While Seabrook Park’s new owners believe there’s an opportunity for success with casino gaming in New Hampshire, the reality is much dimmer. (“Casino company places bet in New Hampshire.”) The opening of Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, a mere 30-minute drive from the Massachusetts – N.H. State Line is already leading to a demise in the gaming industry in N.H. and may be the beginning of the end of the industry, which employs many people. To start, many of the best and brightest working in N.H.’s charitable casinos and poker rooms left for the better opportunity and better pay of Encore. Customers are leaving, too. The N.H. Legislature is extremely weak and their pandering to special interests has led to a situation in which regulatory burden makes the gaming industry in N.H. noncompetitive. Customers are going to Encore because it’s a better offering, and the casinos and poker rooms in N.H. can’t offer anything close to it because of regulation.casino software
Poker, which I have played across N.H. and even internationally, is suffering due to the regulatory burden. In N.H., poker tournaments are forced to take 20% of buy-in money as a rake. The casinos then must give 10% of the rake to the State as a tax and 35% to charity. On top of that, they can’t run a tournament with buy-ins over $250, allow the total re-entries by a player to exceed $250, and must get every tournament structure approved by the State regulators. Meanwhile, other poker rooms can run tournaments with larger buy-ins that attract larger crowds because of big prize pools. N.H. also lacks any transparency laws to require public reporting of poker results, which causes serious players to lose out on ranking and recognition for their wins in N.H.
Casinos make money off table games like roulette or blackjack because they have an edge over the player. For example, in roulette there are 38 spots a ball can land in, the numbers 1-36, zero, and double-zero. When a person wins, the casino pays them 35-to-1. That means the casino has a 5.26% advantage. The more someone bets, the more they should theoretically lose due to the house’s edge. By having bets limited to $10 in N.H., while Encore is letting people bet as much as $5,000 or even more in their high-limit gaming area, N.H. forces the most profitable customers to the casino to leave the State. That means the charities in N.H. that rely on charitable gaming get less money.
The decline in customer numbers is already evident at the cash poker tables in N.H. poker rooms. Customer volume is down in some locations by more than 50% as the regular customers have moved their business to the very well-appointed poker room at Encore Boston Harbor. Those players also earn comps towards food and get beverages, alcoholic and soft, complimentary while playing at Encore. If the customers and the money continue to flow out of N.H., eventually some of the casinos will have to cut back on staffing or even close down.