As the New Hampshire House prepares to vote on a casino bill this week, NHPR is bringing you a series of stories that look at the implications of opening a casino in the Granite State. Today we turn our focus to the potential social costs related to gambling addiction: how the state is handling problem gambling now, and how it could in the future.
If a casino is built in the state, charities in New Hampshire worry their low-stakes table games and bingo nights just won’t be able to compete. Many hold annual charity gaming events to raise funds, and fear big losses. Annmarie Timmins has been covering the casino debate for the Concord Monitor. She joined Morning Edition to talk about the possible effects to charitable gaming.
The gambling bill goes to the floor of the NH House for a full vote on Wednesday, after receiving a narrow 23-22 supercommittee vote resulting in a recommendation to kill the bill; the recommendation means that none of the amendments being debated in the House will be under consideration unless Wednesday's vote also fails to approve the bill. One such amendment would look to beef up regulation, while allowing for more revenue. Issues on the docket in the NH Senate include the Stand Your Groud repeal, Voter ID, the gas tax, the tobacco tax, medical marijuana, and the minimum wage.
No prospective casino developer has been in the news more than Bill Wortman and his firm, Millennium Gaming. Wortman has been courting the town of Salem for years and recently unveiled his concept for a casino at Rockingham Park.
Wortman may have started off as a CPA but he clearly enjoys the role of casino developer that he's morphed into. A beefy man who favors a casual, open collar look, Wortman began his gaming career in 1978 at one of the iconic casinos on the Las Vegas strip:
What would a casino at Rockingham Park mean for Salem city government? We traveled to Western Pennsylvania to find out. There, a $550 million casino and racetrack called The Meadows has injected millions into local government.
A team of reporters at NHPR is gearing up for a series next week that looks at what a casino at Rockingham Park – could mean for the town of Salem. To prepare for that series, our economy reporter Emily Corwin traveled to Washington County in Western Pennsylvania. The racetrack and casino there, called The Meadows, is run by Millennium Gaming. That’s the same company that already has an option to buy Rockingham Park, if legislation passes.
The New Hampshire House makes its first key vote as the casino bill is voted on by a supercommittee comprised of the House Finance and Ways & Means Committees; various amendments will be considered on Tuesday, with a committee vote and recommendation coming Wednesday. The New Hampshire Senate, meanwhile, continues to work on its budget, and the Senate Finance Committee prepares to hear from some of the larger state agencies - Health & Human Services, Transportation, and Environmental Services - on their budget needs.
Today on The Exchange, it's our Friday New Hampshire News Roundup. We're looking at some of the top stories of the week, from the one public hearing held on the state Senate's budget, to the House's hard look at the Senate casino bill, and the removal of "grow your own" policy from the medical marijuana bill.
Kevin Landrigan - Longtime political reporter for the Telegraph of Nashua.