The New Hampshire House of Representatives soundly rejected the expansion of gambling on March 28 by a wide margin even though both supporters and opponents predicted that the vote would be razor thin.
HB 593 called for the construction of four casinos, two small and two large, with a total of 14,000 slot machines and 420 table games. Rockingham Park was the odds-on choice to be awarded one of the large facilities and Millennium Gaming, which holds the option to purchase the 106-year-old property had the legislation passed, said that the return of live Thoroughbred racing would be part of the track's revitalization.
The Senate had drafted its version of expanded gambling legislation but was waiting to see what action the House would take before acting. The House vote rendered the issue moot.
"We are disappointed with the House outcome, that some continue to block what a significant majority of New Hampshire citizens support: which is thousands of well paying jobs and hundreds of millions of non-taxpayer revenue brought by permitting casino gaming, "said Millennium spokesperson Rich Killion. ""We believe a revitalized Rockingham Park would be a tremendous asset to New Hampshire. Given that and the potential of the significant jobs, economic development and revenue, we will continue to work to make a revitalized Rock a reality."
Even if there had been enough support to get the bill through the House and Senate this session, there were not enough backers for the two-thirds majority needed to override the promised veto by Governor John Lynch (D). The governor is retiring when his term expires in January.--By Lynn Snierson