Concord, New Hampshire Begins Process to Restrict Casino Locations, Hours

Posted on: May 20, 2024, 11:34h. 

Last updated on: May 20, 2024, 01:05h.

Concord, NH officials have proposed an ordinance that would limit where casinos could be located in the city. Additional restrictions may also be approved.

Andy Sanborn
Andy Sanborn, pictured above. His two casinos in Concord, NH won’t be impacted by proposed city ordinances. Neither of his casinos are open. (Image: WMUR)

Last week, the city’s planning board backed the restrictions, as part of a first phase to limit locations of casino operations.

Local residents will be able to speak on the controversial topic during a public hearing on July 8. The City Council may also choose to weigh in on the issue.

But the city can’t ban casinos altogether.

We are a home-rule state, which means that municipalities are only permitted to do that which the legislation authorizes us to do,” Tim Thompson, Concord’s assistant director of community development, explained to the planning board last Wednesday, according to the Concord Monitor.

Under state law, New Hampshire permits charitable gaming in communities.

“We are pre-empted from prohibiting the use, but can regulate it,” Thompson told Planning Board members.

Possible Rules

Under the new proposal, gaming operations would be allowed in areas of Concord where they would be considered accessory uses.

There wouldn’t be full-time, standalone casinos under the proposal, according to the Monitor. They could operate no more than four times a year, the Monitor further reported.

The gaming could be affiliated, for instance, with houses of worship or nonprofits where fundraising events typically take place. These include games like bingo.

Charitable gaming facilities in Concord are considered “commercial indoor recreation facilities” under zoning rules and are permitted in much of the city under existing ordinances.

“Those are permitted in a variety of different zoning districts that are not necessarily conducive to this kind of activity taking place,” Thompson told the board.

Sanborn Not Impacted

The new proposals wouldn’t impact either of the two charitable casinos linked to embattled casino owner Andy Sanborn. One of these, the Concord Casino, was located inside The Draft Sports Bar and Grill, and is currently closed.

Sanborn was ordered to sell the gaming property, whose license is suspended, or face having the license revoked completely.

Sanborn was found unsuitable to hold a charitable casino license after a state hearing which examined his application for COVID relief funds. He was given $844K in federal pandemic funds after an improper application and misuse of funds, officials said.

Sanborn is accused of using $181K of that money on two Porsche race cars, and $80K on a Ferrari for his wife, state Rep. Laurie Sanborn (R), officials added. He also allegedly used more than $183K on rent.

In January, Sanborn was to start looking for a buyer to take over the business. There was reportedly little progress in the sale as of earlier this year. The transaction must be arranged before July 1, according to a ruling from New Hampshire officials.

Sanborn’s second proposed casino, also in Concord, has yet to open.