Gaming facilities react to voters rejecting sports betting

NASHUA – There will be no sports gambling at brick and mortar facilities in the city of Nashua, at least not for now, because voters rejected the measure during the Tuesday Municipal Election.

“I certainly think that there could of been more information made available to people,” Director of Marketing at Boston Billiard Club & Casino Kevin McMahon said on Wednesday in reacting to the Tuesday vote. “My concern is that maybe it wasn’t understood that sports betting is legal in the state and that it will be taking place on mobile devices regardless of whether or not there are retail locations in Nashua.”

“It’s hard for me to agree with the skeptics when people say we got to slow down the way our communities are changing,” The River Casino and Sports Bar President and General Manager Jim Rafferty said. “I think we’ve got to speed up the way our communities are changing so that we can provide a better atmosphere for everybody.”

The question of “Shall we allow the operation of sports book retail locations within the city of Nashua?” appeared on the backside of voters ballots, and in the end, it failed to gain enough support, falling short with 4,665 “yes” votes and 4,733 “no” votes.

“The unfortunate thing is that although sports betting isn’t meant to be part of charitable gaming, it would have brought more people into our business and aided charitable gaming,” McMahon said.

Rafferty said he was also surprised residents have not seen all the good that charity gaming facilities have done, and not been able to think that sports betting would be an extension of that. Nonetheless, he said the citizens have spoken. He said he knows that voters in general are skeptical of gaming referendums. He said it is an additional aspect to a community that should not be taken lightly.

“I’m surprised that the citizens have not seen all the good that the charity gaming facilities have done, and been able to think that sports betting would be an extension of that, but the citizens have spoken,” Rafferty said.

He said since DraftKings has been awarded the mobile licenses, and that betting is happening in Nashua. He also said that most experts say 80% of the action will be played on mobile devices, while 20% will be people sitting around a bar at a place such as The River placing bets on sports.

For Rafferty, placing bets on sports is just a fun thing to do. He said people can get worked up about the effects of problem gambling, or whatever the issue is, but what he has seen is that it is usually just a bunch of young guys sitting around betting on football while enjoying a beer.

“In my view, it makes this a better community, a more fun place to be and live, and we’re going to have an opportunity to keep young people in our community if we continue to provide fun things for people to do, or you can force them to go to other places,” Rafferty said.

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