The Brook brings a taste of Las Vegas to New Hampshire
The rapid evolution of casino gambling in New England took another giant step last week when The Brook, formerly known as Seabrook Park for nearly four decades, introduced a complete rebrand and remodel. The project included the unveiling of an impressive sports viewing area that has brought a taste of Las Vegas to this small New Hampshire town located just over the Massachusetts border and less than an hour drive from Boston.
The timing for the grand opening of the sports viewing area could not have been better as it came less than two weeks after New Hampshire officially launched mobile sportsbetting via the DraftKings sportsbook app. On Sunday, The Brook was bustling with guests watching the NFL playoffs on the three cinema-size 4K video displays and over 150 televisions, while also taking advantage of the array of table games, live poker and Stadium Gaming offerings. “The overwhelming reaction from guests has been positive,” said Andre Carrier, CEO of Nevada-based Eureka Casino Resort, a 100% employee-owned company that acquired the historic 75-acre, Seabrook property last year and immediately dug in and began the redevelopment process. “They are excited when they see the remodel, and looking forward to watching both their Boston sports teams and national events in the racebook. “Several have even said this beats any sports viewing experience they've had, in Vegas or otherwise. The cinema screens, sofa seating and movie theatre-style recliners have gotten the most praise.” The atmosphere and offerings now available at The Brook follow the introduction of sports betting in late 2018 in Rhode Island, as well as Massachusetts welcoming its first two full blown casino resorts in the last 17 months with the opening of MGM Springfield back in the summer of 2018, and the lavish Encore Boston Harbor, which opened its doors to great fanfare this past summer. But with Massachusetts dragging its feet on legalizing sports betting and the governor of Maine vetoing a bill for sports betting last week, New Hampshire has a stranglehold on providing a need for avid sports bettors in northern New New England. “We are already the only place in New Hampshire where you can make a pari-mutuel wager, so building a world-class racebook and a sports viewing area for our long-time guests made all the sense in the world,” added Carrier, who grew up between Southeastern Massachusetts and the White Mountains in New Hampshire. “We've already seen an influx of people driving north on 95 to come spend the day watching sports on the cinema screens and betting through their apps at The Brook.” The Brook’s stadium-seating venue is much like the sportsbooks you see up and down the Las Vegas Strip. The three 9-by-27-foot video screens can be broken down to as many as six screens each, but on a day like Sunday the middle screen was dedicated to NFL football. Amidst the other 150 TV monitors are two rows of eight, ultra-comfortable, reclining leather seats with drink holders and trays, as well as eight private sections that have couches and personal monitors. These sections seat as many as eight people and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, but can also be reserved in advance with a minimum $200 spend on food and beverage. But unlike Encore Boston Harbor, which is located about 40 miles south, just outside Boston, or the mega-resorts in Las Vegas, the food menu at The Brook, albeit limited right now, is more than affordable, with draft beers starting at $2.75 and menu items like pizza slices ($2.25) and burrito bowls ($6.95) for under $10.
“We also feel like New England is home to the greatest sports fans in the world and if you can't go to the game, The Brook, we think, it's the best place to watch sports anywhere in New England,” said Carrier. While sports betting is only available via the mobile DraftKings app right now, The Brook is hoping to become one of 10 brick-and-mortar locations in the state to offer retail sports betting. The Seabrook town selectmen voted unanimously to support Eureka Casino Resort’s request and a vote will take place on 10 March. “The town of Seabrook has had pari-mutuel wagering for nearly 50 years and they will hold a vote in early March to approve sports betting,” Carrier said. “Should that happen, we think there is a good chance you will see a retail sportsbook at The Brook in 2020. Exit 1 on Route 95 would be a prime location to help the state capture revenue from both the large Massachusetts population right to our south, as well as the influx of tourists coming to the Seacoast in the summer, and it is also a convenient location for those who may come from Maine.” Before the remodel, the casino section, which includes blackjack, roulette and Cajun Stud, food and beverage, and racebook at the 90,000 square-foot former dog track were located in different sections of the building, but now everything is in the same central area. In addition to table games, The Brook is the only gaming venue in New Hampshire with Stadium Gaming seating, an interactive table game experience featuring live dealers and the ability to switch between multiple games using a touchscreen on individual player terminals. There is also a bar with multiple TVs and beers on tap, a “retro arcade,” complete with pinball and classic video games, as well as three live poker tables. The former Greyhound Casino & Tavern down the hall now houses another dozen or so poker tables that are used for the regular schedule of daily tournaments. Also, making The Brook unique to competition in other states is the fact that New Hampshire uses a charity model with 35% of gaming revenues going directly to a rotating list of local organizations. “The Brook seems to connect with both new and longtime guests,” Carrier said. “We know there are going to be some things that we can do better in the coming weeks as we get used to bringing the racebook and casino together, but our employee-owners are energized and our guests recognize things will only get better from here.”