Poker room wins big with Salem Planning Board

·2 min read

Aug. 5—SALEM, N.H. — A local poker room has been granted conditional approval by the Planning Board to expand into a vacant former department store across the street. The unanimous acceptance came after 16 months of debate.

Plans for the new Chasers Poker Room have changed during the lengthy application process, most notably when it comes to the organization of games between the two locations. The existing spot, 7 Veterans Memorial Parkway, will continue to feature poker tables.

A revised floor plan of the former K-Mart at 161 South Broadway was OKed for 490 electronic games and 160 table games — 650 seats instead of 800 originally proposed. The full intended use is possible, but only in phases with future board approval.

At the get-go, that leaves 40% of the building to be occupied only by employees for security and other measures.

Before Chasers can welcome patrons to its second location, the owners must get approval for a pedestrian crosswalk at Veterans Memorial Parkway, among other logistical conditions.

Planning Board members learned before voting that Kymalimi LLC, the business entity of Chasers, has worked out a leasing opportunity for 100 off-site employee parking spots.

That was in response to repeated parking concerns, mainly from attorneys for the plaza owner, Market Basket.

Several board members noted that they supported the plan because of input from independent traffic consultant Steve Pernaw, who has historically advised the town.

In a memo, Pernaw explained that he believes traffic in the area will operate similarly to when a shopping center was fully occupied. Weekends and special holidays may be exceptions, he said.

Under New Hampshire law, a portion of revenue from charitable gaming operations is allocated to nonprofit organizations licensed in the state.

Anticipated business at the second Chasers spot is expected to help double charitable contributions, growing to $10 million for more than 40 local organizations.