not said whether she would sign a bill for two.

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  The state senate Ways and Means Committee will hear a bill that would approve the creation of two casinos this Tuesday morning.

Long-time casino champion and sponsor of the bill, Democratic Senator Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester, says this bill has a lot more revenue sharing than past bills.

“Every person in the state has a stake in this piece of legislation.”

D’Allesandro says the hosting community, neighboring communities, the hosting county and the state health department each get a cut of the revenue.

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Early figures from the Maine Gambling Control Board show slot machine revenue at the state's two casinos remained nearly flat last year when compared to the previous year.

Slot players gambled $459.6 million last year at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, an almost 2 percent decline from the $468.9 million bet in 2013.

Exact year-end figures for Oxford Casino won't be available for a few months, but casino managers have told the state that it will pocket $31.5 million after taxes, just $7,600 more than in 2013 when players gambled $677 million on slots there.

Via MGM's project website

Gambling money will begin flowing into local government coffers in earnest now that the state's casino law survived an Election Day repeal effort.

In the coming weeks, MGM says it will make more than $1 million in community payments to Springfield, where it is building an $800 million resort. The company will also pay over $1.5 million to eight surrounding municipalities by Dec. 6.

In a debate Thursday morning on WGIR, Governor Maggie Hassan repeatedly went after Republican Walt Havenstein for a pledge he signed earlier this year with the conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

“By singing that Koch brothers pledge, he is pledging to undo our Medicaid expansion, he’s pledging no matter what to do what the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity tell him to do.”

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has awarded the Boston-area casino license to Wynn Resorts, which plans to build a casino resort in Everett.

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe says it's a step closer to having land placed in trust for a proposed resort casino in Taunton.

The U.S. Department of Interior has released a final environmental impact statement on the 151-acre site. The move begins a one-month comment period before the decision is formally recorded.

Bay State Gambling Debate: What It Means For N.H.

Aug 5, 2014
Lisa Brewster / Flickr/CC

We're checking in with the ongoing debate over casino projects in Massachusetts and the referendum coming this November on whether to repeal the three-year-old law. We'll also look into how the gambling debate in Massachusetts might impact New Hampshire.



Massachusetts' highest court says voters can decide the fate of the state's casino gambling law.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday that a question calling for repeal of the 2011 law can be on the November ballot.

The ruling overturns Attorney General Martha Coakley's finding that the proposed ballot question is unconstitutional because it would cause casino developers to lose property without compensation.

Legislative Roundtable: Reflections On 2014

Jun 9, 2014
Rachel James / Flickr/CC

We're sitting down with a panel of House and Senate leaders to look back on the year in the legislature. It was a year of victories for supporters of Medicaid Expansion, but of disappointment for casino backers and death penalty opponents.  And it ended with several major players announcing they’re getting out of the game and retiring from politics. 


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All Things Considered is looking at some of the key bills of the 2014 legislative session – and how they ended up passing or failing to pass.

This year's casino debate may have seen some new lines of argument, but the outcome was the same as in years past: casino proposals won support in the State Senate, but came up short in the State House.

Reporter Norma Love of the Associated Press explains the dynamic behind this year's casino debate to NHPR's Brady Carlson.

Gambling Takes Center Stage In Congressional Race

Jun 2, 2014
Todd Bookman / NHPR

Casinos are shaping up to be a key issue in the 2nd Congressional District’s Republican primary.

At competing events Monday, several state representatives from Salem who back expanded gaming publicly endorsed GOP candidate Gary Lambert.

Meanwhile in Concord, anti-casino activists defended fellow Salem Representative Marilinda Garcia’s vote against a plan to legalize two casinos, despite overwhelming public support in her district.

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House and Senate negotiators have reached a tentative deal on a bill to tighten rules for table games operated in the name of New Hampshire charities.

The House and Senate still must vote on Friday's deal. The bill establishes new financial record-keeping and reporting requirements for charities and deeper background investigations by the attorney general.

The bill clarifies the definition of so-called redemption slot machines and the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission's enforcement authority over them.

The House has decided not to reconsider the two-casino proposal it rejected by a single vote at last week’s session.

Dave via Flickr CC

The result was the same as every other casino bill ever taken up by the New Hampshire House, but the tally produced a gasp.


The 172-172 ties was broken by deputy house speaker Naida Kaen

“The chair votes in the affirmative….Senate bill 3666 is voted inexpedient to legislate.”

A Senate plan to legalize two casinos could be headed for a familiar fate in the House, after members of the Ways and Means committee voted 11-9 Tuesday to kill the proposal.

Expanded Gambling: Will New Bill Change Minds?

Apr 21, 2014
Mark Menzies / Flickr/CC

After many failed attempts to pass a casino bill, supporters think they may finally have a winning hand -- proposing two casinos and a new revenue-sharing plan. Opponents are raising long-held concerns about gambling’s social costs, including addiction and crime. We’ll look at this new bill and its odds for passing.  


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Casino supporters are betting that a plan to distribute more than $25 million in gambling revenue to New Hampshire cities and towns will convince House lawmakers to reverse their historic opposition to expanded gaming.

Less than a month after it killed a casino bill favored by Gov. Maggie Hassan, the House will begin discussion on Senate Bill 366, which proposes to authorize two casinos in the Granite State.

Three weeks after claiming lawmakers had driven a stake through the heart of the gambling industry, anti-gambling activists are again raising alarm -- over a new casino proposal.

 A state senator who has tried for years to persuade New Hampshire lawmakers to legalize a casino is going to try again despite a House vote to reject one last week.

Sen. Lou D'Allesandro plans to ask the Senate to amend his bill Thursday to add the regulatory scheme in the defeated House bill and send it to the House in hopes his proposal will have a different outcome.