Senator Revives New Hampshire Casino Plan
Several bills in the New Hampshire legislature are active that would allow forms of gaming. One, by casino stalwart Senator Lou D’Allesandro (l.) revives his perennial bill that would allow two casinos in the state.
New Hampshire state Senator Lou D’Allesandro, who has fought for casino bills for more years than most people have spent serving in legislatures has introduced a new one in this session.
The idea once advanced so far that then Governor Maggie Hassan included casino licensing fees in her proposed state budget for two years. Problem has always been that D’Allesandro has support in the Senate, but his bills usually wreck on the shoals of the much more conservative and the 400-member House, whose members are fiercely independent.
For years, he hoped that Salem’s 110-year old 170-acre Rockingham Park would be the home for a $650 million casino complex that Millennium Gaming wanted to build. That moment passed by and the park closed in August. Now a Tuscan Village proposal has been proposed to take its place.
However, the senator still wants the $195 million per year he believes two casinos would generate in tax revenue from casinos and to share the $25 million he believes is there for the picking with municipalities.
When he introduced his bill D’Allesandro announced, “This bill is an economic recovery creation package. Right now, we have gambling going on all around us and New Hampshire is seeing none of the benefits.”
In a separate but related development Rep. Eric Schleien last month introduced HB562, which would decriminalize online gaming in the Granite State. It would not put in place a regulatory framework, but simply except it from the legal definitions of “illegal gambling.”
The bill says, “This bill exempts gambling done over the internet from gambling offenses under RSA 647. The Department of Justice to date has neither investigated nor prosecuted online gaming offenses and therefore does not expect this bill to have any impact on expenditures.”
The bill might possibly affect the state lottery and charitable gaming revenues because some people might be tempted to play online instead of availing themselves of those forms of gaming. As written, the bill would not collect any taxes from the activity.
It concedes this point: “To the extent this bill legalizes a form of gambling, it may have an indeterminable impact on lottery and charitable gaming revenue.”
Other states that are considering legalizing online gaming this year include Michigan, Hawaii, New York, California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, Rep. Gary Azarian has introduced a bill that would allow keno in the state.
Rep. Robert Elliott backs both D’Alessandro’s bill and Schleien’s proposal, House Bill 560. He told the Eagle-Tribune, “I’m highly in favor of that. I have been fighting that battle for 20 years. We need the revenue.”