EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 11, 2014

Charities worry about The Rock's future

Charities fear loss of some $1.8M from The Rock

SALEM — As state lawmakers consider legislation that could bring a casino to Rockingham Park, leaders of local charities are worried they each could lose tens of thousands of dollars a year if expanded gambling isn’t approved.

At the Ingram Senior Center, gaming proceeds helped pay for a new addition and to keep programs running, according to Salem Senior Services director Patti Drelick.

At Greater Salem Caregivers, the money helps pay for basic operations, including the organization’s office and insurance, executive director Richard O’Shaughnessy said. Charitable gaming proceeds also fund clients’ transportation to medical appointments in Boston, he said.

“For Senior Services, it’s huge,” Drelick said. “You would have to hold a thousand bake sales to make up for a night of gaming.”

The organization received $45,000 through charitable gaming at Rockingham Park in 2013, Drelick said. Of that, $20,000 was used to replace a floor at the senior center, she said.

“That probably would not have happened if I had to pay for it with my budget,” she said.

In the last seven years, Salem Senior Services has reaped $362,000 through gaming — money that would be nearly impossible to replace, she said.

The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Derry received $45,000 last year through gaming at The Rock, club executive director Art McLean said.

“It’s a huge benefit to our club,” McLean said. “The money we raised paid the entire salary of one of our staff members.”

But the money they receive could soon disappear if casinos open in Massachusetts and expanded gambling is defeated in New Hampshire, the three charitable leaders said.

“Yes, it’s a concern,” Drelick said. “If the opportunity for casino gambling doesn’t come to New Hampshire, I think we would lose out. It would be real difficult.”

There’s also concern Rockingham Park could be closed if lawmakers do not approve casino gambling.

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