New Hampshire Senator Ready to Quit After 20th Failed Casino Bill

Posted on: March 26, 2018, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: March 27, 2018, 07:12h.

God loves a trier, they say, but after two decades of trying to legalize casino gaming in New Hampshire, even the dogged Senator Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester) believes it might be time to call it a day.

New Hampshire State Senator Lou D’Allesandro
There’s always next year, Lou. Although maybe there isn’t. State Senator Lou D’Allesandro has vowed 2018’s failed New Hampshire casino bill is his last one ever. (Image: NHPR)

D’Allesandro’s 20th consecutive casino bill was defeated in the Senate by an 11 to 10 vote last week. This has become something of an annual tradition in New Hampshire, like Rochester Fair, although less fun.

Incidentally, repeating that joke on the failure of each New Hampshire casino bill has become something of an annual tradition at – although, unbeknown to us, Rochester Fair was actually cancelled last year, ending a 142-year tradition, so the joke’s on us.

D’Allesandro, as he has for the past 20 years, urged his colleagues in the Senate to make it happen this year, but he also vowed it would be their last chance. Like Rochester Fair, he is no sure bet to resurface in 2019.

The Time It Got Close

It’s not as though D’Allesandro has never smelled the sweet scent of glory in his nostrils. In 2014, he came as close as possible to legalizing casino gaming without actually doing it. Having passed in the Senate, that year’s bill was finished off in the House by just one, final vote, cast by Deputy Speaker Naida Kaen.

Kaen’s vote tied the scores at 172-172, which meant the legislation did not pass.

D’Allesandro is still smarting from the experience and noted ruefully that, since he came up with plausible casino legislation all those years ago, surrounding stares have all pinched his ideas and are now reaping the benefits.

Since we made that suggestion those many years ago, Massachusetts has accepted it, Maine has accepted it, Connecticut has accepted it, and Rhode Island,” he said.  “The only people that didn’t listen to me were Vermont, and we’re no Vermont,” he added haughtily.

Billion Dollar Failure?

D’Allesandro said he believed the state could collect between $100 million and $150 million each year from casino taxes and that it has missed out on around $1 billion in revenues for failing to act over the past 20 years.

His biggest supporter during the Senate debate, Senator Harold French (R-Franklin), said the state had a problem in that, for 20 years, despite having the opportunity to pass a “great bill,” he had been visiting Foxwoods in Connecticut to lose his money.

“We really do have an opportunity here to pass this,” he said. “I believe that the good senator is not bluffing when he’s holding his cards and saying this will be the last time he will put it in,” although his insistence on peppering his speech liberally with corny gambling metaphors suggests even he wasn’t taking the proceedings entirely seriously.