Manchester mayor pushes for casino seat limit
MANCHESTER — Mayor Ted Gatsas said Wednesday he would oppose any gambling legislation if it did not limit the size of any casino-based theater to 1,500 seats. The provision would protect the Verizon Wireless Arena but not smaller downtown theaters, according to one theater director.
“This is not about gaming, in opposition or in favor. It’s about protection of the Verizon,” Gatsas said Wednesday.
“You put in an exact number and that makes the Verizon Center happy, but would it help all the other venues?” said state Rep. Katherine Rogers, D-Concord, a member of the Fair Deal Caucus, a group of pro-casino House members.
Owners of nonprofit theaters in Concord, Portsmouth and Keene have warned that a casino would be their demise and an end to the economic and cultural vitality they bring to their downtowns.
“This will harm restored, historical theaters and revitalized downtowns in New Hampshire. Everyone has a vital interest in downtown,” said Patricia Lynch, director of the Music Hall.
Gatsas and aldermen voted to support the limit after being contacted by the Verizon. In a letter, General Manager Tim Bechert pointed to the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
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