Nashua, New Hampshire Board Approves Casino for Empty Store at Mall

Posted on: September 12, 2023, 12:10h. 

Last updated on: September 12, 2023, 07:45h.

A plan to transform the former Sears store in Nashua, New Hampshire, into a charitable casino is moving forward. The Nashua Planning Board recently voted by a 4-to-1 margin to okay the project.

Pheasant Lane Mall entrance
Pheasant Lane Mall entrance, pictured above. Last week, local officials approved placing a casino in a vacant store at the mall. (Image: Simon Property Group)

Under the plan, licenses from two Nashua casinos, The Lucky Moose Casino & Tavern and The River Casino & Sports Bar, will be transferred to the mall’s new casino.

The two-story gaming property will measure 169,000 square feet. It will include more than 1,000 historic horse race (HHR) machines and dozens of table games.

ECL Entertainment and Clairvest are the developers behind the casino. ECL owns and operates HHR venues in Kentucky, including the Mint Casino at Kentucky Downs, according to the New Hampshire Business Review. Clairvest is a Toronto-based private equity firm.

The ex-Sears store is located at the southeastern corner of Pheasant Lane Mall, situated on the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border. The store has been vacant since 2020.

The project was originally supposed to be completed by the end of the year.

The Simon Property Group owns the mall.

Opposition to Casino

While being reviewed by the planning board, residents voiced concerns about how police will handle emergencies at the casino. One issue is that the entire parking area is in Tyngsborough, Mass., rather than New Hampshire.

Others thought the presence of a casino would clash with other mall tenants.

It seems to me that an adult entertainment center [placed] into one of the five big box stores, the vacant Sears store, is way out of character with the master plan, and I think it’s way out of character with the mall, which [is] a family-friendly shopping center,” Bill Ohm, a local resident, was quoted by Manchester, N.H. TV station WMUR.

But others support the casino.

“I think having a casino in the mall is outside-the-box thinking. But I believe, in the end, it will be a shot in the arm to the Daniel Webster Highway and the retail, restaurants, and what have you, down there,” said Stefan Hausberger, a local business owner, to WMUR.

Other Local Gaming

Last October, Delaware North, a hospitality and entertainment company that owns Boston’s TD Garden and the Boston Bruins, acquired the Boston Billiard Club & Casino in Nashua. The Nashua operation was recently renamed the Gate City Casino. It has added a retail DraftKings sportsbook.

Eventually, the Gate City Casino will relocate to the Sheraton Nashua Hotel near the mall.