EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

May 24, 2013

Future uncertain for The Rock

Death of casino bill disappoints many in Salem

(Continued)

“I just think away and beyond gaming — whether it’s residential, industrial or commercial — anything could be an option,” he said.

Opening casinos in Massachusetts will stymie any competitive edge New Hampshire could have gained by adopting expanded gambling, he said.

It’s in the Legislature’s hands, Callahan said. Lawmakers will be forced to raise and create new taxes to fund the state’s needs, he said.

“The state just took a major step forward toward an income tax,” Callahan said. “Property taxes will rise.”

Callahan and Killion said even if expanded gambling is eventually approved, a slimmed-down plan — such as a slots parlor— would not be a viable option at The Rock.

“If all you are going to do is just put in a bunch of slot machines, I don’t see that as being a great benefit to the town or the state,” Callahan said. “Personally, I don’t think that’s what people would be looking for.”

Killion agreed.

“That’s not even a consideration,” he said.

To compete with casinos in Massachusetts and Connecticut, New Hampshire has to provide something that’s similar, if not better, Callahan and Killion said.

“Rockingham Park and Salem are still the best location in New England for a casino,” Killion said. “We think that is the best fit and that remains.”

Callahan said the charitable gaming that still takes place at the park will suffer as people flock to more luxurious facilities south of the border.

Last year, $2 million in charitable gaming was generated at The Rock, he said.

“Down the road, it could be half that,” he said.

Callahan said developers have presented him with numerous business proposals over the years.

Probably the most unique was a plan for an indoor ski area — 38 stories high — presented four years ago, Callahan said. That project is now being built in New Jersey, he said.

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