EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

February 3, 2013

Morse reveals expanded gaming plan

(Continued)

Hassan also has said she would want an open bid process because of interest among many communities to host a casino.

“We have to have a very open and transparent process,” Hassan said in an interview last year.

Morse’s proposal will provide for a bid process.

Gaming observers have long conceded Rockingham Park would have the inside track in a licensing bid process because Las Vegas-based Millenium Gaming Inc. already has an option to buy the former racetrack.

Millenium has estimated a casino project would create 2,000 construction jobs and 2,500 gaming industry jobs.

“Obviously, Rockingham is the place,” said former Sen. Bob Letourneau of Derry.

Letourneau has long opposed expanded gaming, but acknowledges The Rock is what makes sense.

“They have the parking, the acreage, they are right there on the highway and in the center of the population,” he said Friday.

The Morse bill, by committing to a single casino license, would make Hassan happy. But it would risk alienating North Country lawmakers, who have in past years have pushed for gaming at grand hotels.

By targeting state aid for North Country development, Morse could keep lawmakers from that region open to limiting expanded gaming to Southern New Hampshire.

Letourneau said the North Country could use help, such as development of technology infrastructure, so the proposal makes sense.

“The reason, always, is getting votes,” he said of the Morse plan.

The North Country is also the wrong place for a casino if lawmakers want gaming revenues, in Letourneau’s opinion.

“The North Country would only appeal to people staying in those hotels,” he said.

In the past, North Country lawmakers have said casino gaming would attract Canadians. But Letourneau said Canada has its own casinos, so people would be less likely to come to the North Country as a destination for gaming.

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