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Salem disappointed at House's latest casino vote

SALEM — Wednesday’s House vote was described as a blow by casino supporters in Salem and southern New Hampshire.

“I’m very disappointed in the House failure to reconsider Senate Bill 366,” said state Rep. Joseph Sweeney, R-Salem.

He added: “I would have preferred the members of the House to represent the people of their district and New Hampshire. The people need to make sure their voices are heard in September and November.”

Although there is no guarantee that Salem’s Rockingham Park would get a casino gambling license if it were legal in the state, Las Vegas-based Millennium Gaming, Inc. has a plan for a $600-million-plus casino development at Rockingham Park that would include a hotel and entertainment venues. The company has estimated that the development would create as many as 3,000 construction and gaming jobs.

Millennium has an option to buy the track, and the company has stated that it would bid for a casino license if the Legislature ever makes that a reality.

In a nonbinding referendum last year, 81 percent of Salem voters indicated that they would support a casino at Rockingham Park.

In neighboring Windham, Selectman Bruce Breton has been a supporter of bringing casinos to New Hampshire.

“Now we’re hoping that they will bring the bill back next year,” said Breton. “This is something that will create thousands and thousands of jobs for southern New Hampshire.”

Because the most recent bill would have allowed for two casino licenses, Breton said it would have provided potential economic opportunities for the North Country as well as the southern part of the state.

Over the next year, Breton said casino gambling proponents should continue to educate the public about the financial benefits it could bring, from more jobs to more revenue for municipal and state projects.

aswift@newstote.com


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