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Local charities affected by new poker room in South Bend

NILES, Mich. – The new poker room at Four Winds Casino in South Bend is impacting the charity poker room at Joey Armadillo’s Bar and Restaurant in Niles according to the charity coordinator.

For more than a decade, the charity poker room at Joey Armadillo’s has raised thousands of dollars for Michiana organizations.

Tony Todd, the charity coordinator, said the charity poker room lost so many customers, that the room will now be open only on Thursdays. That means less money for local charities.

Under Michigan law, any one charity can host a charity gaming event four times per year with the charity gaming event lasting up to four days.

However, Todd said when the poker room at Four Winds Casino in South Bend opened up in September, Joey Armadillo’s took a hit.

“We lost about 80 percent of our players,” said Todd.

Todd doesn’t blame Four Winds. Todd said he knows that business is business. Todd also understands why players want to play in South Bend.

“It’s easier to drive 10 minutes to play where you’re open 24 hours a day,” said Todd.

Todd said the dip in business is why the charity poker room at Joey Armadillo’s is now only open on Thursdays. That means less money for the charities it helps, like the Niles Moose Lodge.

“The last event we did, we we’re in the hole,” said member Darlene Borne. “My reaction was disbelief.”

Borne said they used to raise about $2,000.

“We help with relay for life, we’ve got project graduation,” said Borne. “We try to do things that involved kids and the seniors.”

It’s forcing charities to find ways to make up.

“I don’t want to have to cook 200 dinners, but that’s what we’re going to need to do,” said Borne.

It’s tough, but Borne and Todd think the game nights will rebound once the Michiana community realizes it’s more than just money.

“We’ll still make money,” said Todd. “It just won’t be what it used to be. The money we raised goes back to the community.”

“These people still need help. You know, we still need to support Relay for Life, the domestic violence shelters, all the local things.”

Charity game nights at the charity poker room will be held on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Joey Armadillo’s.

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