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Some In N.H. Tourism Not Yet Sold On Benefits Of Casino

As Governor Maggie Hassan touts the benefits of a high-end casino for the state, some in the tourism industry have concerns about what it will do for New Hampshire’s image.

At the governor’s conference on tourism in Concord on Monday, Governor Hassan didn’t directly address what impact a casino would have on the industry.

But in an interview after her speech, she said a destination casino would ultimately benefit already existing tourism industries by bringing more people to the state.

"And they will be exposed to the rest of what New Hampshire has to offer, which is our great natural resources, our wonderful quality of life, our great tourism industry, and nothing can diminish that.”

Hassan also says she’s focused on making sure New Hampshire continues to be seen as a family-friendly state.

But there’s concern among some in the industry that a casino would jeopardize that image.

Earlier this month, the state’s lodging and restaurant association came out against the casino proposal. It cites concerns about lost revenue and a negative impact on the quality of life.

Gregg Pitman is the executive director of the New Hampshire Campground Owners Association, and he feels much the same.

“Would it attract people to come and camp in New Hampshire? No. I don’t think gambling is something that attracts people to camp," he said.

“Our concerns would be the image of New Hampshire. We want people from out of state to think New Hampshire’s a family friendly place to come. And if casino gambling is pushing a different image, and has more money to spend than we and the tourism industry have, what would the image be?" he added.

Governor Hassan had included $80 million in licensing fees from a single casino in her two-year budget proposal, but the House stripped that revenue from its version of the budget.

A joint House committee is examining a proposal for a casino passed by the Senate. 

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