Milford gambling house manager: Advertising doesn’t pay

MILFORD – Players at the River Card Room don’t go there to lose, the gaming room’s manager Greg Barber told the Milford Planning Board on May 20.

So, gamblers are unlikely to be interested in playing games to raise money for local organizations, he said.

Barber was before the board for a change in the charity gambling parlor’s use permit, and he was asked by Chairwoman Janet Langdell why it didn’t advertise its “charitable organization du jour,” on its website. Under state law, gaming can only occur when there is a charity scheduled to be the day’s benefactor.

“Advertising charitable gaming doesn’t work out. The people we reach out to on a regular basis don’t show up to lose money,” Barber said.

So Langdell suggested that the card room might attract new players by featuring the charities on its website. “It’s been a concern of mine since (the card room) opened,” she said.

The River Card Room, located at Granite Town Plaza on Elm Street, offers Texas hold-em, blackjack, poker and other games. Last year, it added bingo, Lucky 7 and raffles, and that’s why the change of use permit was needed.

The 25-table facility only offered poker when it opened in 2008.

According to its website, River Card Room has given $1.5 million to charity over the past five years, but board member Paul Amato, who is on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Souhegan Valley, said the cut to the charities has been whittled down .

Barber said since 2012, the card room has been levying rental fees on charities, which has been allowed by law since 2006.

Those fees have enabled the business to keep its doors open, Barber said.

“I can tell you our four main investors haven’t pulled a dime out of this place,” he said. “We are losing money every year.”

By law, the card room must give 35 percent of its gross gaming revenue to charity, and each charity makes a minimum of $2,000 over 10 days, Barber told the board.

In 2012, about $4.8 million of charitable gaming revenue in the state went to charities, according to the New Hampshire Business Review, which range from homeless shelters to veterans groups. Some $1.6 million went to the state, and the $7 million left over was the game operators’ revenue.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.