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Keno to appear on Berlin ballot Nov. 7

Union Leader Correspondent

August 23. 2017 3:00PM

BERLIN – Keno will be on the ballot here Nov. 7.

After a presentation Monday night by Charles McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, city councilors voted unanimously to include a Keno ballot question.

The state earlier this year approved Keno as a means of paying for full-day kindergarten, which Berlin already offers and is receiving about $1,800 a year per student from the state. Keno revenue is expected to increase that amount by $1,000 or more per student.

The money would be welcome, said Mayor Paul Grenier, who is staring at a loss of state education-stabilization aid of about $210,000 a year.

“Berlin has always been on the cutting edge of supporting casino gaming and gambling in the state,” the mayor said, “and we certainly would support any effort by the Lottery Commission and state to increase education aid to communities.”

The mayor believes there are as many as five clubs or establishments in the city that could potentially sell Keno tickets. To do so, a retailer must have a NH liquor license for “on premise” sales.

The Lottery Commission claims Keno has helped increase food and beverage sales because customers are spending more time in businesses to play the game. Retailers also get an 8% commission on Keno sales, which the Lottery Commission says is the highest commission paid in the U.S.

But critics call Keno a “sucker’s bet” because the payout is so wildly in favor of the “house” compared to other forms of gambling.

Grenier said it would be poor optics for a city or town complaining about not enough education aid to vote down Keno. Since its founding in 1964, the state’s lottery system has paid the lion’s share of school funding, he said, and Keno is a continuation of that.

To not allow Keno in Berlin “kind of puts you in a bad light,” Grenier said.

Berlin will hold a public hearing on Keno sometime in September.

Education Berlin Local and County Government