'Backroom' business for Cannery in New Hampshire

Nov 23, 2009 7:15 PM
by Ray Poirier | There’s a popular restaurant in Manchester, N.H., called "The Backroom." That just happens to be the place that Bill Wortman, a principal of privately-held Cannery Casinos Resorts, entertained some 20 New Hampshire lawmakers last week.

Purpose of the gathering was Wortman’s attempt to get the state representatives to approve expanded gambling at Rockingham Park. If slots, and even table games, were approved at the Old Rock, says Wortman, his company would spend $450 million to refurbish the Salem, N.H., racetrack and restore thoroughbred racing.

Supported by state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, a Democratic powerhouse, slots legislation at the state’s tracks won Senate approval at the last legislative session. The effort was squashed in the House where little support for expanded gambling can be found among the 400 representatives.

D’Allesandro has added a new wrinkle to his gambling expansion proposal. He has introduced charities to the mix. In addition to slot machines, he says, the state’s tracks should be required to offer charity gaming.

Wortman says he would transform Rockingham Park in two phases. The first, he said, would be the addition of 5,000 slot machines and the charity-sponsored table games. This, he predicted would generate $205 million for the state, provided, that Massachusetts does not approve casino gambling.

The second phase, he said, would involve rebuilding of the track and the grandstand.

Cannery Casinos operate gaming properties in Las Vegas as well as a racino in Pennsylvania.`

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