New Hampshire Casino Bill is Easily Defeated

Don’t expect casinos in the Granite State any time soon because New Hampshire’s House rejected a gambling bill by a 50-vote margin.

The legislation would have made way for both a large resort-style casino, along with a smaller casino. Licensing fees would have been $80 million and $40 million respectively, and annual gaming revenue was expected to be $135 million per year.

Supporters of the bill argued that the millions of tax dollars these casinos would have brought in are much needed in New Hampshire. However, it’s clear from the wide margin of defeat that House members didn’t believe the money was worth the negative social consequences.

“Casino gambling will not be an asset to New Hampshire,” casino opponent and Democratic Rep. Patricia Lovejoy told CBS Boston. “All New Hampshire can expect are hometown convenience casinos that pull money out of the pockets of our residents, not destination resorts attracting out-of-state residents.”

Judging from Lovejoy’s comments, it’s little surprise that the casino measure was defeated yet again in New Hampshire. Even still, Democratic Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, who sponsored the legislation and saw it pass in the state’s Senate, couldn’t believe the 50-vote margin in the House. “I was kind of shocked by the vote. I thought we would do much better,” said D’Allesandro.

Democratic Rep. Jackie Cilley went a step further in her support by saying, “This is one of the best-vetted pieces of legislation to come down the pipe in a very long time, and I would say probably the best (gambling) framework of any state in the country.”

Regardless of the quality legislation framework, the House’s opposition was just too loud in this matter. Opponents have often pointed out the drawbacks of casinos, namely with the social consequences and annual revenue uncertainty. Further criticisms included a weak licensing procedure, and a stipulation that future state politicians could divert funds meant for towns and cities to other governmental areas.

Without casinos, some New Hampshire residents will likely visit the casino that’s opening up in nearby Massachusetts. This point was stressed by those in favor of the legislation, who weren’t thrilled about tax dollars crossing state lines. Unfortunately for this group, there were too many concerns in the House that overshadowed the desire to keep gambling dollars in New Hampshire.