BackgroundThere are three bills being debated by lawmakers this session. The Senate bill, co-sponsored by Chuck Morse (R-Salem) and Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester) has the support of Governor Maggie Hassan. There are also two casino bills in the House, one sponsored by Edmond Gionet (R-Lincoln), the other sponsored by Steve Vallaincourt (R-Manchester).
The Senate bill proposes a single high-end resport-style casino located near the border with Massachusetts, taxed at 30 percent, and requiring an $80 million license fee up front. Governor Hassan’s budget banks on this casino generating $80 million in licensing fees.
In recent years, the Senate has voted in favor of expanded gambling. Meanwhile, the 400-member House has consistently rejected it — with both Republican and Democratic majorities. Opposition in the House will likely be the biggest challenge for casino advocates this session.
The House is likely to retain one of their bills, to use when they consider the Senate’s bill later this session.
Lincoln Representative Edmond Gionet’s bill allows for two casinos – one near the Massachusetts border, like the Senate bill, and another casino, in the White Mountains. Gionet says his proposal would bring just short of $300 million into the state. Vaillancourt’s bill provides for six casinos with a total of 5,000 slot machines. Each would be staffed, managed, and operated by the state. That bill estimates around $520 million in revenue, and would allow only for video slot machines, not high-stakes table gaming.