Gambling for Good

The real winners at New Hampshire’s licensed casinos are the state’s charities
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Historic horse racing machines are the largest contributor to The Brook’s handle, followed by games of chance, pari-mutuel wagering on horse and dog racing, and sports betting.

It was booze, butts and bets that fueled New Hampshire’s economy in the 20th century with the profits from liquor and cigarette sales plus wagering at live horse and dog racing tracks filling the state’s coffers. These days gambling is still an important part of the mix, but the format has changed. Dramatically.  

The modern-day way to play is at the 14 different licensed charitable casinos crisscrossing New Hampshire. Their offerings can include table games of chance like blackjack, craps, roulette and poker, or popular variants like Bingo, Lucky 7 machines and historical horse racing machines. Once sports betting was legalized in 2019, the New Hampshire Lottery partnered with national industry leader and fantasy sports promoter DraftKings.

The betting business is booming, and the benefits are far-reaching.

“New Hampshire’s charitable gaming establishments have made and are continuing to make a tremendous positive impact throughout New Hampshire, generating vital revenue for hundreds of nonprofits performing meaningful work in all corners of the state,” says Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery, the regulatory agency for gaming.

This is nowhere more evident than at The Brook in Seabrook, which has undergone a rebranding and total transformation from an outdated, rundown and shabby former greyhound racing track into a glamorous, glitzy showplace since it was purchased in 2019 by Eureka Casino Resort of Nevada.

But while it isn’t exactly New Hampshire’s own Vegas, it takes a similar approach to enticing guests. (In fact, #LiveFreeAndPlay is The Brook’s hashtag.) 

“We wanted it to be fun. The place to play,” says Eureka President and CEO Andre Carrier. “This is New Hampshire’s night out. You want the energy that you get in Las Vegas when you’re out to have fun with friends, but you don’t want it to look like Las Vegas. You want it to look like New Hampshire. How do you make it authentic to New Hampshire and have the energy of Las Vegas? That’s The Brook.”

The 75-acre property debuted as Yankee Greyhound Park in 1973 and held live dog racing until the sport was outlawed by state lawmakers in 2009. When Eureka bought and developed the site it provided a New Hampshire homecoming for Carrier, who is a Jackson native and owns homes in the Mount Washington Valley and on the Seacoast, and for his partner and chairman of Eureka, Greg Lee, who is a graduate of St. Paul’s School in Concord. 

Eureka’s business model includes placing a high value on its employees, who own the Nevada and New Hampshire casinos through their employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). 

“We are the only 100-percent employee-owned resort casino company in the country,” says Carrier, who has been an industry executive since 1996 and worked for billionaires Steve Wynn, Tilman Fertitta and other casino titans.

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Players hope to get lucky on The Brook’s popular 500 Historic Horse Racing machines, which are a derivative of a slots machine.

The Brook is also the only place in the state where gamblers have the full menu of legalized betting options. There are multiple games of chance, 18 poker tables and 505 historical horse racing machines — akin to slot machines. Also, under state law, only former licensees of live horse and dog racing tracks can host off-track wagering, so the facility’s state-of-the-art “race book” with large screens simulcasting races from across North America is unique. 

Moreover, as of press time, The Brook is one of only three locations in the state where sports fans can place a legal bet on their favorite teams. The DraftKings Sports Book at Filitimo in Manchester and its sister location, the Filitimo Casino and Restaurant in Dover, are the others, though seven other retail and a few mobile sports betting licenses remain. 

“What’s so powerful about The Brook is this is now the largest charity casino in America,” says Carrier, who then repeats himself for emphasis, “We are the largest charity casino in America, and it is 100-
percent employee owned.” 

New Hampshire has allowed charity casino gaming since it passed the 2006 expanded gambling law. “For ‘games of chance,’ the charity receives 35 percent of gross gaming revenue (the amount wagered minus winnings paid to players) by law,” McIntyre explains. “With games of chance, the New Hampshire Lottery receives 10 percent of gross gaming revenue to support education.” Alternatively, licensed charities may receive revenue through historic horse racing where the charitable gaming establishments receive 75% of gross gaming revenue, licensed charities receive 8.75% of gross gaming revenue and the state receives 16.25%.

 “The state’s 14 charitable gaming spots generated more than $17.7 million for New Hampshire nonprofits in fiscal year 2022,” says McIntyre, with The Brook raising more than $2.5 million of that sum.

By the end of 2022 the number of nonprofits on The Brook’s roster of beneficiaries had grown to 104. The company says its calendar year donations totaled $4 million, and since the acquisition, have exceeded $8 million — big money that hard-working charities could never raise through bake sales and car washes.

“Let’s be clear,” says Carrier. “This is New Hampshire, so that giving is essential. In a non-income-tax state, the ability to fund social programming is sometimes not as deep as it is in other states. So the role of philanthropy becomes more important and more pronounced.” He adds that, due to the employee ownership of The Brook, the organization generates durable benefits to staff. “We’re providing essential, meaningful contributions to charities, and then with the remainder of the money after expense that exists, we are growing the long-term retirement benefits of the men and women who work here. That’s a pretty effective flywheel,” he says.

