The city of Nashua in New Hampshire seems on track to see a casino take over a vacant space that was once a department store. City officials have cleared the way for an existing gaming enterprise to relocate its operations.
While a timeline for that relocation remains unclear, the new location could boost the fortunes of not only the casino but the immediate area as well. There is a unique twist to the location, however.
Nashua Planning Board approves casino development at former Sears
On Thursday night, a short delay to city approval for a plan to turn the former Sears store in the Pheasant Lane Mall ended. EC NH Real Estate Holdings, Inc., received approval by a 4-1 vote of the Nashua Planning Board and has come close to setting the wheels in motion.
EC NH made its formal presentation to the board in August. The company plans to install 1,200 historical horse racing gaming terminals and 62 gaming tables in the venue. The former department store, which EC NH plans to call “The Mint” when the conversion to a casino occurs, will require extensive internal renovation before opening.
However, the now-approved plans do not call for any exterior renovation. For that reason, the new casino in New Hampshire in the second most-populated city could be ready sometime in 2024, provided everything goes smoothly.
Currently, EC NH has not specified when it plans to begin renovations. The company needs to finalize additional details as it moves forward.
Emergency, traffic plans are still pending for The Mint
According to a post by Ross Ketschke of WMUR, EC NH still needs to finalize an emergency plan with local law enforcement and work on traffic improvements around the mall. The casino’s impact on local traffic has been among the concerns that Nashua residents have expressed.
That emergency plan has an intriguing element. The Pheasant Lane Mall buttresses the Massachusetts border with part of the parking lot lying in Massachusetts. For that reason, the casino has to coordinate such a plan with multiple jurisdictions.
That shouldn’t be an insurmountable task, however. The reason why the property was attractive to EC NH despite that wrinkle has everything to do with revenue. The developer currently operates the Lucky Moose and The River casinos in Nashua but plans to transfer its license to The Mint.
The traffic, both in auto and foot terms, offers greater potential revenue. Furthermore, the 169,000 square feet of the new venue create a potential for greater revenue as well. In addition, New Hampshire increased bet limits at such casinos.
How The Mint performs could impact another aspect of gambling in New Hampshire going forward.
Online gambling expansion depends on New Hampshire casino support
Earlier this year, the New Hampshire legislature considered a measure that would have legalized online table games in the state. Part of the reason why the bill failed was concern from land-based casino operators that such gaming would hurt their businesses.
If The Mint sees a significant upturn in revenue compared to what EC NH was collecting at its two existing locations, that might make EC NH even more resistant to real-money online casino legalization. At the same time, the proposal as it was written might have a minimal impact on charitable casinos in New Hampshire.
Without slots, the online casino product would be a mere shell of its potential. Just as with physical casinos, slot play represents the vast majority of revenue for online casinos in the United States, too.
Starting with table games and allowing brick-and-mortar casino operators to see that their businesses can co-exist with online counterparts might be a step toward a robust online casino product in New Hampshire further down the road. For certain, The Mint is a giant step closer to reality.