The New Hampshire House of Representatives said no dice to casino gambling again May 7, handing supporters their third defeat in two months and dashing hopes that live Thoroughbred racing might return to Rockingham Park.
A New Hampshire House of Representatives committee voted 11-9 March 4 to recommend an expanded gambling bill be killed, although the bill moves to the full House for a floor vote expected as early as next week.
The New Hampshire Senate handily passed an expanded gambling bill with bipartisan support March 14 that would authorize one single, high-end casino along the state's southern border with Massachusetts.
The election of Maggie Hassan as the new governor of New Hampshire Nov. 6 makes expanded casino gambling and the return of live racing to Rockingham Park a real possibility.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives delayed action Feb. 8 on a bill that would expand gambling and open the door for the return of live Thoroughbred racing.
The State of New Hampshire has repealed the onerous 10% tax on gambling winnings that drove bettors away from racetracks and caused a multi-million dollar drop in the Thoroughbred simulcast handle.
Horsemen held a brainstorming meeting Aug. 16 to discuss the ramifications of a plan by Rockingham Park to offer Thoroughbred races Sept. 5 in partnership with the New Hampshire Thoroughbred Breeding and Racing Association.
Rockingham Park plans to present both live Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing on the same card during Labor Day weekend Sept. 5.
Following nearly two days of testimony in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire in Concord, but before it came to a judge's ruling, Rockingham Park, the New England Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, and Suffolk Downs reached agreement Tuesday relative to the disbursement of simulcasting revenue.
Negotiations between the New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and Rockingham Park continued into the new year in the wake of a simulcasting dispute that has spilled over state borders.
Rockingham Park is switching from Thoroughbred to harness racing in 2003 after the track and horsemen could not reach an agreement concerning purse structure. The Salem, N.H. track will conduct a summer harness meet from May 24 through Sept. 1, with racing four nights per week. Harness racing has not been conducted at Rockingham since June 1980 when a fire destroyed the clubhouse and grandstand and closed the track for four years.
Racing will continue at Rockingham Park for at least two more years while the track works with a Massachusetts development company and the city of Salem on plans to develop the 170-acre property.
Following four hours of intense discussion early Sunday morning, Rockingham Park management and the New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association reached a two-year agreement on a contract.
The New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association was expected to withhold permission for Rockingham Park to send its live signal to other wagering facilities effective Wednesday. The move comes in response to an impasse in the group's negotiations with track management over simulcasting revenue splits.
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