In a momentous milestone, the city of Nashua, New Hampshire, has approved a nonprofit casino proposal. The Nashua Planning Board has approved the casino project at the former Sears store property by a 4-to-1 vote.
The licenses from two current Nashua casinos, The Lucky Moose Casino & Tavern and The River Casino & Sports Bar, will be relocated to the new facility as part of the project. The facility will span an incredible 169,000 square feet over two storeys and will include an impressive assortment of over 1,000 historic horse racing (HHR) machines and a broad range of table games.
The venture’s developers are ECL Entertainment and Clairvest. ECL Entertainment is renowned for operating multiple Kentucky HHR venues, while Clairvest is a private equity firm headquartered in Toronto. The chosen site, which has lain dormant for three years, occupies the southeastern corner of the Pheasant Lane Mall, a property under the ownership of the Simon Property Group.
Throughout the planning board’s evaluation process, local residents raised concerns regarding the handling of emergencies at the casino by law enforcement. One particular challenge identified was the casino’s parking area, located across the New Hampshire state line in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts.
Another issue of contention was the potential impact on existing businesses within the mall. Resident Bill Ohm expressed his views, stating, “It seems to me that an adult entertainment center [placed] into one of the five big box stores, the vacant Sears store, is way out of character with the master plan, and I think it’s way out of character with the mall, which [is] a family-friendly shopping center.”
Conversely, proponents of the new casino argue that it could invigorate the local economy. Local business owner Stefan Hausberger commented, “I think having a casino in the mall is outside-the-box thinking. But I believe, in the end, it will be a shot in the arm to the Daniel Webster Highway and the retail, restaurants, and what have you, down there.”
As Nashua welcomes this charitable casino project, it remains to be seen how it will impact the local community and economy in the coming years.
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