Restaurant owners see no upside to NH casinos
DERRY — Local restaurant owners don’t want casino gambling in New Hampshire, fearing it will draw diners away from their businesses.
Legislators in Concord are again considering casino gambling on the heels of Massachusetts and Maine getting into the casino business.
Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, has championed the latest bill, and said a casino would generate $100 million in state revenue annually.
The bill, SB 242, which would allow for two casinos with gaming tables and slot machines, cleared the Senate with a bipartisan vote, 13-10, in March, but it’s uncertain how the House would vote.
Restaurant owners and town officials said that the casinos would hurt local business.
Derry Councilor-at-Large James Morgan strongly opposed the bill because local restaurants would lose their customer base to the casinos, he said.
The casinos would offer food and entertainment that would be in direct competition with restaurants and music halls in Rockingham County, Morgan said.
“This new casino bill is anywhere in the state. It becomes problematic because these restaurateurs, local people, they’re concerned about that because casinos become a big draw and the food is reduced price,” said Morgan.
Bill Greiner, a shareholder of the local T-Bones restaurant chain, said the economic benefits of a casino are overrated.
“You trade one set of jobs for another, the difference is the profit goes to the headquarters instead of going to the local communities,” said Greiner.
At one T-Bones location, Greiner said more than 5,000 customers a week get served.
“The concern is that casinos in New Hampshire are going to have a pretty negative impact on restaurants. People only have so much disposable income,” said Greiner.
Tom Boucher, owner and CEO of Great New Hampshire Restaurants, which operates eight restaurants in southern New Hampshire including T-Bones, Cactus Jack’s and the Copper Door, said with 2 million customers a year, the Great New Hampshire Restaurants pays more than $5 million in state taxes.