Board in Nashua, N.H. Grants Approval for Casino Placement within Mall Store

Published: September 12, 2023, 12:10h

Last updated: September 12, 2023, 12:10h

A plan to convert the former Sears store in Nashua, N.H. into a charitable casino is gaining momentum. The Nashua Planning Board recently approved the project by a 4-to-1 vote.

Pheasant Lane Mall entrance
Pheasant Lane Mall entrance, pictured above. Last week, local officials approved placing a casino in a vacant store at the mall. (Image: Simon Property Group)

The former Sears store is situated at the southeastern corner of Pheasant Lane Mall, which is located on the border of New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Once completed, which is anticipated to be by the end of next year, the two-story casino will span 169,000 square feet. It will feature over 1,000 historic horse race (HHR) machine games, as well as numerous table games.

ECL Entertainment and Clairvest are the developers behind the casino project. ECL already operates HHR venues in Kentucky, including the Mint Casino at Kentucky Downs, as reported by the New Hampshire Business Review. Clairvest is a private equity firm based in Toronto.

As part of the plan, gaming licenses currently held by two Nashua casinos, The Lucky Moose Casino & Tavern and The River Casino & Sports Bar, will be transferred to the new casino at the mall.

The Sears store has been vacant since 2020 and the mall is owned by the Simon Property Group.

Opposition to Casino

During the planning board’s review, some residents expressed concerns about how police would handle emergencies at the casino. One particular issue is that the entire parking area is located in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, rather than in New Hampshire.

Others believed that the presence of a casino would clash with the existing tenants of the mall.

It seems to me that placing an adult entertainment center into one of the five big box stores, the vacant Sears store, is not in line with the master plan, and I think it goes against the family-friendly nature of the mall,” said Bill Ohm, a local resident, in an interview with Manchester, N.H. TV station WMUR.

However, there are also supporters of the casino.

“I think having a casino in the mall is a unique and innovative idea, and in the end, it will have a positive impact on the Daniel Webster Highway and the retail and restaurant businesses in that area,” said Stefan Hausberger, a local business owner, as quoted by WMUR.

Other Local Gaming

In addition, Delaware North, a hospitality and entertainment company that owns Boston’s TD Garden and the Boston Bruins, recently acquired the Boston Billiard Club & Casino, which has a location in Nashua.

The Nashua operation has now been renamed as the Gate City Casino and has added a retail DraftKings sportsbook.

Eventually, the Gate City Casino will move to the Sheraton Nashua hotel, which is in close proximity to the mall.

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