Charitable poker, blackjack games added to historic venue
By Kyle Stucker
Hampton Union, June 24, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON — Another big change is coming to the Hampton Beach Casino complex next week, as a year of milestones continues for the historic facility.
Last month, the 115-year-old restaurant, entertainment and retail complex got its first-ever year-round tenant. On June 26, the complex will officially feature something akin to the traditional meaning of the word "casino," as a new charitable gaming room featuring poker and blackjack will open in the back of the former Whale's Tale Restaurant space.
The Hampton Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the proposal for the 87-seat Atlantic Gaming charitable gaming facility at 169 Ocean Blvd. last week. The business will be Hampton Beach's second charitable gaming facility, and local officials believe it will help further efforts to enhance the area.
"Having more than one charitable gaming establishment will make it more interesting for people to explore (Hampton Beach)," said John Nyhan, chairman of the Hampton Beach Area Commission. "I don't see it as (competition), but sort of complementing each other. I think it's great because they provide (more) avenues for local charities and for (people) to give back to their communities and help people."
The new state-regulated facility is smaller than the beach's other charitable gaming establishment, Ocean Gaming, which opened in 2011, and will feature various types of cash poker and blackjack.
Atlantic Gaming will operate seasonally to start, opening in June and closing in early October. Casino complex owner Sal Lupoli said the business may seek the town's approval for a longer operating season if it's "successful and we raise a lot of money for charity."
"I think it's important that we evaluate how the season goes," Lupoli told the Hampton Planning Board on Wednesday.
Lupoli has invested between $500,000 and $700,000 this year in the Casino complex, which includes the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, as part of an ongoing plan to update the building and its offerings.
Lupoli has said his goal is to also create more jobs at the beach in the hopes it will lead to a longer summer tourism season.
Charitable gaming requires a special exception to Hampton's zoning ordinance, and Zoning Board of Adjustment members supported the Atlantic Gaming plan because Ocean Gaming has shown that this type of business can run smoothly in Hampton and help the area.
"I think it is nice to have these types of facilities giving people options, and it's all in good fun," said Tom McGuirk, a member of the board.
McGuirk said having multiple options for various activities is a plus for the beach, as he said diners "go down to Portsmouth or Newburyport," Mass., when they "don't know what they want to eat" because "there are a hundred restaurants down there."
He believes that having another charitable gaming facility helps expand Hampton Beach's entertainment options in a similar fashion, driving additional foot traffic and business to the area.
"I'm happy to see development on the beach," said McGuirk. "Every year and every month and every week there's something new on the beach."