A casino expansion bill, sponsored by New Hampshire Senator Lou D’Allesandro, was voted down by the state House on Thursday. New Hampshire lawmakers also approved a measure that would make sure that no such proposal would appear on the table throughout the rest of the current legislative session.
The bill was killed by a 275-82 vote in the 400-member House. The lower house of the state’s General Court has long opposed any proposals for casino expansion within the state’s borders.
Generally speaking, SB 242 called for the construction of two casinos in two different parts of the state. One of the gambling venues would have been a Category 1 one, with a minimum construction budget of $80 million. The other would have been a Category 2 facility, worth no less than $40 million. The two casinos would have featured a total of 5,000 slot machines and around 240 table games.
According to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. D’Allesandro, and other proponents, the proposed gambling expansion would have kept casino revenue in the state, would have created jobs, and would have benefited economy.
SB 242 was passed by the state Senate earlier this year. Despite the higher house’s support, the rejection of the legislative piece was not an unexpected outcome.
House lawmakers said on Thursday that the construction of new casinos would have negative economic and social impact. Representatives voiced concerns that increased gambling could bring rise in crime and problem gambling rates. In addition, they argued that the new casinos would cannibalize existing non-gaming businesses.
Lawmakers also pointed out that residents of the Granite State already travel to neighboring states to gamble at their casinos and with the ongoing New England casino expansion, there will soon be more casino locations in the region.
Unlike New Hampshire, which has maintained its conservative stance on casino gambling for another legislative session, other states in New England seem to be more keen on expanding their casino industries.
Massachusetts has been one such state. It legalized its commercial casino industry several years ago and as a result, two integrated resorts are under construction at present and are slated to open in 2018 and 2019. Here it is actually important to note that it is exactly Massachusetts that is to bring the integrated resort experience to the region.
Connecticut lawmakers are currently considering the opportunity to nod the construction of the state’s third casino, which will be operated by its two federally recognized tribes but will be located off reservation land. A third casino may be built in Maine, if a proposal gains enough support from lawmakers.
Bearing in mind the above facts, the New Hampshire House’s decision to kill the casino expansion effort is somewhat understandable. If all proposed casinos are built in a region not-so-large, this could oversaturate its market and produce the undesired effect of gambling properties struggling to steal customers from one another.