Controversial New Hampshire Charitable Casino Project Given Go-Ahead

Posted on: June 23, 2023, 11:16h. 

Last updated on: June 23, 2023, 11:57h.

A new charitable casino was given approval this week by a local planning board in New Hampshire after a lengthy review. It is to be on the east side of Concord, the state’s capital.

Andy Sanborn
Andy Sanborn, pictured above. The former New Hampshire state senator is the comanaging partner on a recently approved casino development in Concord. (Image: Sanborn campaign)

The complex will be built in phases. The first phase will include a 26,000-square-foot gaming floor featuring 486 electronic games, 21 table games, and a poker room, according to the Concord Monitor newspaper.

It will also have space for dining and live music, as well as a brewpub.

It is really a place where people go out to be entertained for the night,” the project’s comanaging partner, Andy Sanborn, told the Monitor.

Under the second phase, developers will build a hotel, and maybe add more gaming space, open a conference/event center, and add space for live music.

The casino’s first phase was given conditional approval by the planning board in January.

The building will total about 44,000 square feet under current plans. As of now, the name of the gaming complex is identified as “Imagine Casino.”

Construction may not begin for about 18 months. Interior design plans have to be completed  before construction can commence, the Monitor reported.

As a charitable gaming operation, 35% of gross revenue from the casino will be sent to approved charities every 10 days.

Lengthy Review

The review of the plans by town officials extended past six months. One of the delays came after officials asked for an impact report to local emergency services. There was also a site plan review.

Earlier this year, worries were voiced over the small venue’s impact on the environment, increased traffic, and other negatives that come with a new gaming property and related businesses, the Monitor reported. Others claimed the casino could lead to prostitution and illegal drugs.

A local environmental group that advocates for limited growth, the Concord Greenspace Coalition, gave board members a petition opposing the casino. There were more than 150 signatures on the document.

Supporters Back Project

Supporters of the project pointed out that the casino will add more than 250 jobs and attract visitors to the city. They also note that charities will benefit from the gaming property.

“We are excited to go to the moon and back, that we were finally able to get that approval, and now we are able to move forward with the next steps to begin construction,” Sanborn recently told the Monitor.

This is giving us the opportunity to actually build something from scratch,” he added. “At the end of the day, this is all about charities helping people in our community.”

Sanborn is a former Republican state senator from Bedford. He is also the owner of Concord’s Draft Sports Bar & Grill. His wife, Laurie Sanborn, is his comanaging partner, and a currently serving state representative.

The Sanborns have operated the Concord Casino since 2018. It is also a charitable casino.

Concord is some 58 miles southeast of Lebanon, where another New Hampshire casino proposal is under review. A public hearing was held on that proposal last month.