BELMONT - The sign along Route 106 is eye-catching.
"Lakes Region Casino, Poker and Table Games."
A long road takes a visitor to the casino. On a busy weekend night, 20 or 30 cars fill the parking lot. Inside, men and women play card and table games, and a few leave the tables with more cash than they came with.
From the casino's profits, it donates to area boys' and girls' clubs and American Legion charities. There are about 19 charities in the area that the casino supports, said Ryan Gloddy, the casino's manager.
The lobby offers several attractive choices: to the left, the table gaming room, offering roulette, craps and cash poker games, including blackjack, Blackjack Bonus, Let It Ride, Three Card Poker and N.H. Hold'Em. Down the hall, there is a bingo room. Downstairs is the site of nightly poker tournaments, some of which guarantee the winner $1,000.
A cashier dispenses chips for poker. Players "buy in" to games for $20 or more, depending on the game, and then can buy "add-on" chips in many games.
Winners can take home a big chunk of change.
"In the poker tournaments, sometimes a winner will take home a few grand," said Gloddy.
Bingo winners who play for a "rollover jackpot" have won as much as $13,000 recently, he said.
The casino staff, some of whom came from other casinos in the region, greet visitors warmly, but the players don't pay much attention to newcomers. They're busy watching balls roll on the roulette wheel or cards floating from the dealer's deck.
The games are quick. The players buy thousands of chips with their "buy-ins." On Friday night, for instance, there Is a "50 Special," with a $50 buy-in giving players 4,000 chips. When they leave, winners exchange their chips for cash.
Outside the building, Josh Amos of Franklin explained that people come to the casino to have fun with their friends, but mostly to make money.
"It is a casino, but it's not really; the hardcore gambler isn't going to be interested here," Amos said. "I just won back what I paid to get in."
Gloddy said the limits on betting - no more than $4 may be wagered at one time in any of the games - and the limited winnings make this casino different from traditional casinos.
"It's not high stakes, nobody wins more than $2,000 or so if they win," he said. "It's all done on a smaller scale, but we play a lot of the same games that you'd see in a big casino. And the odds are comparable to those at a big casino."
At the gaming and poker tables, the players are clearly enjoying themselves. Staff members said most of them are "regulars" who come to the casino each week, mostly late Friday and Saturday nights.
Most players aren't aware that some of their money goes to charities, Gloddy said.
"They don't know about the charities, they're here to win money and enjoy each other," he said.