New Hampshire City Moves Forward on Casino, Sportsbook Proposals

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Rochester, New Hampshire’s City Council this week pushed ahead with a plan to place a sportsbook in the city. A possibly linked charitable casino also has been proposed for a local mall.

The Lilac Mall, pictured above. The Rochester, New Hampshire retail complex is the proposed site of a charitable casino. (Image: Rochester Voice)

On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved putting the sportsbook issue on a November 7 referendum. That way, residents can vote on whether to approve or reject the proposal.

A public hearing on the issue will be held on October 17.

In addition, a charitable casino is proposed for Rochester’s Lilac Mall, whatever the outcome of the referendum.

We would build our charitable gaming center regardless of the vote on allowing a sportsbook in the city,” Scott Tranchemontagne, a representative of the mall’s new owner, a holding company called GSG Rochester Propco LLC of Manchester, told New Hampshire’s Foster’s Daily Democrat news outlet.

The company purchased the mall on May 4 for $5M.

“Although we could be a potential location for a sportsbook if it passes, the November vote is not related to our proposal,” Tranchemontagne explained about the relationship between the sportsbook and the mall.

Casino Details

Under current plans, the casino would take up 22,000 square feet of space at the 200,000-square-foot mall. That includes space once held by a movie theater and part of a former Kmart.

Most of the current tenants in the mall plan to remain there despite the casino proposal. That includes a gymnastics studio, a dance studio, and two eateries.

The Lilac Mall casino proposal must get approval from Rochester’s Planning Board before it can proceed. Its developers are hopeful about the outcome and the proposal is expected to be discussed by the board on September 11.

“We look forward to immersing ourselves in the Rochester community and working with state and local leaders to build charitable gaming operations that we expect will raise millions of dollars annually for New Hampshire nonprofit organizations, including $3 million in Rochester,” New England Gaming and Consulting LLC Principal Greg Carlin was quoted by the Daily Democrat.

Carlin is also identified as CEO of an entity called “Granite State Gaming and Hospitality,” according to the Daily Democrat.

New England Gaming currently has one of 11 licenses available in New Hampshire for charitable casinos, according to Rochester Mayor Paul Callaghan.

Prior Attempt

This isn’t the first time Rochester officials put a casino/sportbook proposal to a townwide referendum.

In 2019, Rochester residents defeated a similar proposal in a close vote of 1,488 to 1,439.

A new ordinance puts restrictions on such gaming operations. The City Council approved the ordinance in June. It spells out where such a gaming operation can be located in the community and other details.

That includes a commercial zone near routes 11 and 125, or the Granite Ridge zone. If the project is located in The Ridge shopping plaza, a special permit would be needed.

Any gaming floor would need to be at least 20,000 square feet, and parking requirements include spaces for buses and at least 0.75 parking spaces per gaming position.

At least 2% of the parking spaces need to have electric vehicle charging stations, with a minimum of four required. There are also requirements for outdoor entertainment noise, architecture, and landscaping.

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