New Hampshire House Kills Casino Bill, Approves Sports Betting
In a strange political game of chicken, New Hampshire Senator Lou D’Allesandro (l.) allowed his two casino bill to die a permanent death in this session in order to preserve a sports betting bill that an opponent had threated to tie to his bill in a sort of “poison pill.” By his action, the sports betting bill stays alive.
The New Hampshire House last week voted down a measure that would have allowed two casino in the Granite State. The vote was 289-63 to “indefinitely postpone” the bill, which means it can’t be brought up again this year.
The means that the sports betting bill that passed the House in March with a vote of 269-82 has clear sailing without a “poison pill” attached to it.
Senate Bill 310 had been seen as an impediment to a sports betting bill because of a threat by some senators to attach the two bills together.
Without Senate Bill 3010 looming over it, the sports betting bill passed out of the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee, 5-0 heading towards the floor for a full vote of the chamber.
The casino bill’s author, Senator Lou D’Allesandro, agreed to table his bill in order to allow the sports betting bill a free path forward. He told Legal Sports Report, “Whether it be the budget or the sports betting bill, it will kill whatever you attach it to. I’m choosing not to kill the sports betting bill.”
His bill would have authorized two casinos with a total of 5,000 video lottery terminals between them and gaming tables. He claims the state would make about $160 million each year.
Rep. Timothy Lang, who wrote the sports betting bill commented “The House is not amenable to casinos right now, and anything that the Senate puts in to that effect will act as a poison pill to the whole bill.”
With the “poison pill” removed, the bill now moves to the Senate. In the current bill there could be up to ten retail locations, something that critics claim benefits just a few operators. Lang said the intent was not to create a monopoly. He said he prefers for the lottery to decide how many licenses there can be, depending on the market.
Governor Chris Sununu has said he will sign the sports betting bill if it reaches his desk. In February’s budget address he said, “Given our new opportunities to legalize sports betting in a responsible and reliable way, and capture more revenue for our education system, I say we go all in and get it done.”
Senator D’Allesandro predicted that some form of the sports book bill would pass in the Senate. He told WSN: “It may not look like the sports betting bill we saw come over, but I think it’s going to pass.”
The Senator, who is the longest serving member of the chamber, has been trying to pass a casino bill since 1999. He seldom has trouble finding enough votes in the Senate, but traditionally his casino bills crash and burn in the House, which has a tradition of gritty independence.
Supporters say the sports betting bill could bring in as much as $10 million a year in state revenue. It would allow betting on professional sports teams, but not New Hampshire college teams. It would be regulated by the New Hampshire Lottery, which would also run its own sportsbook.
Customers at Seabrook Greyhound Park say that sports book, if it passes, will make the experience at the recently renovated park even better.
Seabrook was purchased earlier this year by Andre Carrier, chief executive officer of Eureka Casino Resort and partner Greg Lee. They are renovating the park, brought in a new chef and a fresher tavern menu, and are holding parties to attract potential charitable foundation partners. By law, gaming operations pay 35 percent to local charities.
Speaking of the new menu, which is classy, with locally sourced products by not pretentious, Carrier told the New Hampshire Union Leader “I wanted to give the customer a better experience right away.”
Carrier wants to make an impact on local charities with his new purchase. “We are impact philanthropists. We tend to have a very active role in essential services for charities.”
He has his fingers crossed for sports betting in New Hampshire. “This will be the best place to get together and watch sports within 200 miles,” he says, pointing out where the big screen televisions will be located.