A bill that would allow two casinos in New Hampshire was met with opposition earlier this week, but Republican Representatives remain hopeful a casino could be coming to Seabrook. For now however, the bill is faces opposition in the form of the Ways and Means committee, who recently cast a 19-1 vote against it.
State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D- Manchester has sponsored the bill and is known as a longtime casino advocate. His proposal allows anyone to bid on two available licenses, meaning the former greyhound racetrack and Seabrook Park could potentially become home to a new casino. SB 242 is unlike any other casino bill that has been proposed in that it doesn’t pinpoint a specific location for the legalization of casinos.
The reasoning behind the bill should come as no surprise; the state is turning to gambling as a revenue generator in an attempt to boost the economy. The legalization could create anywhere from 500 to 1,000 new jobs. Naturally, the construction of these facilities would also create temporary construction jobs. D’Allesandro estimates that the 35 percent tax on gaming could generate $150 million.
Despite the negative response from the Ways and Means committee, the bill passed the Senate with a 13-10 vote and has been openly supported by a number of other Senator’s. Seabrook’s state senator, Dan Innis, admits he voted for the bill with confidence. Innis found it the proposed bidding process helped insure that there wasn’t a set up for a single company to come in an monopolize gaming in the state.
Seabrook lawmakers have also openly supported the bill. Republican Representatives Rio Tilton and Aboul Khan would be thrilled to see a casino come to Seabrook. “I’m in favor of this, especially if it came to Seabrook. It would be a great way to help the economy. When the greyhound park was racing, a lot of Seabrook residents had jobs there,” Tilton said in an interview with Newbury Port News. The Seabrook Board of Selectmen also voted to have casino back in 2014.
When asked about their reasons for rejecting the bill, the Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Norman Major, said it was due to the fact that no one in the casino industry appeared to advocate for it. In hindsight Kahn says he would have appeared to help the lone casino representative, D’Allesandro. Major went on to say that the casino market in the northeast appears to be saturated, especially if you take into consideration the surrounding states.
No one can deny that if the bill were to pass, Seabrook would be the best place to host a casino. They have the gaming experience and the transition would be much simpler. The House will have its next session on May 4th, where the bill will be heard by the full membership.