WhiteSand Gaming has issued its final report to the New Hampshire Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority (“Authority”). Selected in a competitive process to serve as the Authority’s gaming consultant in September 2013, WhiteSand worked with Authority members, lead by Chair Representative Richard Ames [D-Jaffrey], to complete a comprehensive examination of New Hampshire’s existing gaming sectors, including charitable gaming, and to assess the feasibility of an expansion into commercial casino gaming.
Working with significant input from WhiteSand, the Authority has proposed two draft bills for consideration in the 2014 Legislative session: an Existing Gaming Bill proposing serious reforms in the charitable gaming sector and an Expanded Gaming Bill proposing one commercial casino with up to 5,000 slot machines and 150 table games. WhiteSand’s regulatory advisory services team – with its unique blend of regulatory and operational expertise and start up jurisdiction experience – is rarely coupled with the commitment to detail demonstrated by Chair Ames and the Authority. Together, they developed an Expanded Gaming Bill that ticks all the boxes – a secure regulatory environment where expectations are well defined, where operators are insulated from political influence and where an operator is free to maximize its return on investment within the limits of a reasonable regulatory scheme. “If the Legislature acts favorably on the Expanded Gaming Bill in the 2014 session” said Scheri, “I suspect more than a few operators who competed in Massachusetts will be more than eager to compete in New Hampshire.”
Authority members credit the analysis and report issued by WhiteSand with not only identifying the potential benefits and costs of expanded gaming but with starkly illustrating the broad scale of the state’s existing charitable gaming sector, its increasing dependence on for-profit gaming operators and the need for regulatory reform in this sector. Calling WhiteSand “indispensible” to the Authority’s efforts, Chair Ames in a recent op-ed in the New Hampshire Business Review said: “We worked hard to step back from emotional arguments, focused on facts and brought in experts as needed to develop a truly best practices regulatory system designed to meet New Hampshire’s unique needs.”
WhiteSand Director James Nickerson and Regulatory Advisory Practice Leader Maureen D. Williamson Esq. lead the WhiteSand effort. “Whether or not New Hampshire elects to expand into commercial casino gaming, its citizens and charitable organizations have been well served by the work of the Authority,” Williamson said. “The recommendations in the Existing Gaming Bill [introduced January 3, 2014] are predicated on a baseline acknowledgement of the need to sustain a fair, auditable and reliable stream of resources to charitable organizations, either through games of chance or an alternative source.”
The Expanded Gaming Bill was introduced January 28, 2014 and is scheduled for a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee on February 6, 2014. “Going into it, we knew that New Hampshire had potential” said Jim Nickerson “but it was not until we did a deep dive into the demographics, infrastructure, market analysis and financial projections that we realized what a strong contender for top tier investment New Hampshire could be with the right regulatory approach”.
The Authority’s final report, the Existing Gaming Bill and Expanded Gaming Bill proposed by the Authority, and WhiteSand’s report to the Authority are posted on the Authority’s website at www.nh.gov/groa/index.htm.