New Hampshire House Mulls Gaming

For the 14th time in as many years the New Hampshire House is considering a bill that would allow two casinos in the Granite State. This time could be the charm, say supporters. Opponents are just as hopeful.

Although the New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee is holding hearings on the previously passed Senate bill that would authorize two casinos in the Granite State, some pessimists feel it is just going through the motions.

The committee held five hours of testimony last week, with pro and con forces presenting their cases in much the same fashion that the debate has played out for the last 14 years.

Proponents, led by Senator Lou D’Allesandro, have been optimistic that some factors have changed, and might move the opponents in the House to loosen their hold on the chamber. This year they had some cause for optimism since last year’s bill was defeated in the House by just one vote. However, opponents feel confident too. They believe that once casinos are built in Massachusetts that the air will go out of the effort to build them in New Hampshire.

This year, as it has in the past, the Senate passed a bill for two casinos, one small and one large, but with a combined 5,000 slot machines. Senate President Chuck Morse, testifying before the House committee, said that the proposed casinos would prevent Massachusetts from drawing off $50 million when it opens its three casino resorts and one slots parlor.

Both sides are planning maximum efforts when the bill is sent to the full house floor.