New Hampshire is not the most gambling-friendly state in the US, with a recent history of anti-gambling laws and failed pro-gambling bills.
Now the state will see if its residents will be flocking to the new Encore Boston Harbor casino resort, less than an hour from the New Hampshire/Massachusetts border. Could success of the Encore persuade New Hampshire into considering casinos?
The brand new Encore Boston Harbor is a massive new complex from Wynn Resorts. Opening at the tail end of June, Encore hasn’t had a chance to put out any numbers yet but is expected to generate $135 million in tax revenue for Massachusetts.
According to a press release by Wynn, it’s the “largest private single-phase construction project in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” The $2.6 billion casino resort boasts 671 guest rooms, over 3,000 slots, 144 table games, and 88 poker tables.
In comparison, New Hampshire has 10 establishments for gambling, but none are allowed slot machines. There have been moves in New Hampshire to try to legalize sports betting, but there hasn’t been any successful bills yet.
The 10 established casinos were allowed to open in 2016, so they’re only a couple of years old. There has been some bills to try to expand gambling since the introduction of casinos in the state, but all have died in the state legislature so far.
Some proponents of gambling are now saying New Hampshire will regret not seizing gambling before other surrounding states. State Senator Lou D’Allesandro, speaking with The New Hampshire Union Leader, said:
"While New Hampshire slept, the others were awake. We’ll see what happens now. They’re going to drive down Route 93 and see it. Encore Boston Harbor wasn’t there yesterday."
Opponents of gambling state that Boston can support such a massive casino, while New Hampshire doesn’t have the population to support one. With the opening of Encore, it’ll be a prime opportunity to see if New Hampshire citizens drive south to take advantage of the new casino. Farther up the East Coast, neighboring Maine has the same possible concerns over Boston's new casino.
Any success of Encore to draw in the New Hampshire market would likely mean a more successful push to expand gambling in New Hampshire to regain the lost market and begin collecting higher tax revenue.
The opening of Encore Boston Harbor has been in the back of several minds in the New Hampshire legislature, as there were several bills for various gambling games to be legalized.
Sports betting has been the hottest ticket in gambling in the U.S., and New Hampshire has been poised on the edge of the diving board for almost a month. Bills to legalize sports betting were passed by the New Hampshire legislative houses, but there’s been no news since mid-June.
At the time of passing, it seemed like the bills would be signed fairly quickly, as both houses of the New Hampshire legislature and the governor were in favor of sports betting. Should the bill pass, New Hampshire would also see gambling as a whole, and sports betting in particular, expand.