by Lynne Snierson
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.
House Bill 1633 calls for one high-end, highly regulated destination resort and casino to be developed in the southern tier of the state near the Massachusetts border. The measure, supported by Gov. Maggie Hassan, would allow up to 5,000 slot machines and 150 table games and establish a gaming commission to regulate the casino, state lottery, charitable gaming, and racing, although there is no longer any live horse racing in the state and greyhound racing is outlawed.
Should expanded gambling be legalized, Millennium Gaming of Las Vegas is perceived to be the odds-on favorite to win the bid for the large casino and site to be developed at Rockingham Park. The track, which opened its doors in 1906, last held a Thoroughbred meet in 2002 and a harness meet in 2009.
Millennium officials have repeatedly stated that the return of live racing is part of the revitalization of the racetrack property but that it is premature to commit before the bill passes and the company wins the competitive bid for the license.
"This bill is an improvement over any other bill that has been presented in the past," said Rockingham Park president and general manager Ed Callahan. "Hopefully, the majority of House members will see it that way when they vote."