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Sports betting to be on Nov. 5 ballot in Nashua

NASHUA — Voters will decide if sports gambling will be legal in Nashua during the Nov. 5 general election, thanks to the Tuesday 14-0 vote by members of the Board of Aldermen.

With Alderman Ernest Jette absent, members passed Resolution 19-162, which is relative to a ballot referendum to allow sports betting within the city.

“This is the opportunity to let the citizens of Nashua decide whether we’re going to have sports betting,” Mayor Jim Donchess said during Monday’s Personnel/Administrative Affairs Committee meeting. “Our two charitable gaming sites in Nashua have expressed their support. They believe that it will help them generate actually more money for our nonprofits.”

A public hearing will take place to allow residents to express support, opposition, or other opinions on the matter. The public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Aldermanic Chamber of Nashua City Hall, 229 Main St.

When it comes time for voters to head out to the polls, the question appearing on the ballot will be: “Shall we allow the operation of sports book retail locations within the City of Nashua?”

“To me it’s going to be up to the citizens,” Alderman-at-Large Ben Clemons said during the committee meeting. “I don’t see why we should have much opposition to this because, ultimately, the citizens of Nashua are going to make the final call on it and so we should let them do that.”

Tuesday, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission Charles McIntyre was on-hand to answer board members’ questions.

Alderwoman Patricia Klee said it will be a multi-step process in order to make sports betting a reality in the city. She said some people had concerns about sports betting because, unlike the other games, revenue from this may not go to charities.

“In other words, they come in, make a bet and while they’re there, they go in and play table games and therefore, in a roundabout way, get more for charity,” Klee said.

As it is, The River Casino and Sports Bar President and General Manager Jim Rafferty said in the 12 years his facility has been in operation, over $3.2 million has go toward 100 charities throughout the region. He stands in support of sports betting.

“Nashua has led the way in Keno and I think we should lead the way here in sports betting also,” Rafferty said.

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206, or at aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.