Hampton Beach Casino Expansion Hits Roadblock in House Vote

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In an unexpected turn of events last week, legislation that was to usher in an expansion for New Hampshire’s illustrious Hampton Beach Casino met with disappointment in the state legislature. The bill, HB1215, encountered defeat in the House of Representatives after a remarkably decisive vote of 261-102 on Thursday, notwithstanding prior approval received in the Senate through a voice vote.

The failed proposal, in essence an amendment to a separate development legislation, was intended to offer the Hampton Board of Selectmen the power to close a local street. The closure was expected to be the catalyst for a massive expansion of Hampton’s age-old waterfront complex, well-known for its architecture and ambience – a noteworthy premise for the bill.

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Standing at the helm of this project was Sal Lupoli, the majority owner of the Hampton Beach casino property and the President and CEO of Lupoli Companies. Lupoli had ambitious plans for the 125-year-old gaming property, including the addition of a convention centre, a 500-room hotel and a parking garage. A boost to the Casino’s concert ballroom was also part of this grand design. It was projected that the enthroned concert venue, which currently hosts 2,200 spectators, would be revamped to accommodate 3,500 enthusiasts.

The acquisition of the neighboring Mainsail Motel and Cottages for $7.35M, by Lupoli glimmered a promising sign for the project last year. But the defeat of the legislation was undoubtedly a significant setback to the approximately $600M venture expected to reshape and enhance the Hampton Beach landscape.

Resolute supporters of the ambitious plan touted an enormous economic boost with the project underway. State Rep. Joe Alexander, R-Goffstown, expressed his belief that the revitalization of the Hampton Beach boardwalk area would transform into millions of dollars of economic growth in the region.

State Rep. Kelley Potenza, R-Rochester underscored her support by saying, “It would be wonderful to have a new venue because the property has become pretty rundown.” According to supporters, the redevelopment would establish Hampton Beach Casino as a bustling year-round attraction.

However, flints of concerns were sparked along the way. State Rep. Jim Maggiore, D-North Hampton, expressed strong misgivings about the bill being added as an amendment to another bill. He pointed out the approved voice vote, adding that passing the legislation would have resulted in unnecessary doubling of exemptions.

Even if the bill had navigated its way through the legislature, it would still need backing from local boards, including the Hampton Planning Board, the Hampton Beach Village District, and the Hampton Beach Area Commission.

Without the state endorsing the legislation, the path to invoking D Street’s closure likely lies through a local vote. The soonest this can happen is during the March 2025 Hampton annual town meeting – pushing back the potential development of the plan. If the plan is eventually approved, the construction work itself is projected to span about three years. Thus, this legislative decision has sent shockwaves into the timeline of the eagerly anticipated casino expansion project, leaving the future of Hampton Beach Casino hanging in the balance with anticipation.