Charity poker operation approved in N.H.

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The Milford Observer is reporting that a proposed change-of-use plan that will turn a former grocery store into a charity gaming operation received approval from the Milford Planning Board this week.

The proposal is headed up by New Hampshire Charitable Gaming and would create "The River," a poker hall complete with Texas Hold'em and other poker games and tournaments. By state law 35% of the profits of such a facility must go to charity. Those in favor of The River predict that the operation could earn as much as $350,000 for various nonprofit groups each year.

Charity gaming has been legal for years in New Hampshire but only for small events like Monte Carlo nights. A recent law change allows charities to hire professional organizations to run the games for them.

Technically that means that New Hampshire Charitable Gaming is in need of a dedicated building and charities wishing to hire the group. Each charity is allowed to hold 10 events per year so the gaming group will have to find a number of charities to raise funds for throughout the year so they can run events every day.

The charitable gaming industry is heavily regulated with state rules and statutes governing the hours of operation and how the money is handled. The highest maximum bet is $2 and the entry fee into tournaments will range from $20 to $250. State law allows the facility to be open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day except for Sunday when it cannot open before noon.

State law allows other casino games but poker will be the primary attraction.

The proposal is for 25 poker tables with room for 10 players each. The establishment plans on serving drinks and food although that isn't the primary focus.

The board stipulated that if the gaming operation wishes to add more casino games, another visit to the planning board would be required. For now it will only offer poker games and tournaments.

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