Casino Coverage

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.  


SalFalko via Flickr CC

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.

John Wardell via Flickr CC

The 173-144 voted showed house lawmakers remain skeptical of casino gambling.

This bill envisioned up to 5000 slot machines and 150 table games at one location, was touted as the product of study and hard-won experience.

Jaffrey Democrat Richard Ames was its lead sponsor.

"We took what we learned and make a New Hampshire plan."

But critics said the plan, which beefed up the regulations included in the proposal the House rejected last year, ceded too much power to a gambling authority.

limconcon / Flickr Creative Commons

After yet another casino bill failed last year, new versions have emerged – with new regulations attached in hopes of appeasing opponents.  Supporters say a casino would bring in much-needed revenue to the state. But opposition remains among those worried about social costs, and those who question whether it would be profitable, given expanded gambling elsewhere in New England.


NHPR Staff

  The Ways and Means Committee passed this casino bill as soon as the public testimony ended, but the full Senate is expected to slow things down by tabling the bill until the House considers a proposal allowing one casino with a beefed up regulatory scheme.

Prior to voting in favor of the senate plan, Derry Republican Jim Rausch observed what’s obvious to anyone who’s watched N.H.’s casino debate: without movement in the House gambling goes nowhere.    

JV via Flickr CC

Update: The Senate Ways & Means Committee approved SB 366, 4-1, this morning. Sen. Bob Odell, R-Lempster, was the lone vote in opposition to the bill, which would license two casinos. Senate President Chuck Morse said the legislation will now move to the full Senate. Morse said the Senate will likely table it and wait for the House to act on its own gambling bill. That legislation, drafted by members of the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authorityenvisions a single casino, which Gov. Maggie Hassan supports.


On the Political Front this morning, NHPR's Josh Rogers discusses the results of last week's Republican primary to fill Ray Burton's Executive Council seat, as well as legislation on the docket for this week that would allow for casino gambling and legalizing marijuana in the Granite State.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

On a recent afternoon at the Common Grounds Cafe, 200 yards from the New Hampshire border in Methuen, Mass, a handful of men sit along a short counter or at several tables in the back of the cafe.

Eyes moving back and forth from their pink and white betting slips to two wall-mounted video monitors, they wait for the next drawing of a popular electronic lottery game called Keno.

Legislation that would bring Keno to an estimated 250 bars and restaurants would, for the first time, establish a program to treat gambling addiction in New Hampshire.

An amendment to HB 485 would set aside 1 percent of the sales from Keno - about $435,000 - to the state Department of Health and Human Services for education, treatment and prevention services. William Butynski, D-Hindale, who proposed the amendment, says it’s time for lawmakers to recognize that even state-sponsored gambling such as the lottery can cause problems for a small percentage of people who play.

It’s been two years since Massachusetts’ gaming law took effect, but so far, not a single casino has been licensed or built.  The law allows for three regional resort casino licenses and one slots parlor.  Casino proposals in the Southeastern part of the state have stalled.

A legislative stalemate over raising the gas tax and legalizing a casino could drive highway contractors out of New Hampshire to look for work in nearby states willing to fund infrastructure improvements.

The New Hampshire House passed a gas tax this year that the Senate killed. At the same time, the Senate passed a casino bill that the House rejected.

Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement said this past week that he worries funding won't be available to finish the state's top priority — expanding Interstate 93.

A special panel tasked with developing casino regulations for New Hampshire may meet with its newly hired consultant at its meeting Thursday.

The New Hampshire Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority recently hired WhiteSand Gaming of Nevada and New Jersey to help it write regulations for lawmakers to consider next year. The panel has a Dec. 15 deadline to submit draft legislation.

The agreement with WhiteSand says its charges cannot exceed $135,000.

Leslie Jones, 1933 / Leslie Jones Collection, Boston Public Library

This week, NHPR has been taking a close look at what a casino would mean for the town of Salem, a likely location for a gambling establishment.  On Wednesday, the House voted down the idea of expanded gaming.  We end our series today with a look back at the best—and worst—times The Rock has faced.

The democratically-controlled NH House voted yesterday to kill a bill authorizing a casino with as many as 5000 slot machines and 150 table games. The vote is blow to Governor Maggie Hassan, who lobbied hard for the bill.  As NHPR’s Josh Rogers reports, the 199-164 vote was consistent with the house’s longstanding opposition to casino gambling, but may strain its relations with the state Senate, which had backed the plan by a supermajority.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

The State House has rejected a bill to legalize a casino in southern New Hampshire, by a vote of 199 to 164.

NHPR’s Michael Brindley was on hand for the debate today in Representatives Hall. He joins All Things Considered host Brady Carlson with the latest.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

4:40: The House has voted 199-164 to kill SB 152. This means amendments will not be considered to the gambling legislation and the bill is dead.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

  Whether a casino would be a boon for businesses in Salem  depends on a number of factors. Based on anecdotal evidence from a trip to Washington County, PA, these are a few important ones.

1. Is your business a restaurant or shopping mall within a half mile of the casino? 

2. Does the casino bring in out-of-town visitors?

3. Are casino employees local residents? 

To get the whole story, have a listen:

Geraldine Pajak and her friend Pauline Stripp feed dollar bills into a Gladiator-themed slot machine at The Meadows in PA.

House Prepares To Vote On Casino Bill

May 21, 2013

The New Hampshire House will vote Wednesday on whether to legalize one casino along the  Massachusetts border.

Amanda Loder / NHPR

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.

Sara Plourde / NHPR
Sara Plourde / NHPR

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.

Millennium Gaming Focuses On The Basics, Not The Glitz

May 20, 2013
Emily Corwin / NHPR

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:

Emily Corwin / NHPR

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.

Joint House Committee Votes 23-22 To Kill Casino Bill

May 15, 2013

By a single vote, a special joint House committee has recommended killing a bill that would legalize a casino in New Hampshire.