A New Hampshire charity that gets approved as a beneficiary may have up to 10 designated days to receive the money raised. The Brook allows each nonprofit one week, and currently helps two of them at a time. “That puts a lot of possibilities out into the universe every week,” Carrier says, and the community benefits create an upward spiral of positivity.

“The Brook has extended the bar much higher than any of the other charitable gaming locations in the Seacoast area, because of their involvement and the customer participation that draws a lot more money coming in for charitable gaming,” says John Nyhan, president of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce. “Organizations that were used to getting $15,000 as their donation are now getting anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000.” In January, the Hampton Area Chamber honored The Brook as its Business of the Year.

Nyhan cites the Hampton Rotary Club as an example of how this extends to benefit the community. “Last year, the Rotary got a check for about $47,000. What that means is that $47,000 goes from The Brook to the Rotary and then from the Rotary to the local food bank, soup kitchens and many others. That amount of money is very helpful in this community. They have created a number of jobs and done an awful lot in the area of economic development in Seabrook and on the Seacoast,” Nyhan adds. 

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Andre Carrier, president and CEO of Eureka Casino Company which owns The Brook, says the company is invested in New Hampshire for the long haul.

Carrier terms the renovation of the old dog track, undertaken immediately after the 2019 property purchase, “extreme makeover, casino edition.” But now Eureka is tearing up that original remodel and making this gaming and entertainment center even bigger. New renovations include the Seasons Show Room featuring headline acts, the sports book, the race book, two bars, the Grand Ballroom, catering kitchens, the poker room, four different historic horse racing areas on the casino floor, the table games area and the spacious outdoor deck.

“We’ve invested tens of millions of dollars, and this building isn’t done. By this spring we’ll have our first three-meal, traditional sit-down restaurant with New England comfort foods — and what I would call an element of culinary adventure every day. We have Victory Kitchen, which is the largest sports bar in New England by far,” says Carrier, proudly, also supplying this tidbit of anticipation: “We’ll add another restaurant next fall with a local partner that I think everyone will get excited about.” 

In January 2023 the total “handle,” or amount of money wagered on sports betting in New Hampshire, surpassed the $1 billion mark, and more than 23 million sports bets were placed in-state during the two years since the December 30, 2019, sports betting launch, according to the New Hampshire State Lottery. Carrier says that Massachusetts residents make up 60% of his customers on the weekdays and 70% of them on weekends. Maine residents also contribute substantially to the overall take.

Now serious competition is appearing over both borders. 

In 2022 Maine’s sports betting bill became law and Massachusetts authorized 15 license holders — 10 at physical locations and five online —  with the first of the sports books intending to become operational as of January 31, well in time for the 2023 Super Bowl in February. Mobile wagering via cellphone or tablet should be available in Massachusetts by the time the magazine appears on newsstands. One Bay State licensee is Carrier’s former employer Wynn Resorts, which is in the process of a $15 million expansion for its sports book at the Encore Boston destination resort casino. 

“Bringing mobile betting into Massachusetts is going to change things substantially for New Hampshire. It was great to be out ahead,” he says, adding they have a simple plan to respond to market forces as they play out. “You build a better mousetrap. That’s our goal. Quality matters. Experience matters. Service matters. You have to do all these things well.”

“We’re invested in New Hampshire and we’re here for the long haul,” says Carrier. “The good thing about being part of a 100-year-old family business (Eureka) is that you only think about the long haul. When you are investing for people’s long-term retirement benefits, you only think about the long haul. We came here because we expect to be able to create value for our employee owners, but also for our Seacoast, our state and our charity partners for a long time.”

Getting There

Aces and Eights Casino
Hampton • (603) 560-7676
Games of chance

Boston Billiards Club and Casino
Nashua • (603) 943-5630
Games of chance • Historical Horse Racing

Chaser’s Poker Room
Salem • (603) 912-4604
Games of Chance

Concord Casino
Concord 03301 • (603) 213-1024
Games of Chance • Lucky 7

Dover Poker & Gaming
Dover • (603) 516-1605
Games of chance • Bingo • Lucky 7
DraftKings Sports Book

Filitimo Casino
Manchester • (603) 668-6591
Games of chance • Bingo • Lucky 7
DraftKings Sports Book

Lakes Region Casino
Belmont • (603) 267-7778
Games of chance

Lebanon Poker Room
Lebanon • (603) 678-5906
Games of chance

Northwoods Casino
Berlin • (603) 723-9550
Games of chance • Lucky 7

Ocean Gaming at Hampton Beach
Hampton • (603) 601-6690
Games of chance • Historical Horse Racing

The Brook
Seabrook • (603) 474-3065
Games of chance • Historical Horse Racing
Simulcasting Thoroughbred, harness, and
greyhound racing • DraftKings Sports Book

The Lucky Moose Casino & Tavern
Nashua • (603) 881-9060
Games of chance • Historical Horse Racing

The River Casino & Sports Bar
Nashua • (603) 881-9060
Games of chance

Wonder Casino
Keene • (800) 501-4143
Games of chance • Bingo • Lucky 7

Categories: Law & Politics