An effort by Epsom Republican Rep. Dan McGuire to repeal a committee recommendation to nix what could potentially be, in terms of revenue possibilities and according to McGuire, the “largest gambling bill,” ever proposed in New Hampshire.
Not just a few casinos in the state would be allowed to host upwards of six video lottery machines; HB630 would allow them in hundreds of bars and restaurants throughout New Hampshire, McGuire said in an interview with the Concord Monitor.
As long as machines and games such as poker, slots and blackjack are in separate areas from family spaces and off limits to children, businesses possessing a liquor license would be permitted to host the machines under the proposed bill. One-third of the revenue from the machines would go to the host, while the state’s property taxes would receive the remainder for an approximate 5 percent reduction. McGuire said that typically the state collects 35 percent of net gambling revenue from casinos, which means at 67 percent, smaller wages can generate more revenue.
New Hampshire businesses possess 1,800 liquor licenses, of those McGuire expects that a minimum of 1,000 will apply to host video lottery machines. That translates to more than $200 million in yearly net revenue for the state as determined by an analysis conducted by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. McGuire told the news outlet that “Overall, if anything I think the numbers could be underestimates.” He also said that unlike other casino bill proposals that would have an out-of-state mogul chosen by the state come in and profit from New Hampshire, HB 630 empowers local business and helps to keep the revenue in the state. Currently, only charitable, pari-mutuel and lottery gambling are legal in New Hampshire.
However, after the bill was voted impractical by a majority of the Ways and Means Committee it faces a substantial challenge. In a separate interview with the Concord Monitor, Committee Vice Chairman Pat Abrami said that some of those opposed felt that the measure would not bode well for the possibility of a “real casino” in the small New England state. Others were of the opinion that only slot machines would result from HB630. Then, according to Abrami, his camp, which has “a tough time envisioning restaurants with a back room” for gambling only. He added, “It just doesn’t seem like New Hampshire to us.”
Nevertheless, Abrami admitted that he thinks the committee’s recommendation could possibly be overturned by the full House, and because of that has spent a substantial amount of time fleshing out the bill. The bill is scheduled to come up for vote on the House floor on Thursday.