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May 5, 2013

Millennium ups the ante with hotel, entertainment

Millennium adds hotel, entertainment venue to casino plan

SALEM — Las Vegas-based Millennium Gaming Inc. this week will unveil an expanded Rockingham Park redevelopment plan, including a 300-room hotel and an entertainment venue seating up to 1,500 people.

Millennium co-CEO Bill Wortman, who is traveling to New Hampshire for the presentation, hesitated to put a price tag on the revised plans, but said it would exceed the $450 million the company discussed previously and more closely resemble those estimated for proposed casinos in Massachusetts.

“It will be quite a bit in excess of $600 million,” Wortman said.

He also believes the new plan will mean more jobs, both for construction and operation of the gaming complex, which would include a casino and a return of live horse racing.

Horses first started running at The Rock in 1906. A grandstand fire in 1980 halted racing for four years. Racing stopped in 2009. Simulcast racing continues and would under Millennium’s proposal.

Millennium previously projected 2,000 construction jobs and 1,300 permanent jobs.

“I think the number of employees will go up,” Wortman said.

He is expected to present the plans Wednesday night at Rockingham Park.

The revised plans recognize both the suggestions of New Hampshire residents who want to see The Rock redeveloped as a casino and the changing marketplace, with Massachusetts moving forward with casinos, he said.

“We will release a new look to Rockingham Park, a larger destination resort,” Wortman said.

The old $450 million plan was designed around a slot machine venue — before Massachusetts decided to authorize casinos, he said.

“We needed to develop New Hampshire’s version of a very competitive product,” he said.

Wortman repeatedly stressed the new design would make the casino a regional destination casino.

“We think Rockingham Park and Salem, N.H., is the best gaming location in New England,” he said.

Price tags on the proposed casinos in Massachusetts have ranged from $700 million to $1.2 billion, but Wortman said some of those reflect higher construction costs, infrastructure needs or environmental issues that Rockingham Park won’t face.

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