EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 16, 2014

Rockingham Park future in doubt with N.H. House casino vote

House defeats two bills, Senate remains


Selectmen have formally supported having a casino at the park. So have more than 80 percent of Salem voters through a nonbinding referendum.

Las Vegas-based Millennium Gaming Inc. has a plan for a $600-million-plus casino development that would include a hotel and entertainment venue.

The company has estimated it could create a combined 3,000 construction and gaming jobs.

Millennium has an option to buy the track and co-CEO Bill Wortman personally has a 20 percent ownership stake in The Rock.

The company has said it will bid for a casino license if the Legislature authorizes one.

“They’ve invested a lot of money. Right now, nothing’s happening. They’ve got to satisfy stock holders,” D’Allesandro said. “You’ve got to make good business decisions.”

Millennium’s man in New Hampshire, Rich Killion, said the company remains committed to the opportunity.

“We’re focused on now,” Killion said.

Competition from Massachusetts, which could bring casinos on line by 2016, is a looming concern.

Rockingham Park hosts charity gaming, 37 groups that bring in $2 million a year.

That is imperiled by those casinos in Massachusetts, officials agree.

“Charity gaming will disappear,” said Cammarata, who is actively involved with two of the charities, Salem Historic Society and Arlington Pond Protective Association.

“Without a doubt, charity gaming will be all done,” Rockingham Park president Ed Callahan said.

Gamblers will have a Massachusetts casino in the region as an alternative to The Rock.

“New Hampshire doing nothing is a death sentence for charity gaming,” Killion said.

Callahan envisions the competition will have a nicer facility than today’s Rock, with higher table stakes and free, complimentary drinks for gamblers.

He prefers not to dwell on having to compete in that environment and said Rockingham Park is still working with Millennium.

“We still hope gaming will have a chance to pass in New Hampshire,” Callahan said.

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