N.H. gambling atmosphere changes considerably

Dec 3, 2012 6:10 PM

While the players seeking a casino license in Massachusetts keep changing, odds that a long-existing plan for a New Hampshire casino will beat them to the punch continue to grow. In fact, an editorial in the Lowell (Mass.) Sun newspaper says “you can bet on it.”

The New Hampshire gambling atmosphere has changed considerably since the election of a new governor who is on record as favoring one casino license for New Hampshire.

“And, if history is any guide,” says the Sun, “you can bet on the Granite State.”

Bureaucratic morass on Boston’s Beacon Hill, said the newspaper, is the reason Massachusetts won’t be ready to award a casino license until 2014. By that time, New Hampshire can have a casino up and running on the grounds of the former Rockingham Park, at the first New Hampshire exit along Interstate 93.

That would be great news for Millennium Gaming of Las Vegas, wrote the Sun. The company, whose principals are gaming veterans Bill Wortman and Bill Paulos of Cannery Casinos, have offered to build a $450 million casino/racing complex at the track.

N.H. Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, who has been fighting for more than two decades for expanded gambling in his state, says if his colleagues agree to pass a casino bill, Millennium could have the casino/track gambling operation ready to open its doors within a year.

That, notes the Lowell Sun, would complicate Massachusetts’ plans to award a license in the Boston area. Originally, the license seemed destined for Suffolk Downs but last week Steve Wynn showed his interest in building a casino in the City of Everett.

Both locations, said the Sun, have considerable roadway and other infrastructure challenges that don’t exist in Salem, N.H. Also, an operating casino in southern New Hampshire would cause potential developers to re-consider spending some $1 billion on a property that would have to compete for the gambling dollar.

Meanwhile, Ameristar Casinos Inc. has withdrawn from the competition for a casino license in Springfield, Mass. That leaves the bidding to MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming Inc.

It will be like Maryland déjà vu between those two gaming giants.

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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