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New Hampshire Considering New Restrictions for Casinos

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In the wake of the Concord Casino scandal in New Hampshire, changes are coming to how casinos interact with charities. In a significant move for charitable organizations in the state, the House passed Senate Bill 112 on Thursday, putting an end to the longstanding practice of casinos charging rent to charities they partner with.

New Hampshire Charities Get a Boost

The bill aims to alleviate the financial burden on charities, which were often surrendering a substantial portion of their winnings to cover rent expenses. Under the current state law, casinos are obligated to collaborate with charities, particularly for poker and other table games. A stipulation mandates that 35% of the gaming proceeds go to a charity, with the state receiving 10% and the remaining 55% retained by the casinos.

This collaboration has been in place since the inception of charitable gaming in 2006. However, when it was discovered that Andy Sanborn and his Concord Casino were allegedly keeping more of the share, state lawmakers decided that changes were in order.

The bill comes as a relief to charities, which, in some locations, were facing rent payments as high as $500 to $750 per night, amounting to nearly half of their winnings. The passing of Senate Bill 112 marks a positive step forward for charitable organizations in the state.

According to data from the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, charities generated almost $2.8 million in November through various gaming activities before deducting rent expenses. In the same period, casinos accumulated nearly $11 million, while the state received $2.2 million from the proceeds.

Notably, the Gate City Casino in Nashua emerged as the leader in table game revenue, raking in approximately $1.1 million during the specified period. Meanwhile, The Brook in Seabrook claimed the top spot in historic horse racing revenue, with a staggering $3.5 million.

Garnering Support from Charities

Rick Newman, a lobbyist for the NH Charitable Gaming Operators Association, voiced support for the bill on behalf of casino owners. He highlighted that the initial introduction of a $2 maximum bet in 2006 necessitated the imposition of rent charges to make casinos financially viable.

However, with the bet limit raised to $50 in July, casino owners can now operate profitably without imposing rent on charities. Notably, Aces and Eights in Hampton has already chosen not to charge rent, setting a precedent for others to follow suit. Newman revealed that discussions among casino owners about forgoing rent payments have been gaining traction since the bet limit increase.

In addition to prohibiting casino rent charges, the bill also extended the moratorium on new historic horse racing licenses. The measure maintains the current number of approximately 15 historic horse racing sites, with the potential for an additional five individuals or organizations pending license reviews.

The decision aims to regulate and control the growth of historic horse racing establishments in the state. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration, following amendments made in the House.

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