A proposed small charitable casino in Concord, N.H., was given conditional approval this week by a local Planning Board. But anxious residents predict it could lead to increased levels of prostitution and illegal drugs, as well as impact the environment of New Hampshire’s capital city.
The Planning Board conditionally approved the project’s initial phase on Wednesday. That includes a 24,000-square-foot gaming room, and an 8,500-square-foot restaurant and brewpub.
One of nine residents speaking against the planned gaming venue was Mark Hounsell of Conway. He represented the Word of Life Christian Fellowship.
“Gambling affects cities and would serve as a magnet and draw a lot of people in,” Hounsell was quoted by the Concord Monitor, a local newspaper, about the project.
Community Problems Predicted
I don’t use words like ‘undesirable,’ but it does bring problems to the community like drug abuse, thievery, sex trafficking, prostitution, and it’s a business of robbing from the poor to pay for the habit.”
Another resident, Cathy Bernard, told board members she walks her dogs and hikes near the proposed casino.
“I’ve been in Concord for over 30 years, and this is an area where my kids did a lot of recreational things,” Bernard said.
“I’m not sure the demographics of the city and the capital of the state of New Hampshire needs two gambling facilities inside of it.”
But supporters point out that the casino will add more than 250 jobs and attract visitors to the city. Also, as a charitable gaming operation, 35% of gross revenue from the casino will be donated to approved charities every 10 days.
Andy Sanborn, a former state senator and owner of Draft Sports Bar & Grill and the Concord Casino, a charitable gaming venue already operating in Concord, wants to build the 43,000-square-foot casino, bar, and hotel.
The casino floor would have room to seat 634. The restaurant and brewpub would have seating for about 150.
The hotel and an event center are part of a planned second phase.
Norman Roberge, treasurer of the Concord Lions Club, argued the casino will lead to more charitable donations that can be distributed to the community.
But there are concerns about the type of jobs generated by the casino.
Fisto Ndayishimiye, a community organizer, was quoted by the Monitor that “the vast majority of those jobs are minimum wage and they’re not jobs that will lift people out of poverty.”
There were also concerns what may happen to Concord wetlands if the casino is built.
Plan Review Next Month
On February 15, an updated version of the proposal will be presented before the Planning Board. If final approval is granted, the casino will take about 18 months to build, WMUR, a local TV station, reported.
Concord is some 58 miles southeast of Lebanon, where another New Hampshire casino proposal is under review.
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