Milford’s River Casino set to move to Nashua

NASHUA – Milford will lose its casino after an announcement last week that the River Casino is relocating to downtown Nashua.

"We’ve always wanted to be in Nashua," said Greg Barber, River Ca­sino’s general manager. "This is our first real op­portunity to do it."

River is buying out the Arena Sports Bar on High Street, just a block off Main Street. The new es­tablishment, to be called River Casino and Sports Bar, is set to open early next month, with 12 poker tables and six gaming ta­bles. Barber said the busi­ness will also have a full restaurant and bar.

Arena Sports Bar will stay open during the tran­sition and the dozens of televisions and three projectors will stay once it becomes a casino. The Milford location will be­come a bingo and Lucky 7 parlor, Barber said.

River Casino is one of nine charitable gaming casinos in the state and is already fully licensed to operate in New Hamp­shire. The state doesn’t al­low typical casinos to op­erate, but under the law, casino games can take place with specific param­eters. Charitable casinos must give 35 percent of the take every night to a New Hampshire-based charity registered with the secretary of state’s of­fice. No registered charity can benefit from a casino for more than 10 nights a year, leaving operations such as River to find doz­ens of charities in order to operate year-round.

Additionally, the state takes a 10 percent tax on all gaming, as well as a 3 percent tax on tourna­ment games. The games have a $4 maximum bet­ting limit.

Barber said River Ca­sino donated more than $2.6 million to nearly 75 nonprofits since it opened 10 years ago. Benefiting charities include animal protection groups, veter­ans organizations, student athletics, church pro­grams and food pantries.

Barber expects the charitable giving to triple in size at the new location.

"We have a great place here in Nashua," he said, "and we want our cus­tomers to walk through the doors and have a fun and exciting gaming ex­perience while knowing we are giving back to our community."

River will be the sec­ond gambling site to open in the city within a few weeks.

The Boston Billiard Club on Northeastern Boulevard celebrated a grand opening for its own charitable casino on Nov. 10, featuring dozens of poker tables and several other gaming tables.

Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-6531 or dfisher@cabinet.com.