Bill to Legalise Table Games and Video Lottery in New Hampshire Gets a Thumbs Down from State Senate

New Hampshire Senate has voted against extending gambling laws at the historic race course, Rockingham Park in Salem. The bill would allow developers to build a casino at the site and introduce various table games and video lottery offerings for visitors.

The Bill

Senate Bill 551 – Establishing video lottery and table gaming at one location, sponsored by Senator Lou D'Allesandro was introduced on February 2, 2016. The bill looked to enable the lottery commission to license just one casino, which would then be able to provide video lottery machines and table gaming at Rockingham Park in Salem. According to this proposed legislation, proceeds from slot machine and table game income were expected to be used to reimburse the gaming regulatory oversight authority for some of their expenses. They were also to pay for the operation of the Salem Gaming Commission, Rockingham County, the Gaming Regulatory Fund and the Department of Health and Human Services; so they can support addiction programs in the towns and cities that are under the revenue sharing agreement.

On 24 March , 2016, the bill was killed off by a close vote of 13-11. D'Allesandro proposed this bill to boost the economy in the state of New Hampshire; the state loses much of its skilled workforce to the neighboring state of Massachusetts. The development of the casino would have created new jobs and boosted the economy. The casino, which was proposed to house 3,500 lottery video machines and 160 table games would have generated $100 million in annual revenue for the state.

“Establishing a casino in New Hampshire, preferably at Rockingham Park, would create numerous jobs and provide the state with $100 million in annual revenue,” said Senator D'Allesandro.

“Everyone in the state of New Hampshire will share in the profits of this legislation,” D'Allesandro told fellow senators. “We are a destination location.”

The Rock is also done

Before voting to kill the bill, the Senate also defeated an amendment, 12-11, that would have no longer required the casino be established at The Rock. The amendment, proposed to increase the bill's chances of passage, called for the establishment of a competitive licensing process for video lottery and table games.

The Senate vote was announced just as the President and General Manager of Rockingham Park, Edward Callahan, announced that the 109-year-old former racetrack has been put up for sale. Closure of this historic horse track would not only result in the loss of a historic landmark for the state but also a loss of 200 jobs for the residents.

Callahan said, “I would expect in the next 18 months to two years, the entire property would be redeveloped.”

D'Allesandro also added that “It would shameful to allow Rockingham Park to close. We have had gambling at that site for over 100 years, I can remember when 25,000 people a day would come to Rockingham Park.”

Rockingham Park, the 1-mile horse race track in Salem, New Hampshire was built in 1906. The venue has long been used by many for gambling over the weekends. Many historic races have been held at the venue, however, the last live racing was held at the track in 2010 and the park only hosts simulcasting now.

In 1991, the Mall at Rockingham Park, was constructed adjacent to the racetrack by Simon Property Group and last year, 50 acres of the 170-acre site were sold to Tuscan Kitchen owner, Joseph Faro, who is seeking town Planning Board approval to construct a 360,000-square-foot hotel, restaurant, retail and residential complex.

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