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Keno tops $1 million in sales; Manchester in the money

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 31. 2018 9:27PM

State lottery officials said sales of the new Keno 603 game topped $1 million in just six weeks, with half of the top 10 most popular places in New Hampshire to play the electronic bingo game located in Manchester.

Keno launched statewide on Dec. 15. The game is currently offered at 45 locations in seven communities that approved the game: Berlin, Claremont, Franklin, Laconia, Manchester, Nashua and Somersworth. Five communities have rejected Keno.

At least 20 communities will vote at town meeting in March on whether to allow Keno.

Charlie McIntyre, executive director of New Hampshire Lottery, said sales of the game continue to outpace projections.

“We are extremely pleased to see the initial success of Keno 603, as players have been drawn to establishments offering the new game,” said McIntyre. “We are hearing from licensed establishments that Keno 603 is a significant business driver that adds fun, excitement, entertainment and plenty of winning to the overall experience.”

The top three establishments in terms of Keno sales are 2 Doors Down in Somersworth, with $108,110 in sales; Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill in Manchester at $78,565; and Southside Tavern in Manchester at $75,387, according to lottery officials.

Sherri Spencer, owner of 2 Doors Down in Somersworth — the top Keno 603 retailer in the state — said guests are staying longer as they play the game, and coming back more frequently.

“It’s been great,” said Spencer. “I’ve had new customers say they didn’t even know we were here before we offered Keno 603, and our regulars love it as well. We’re busier than ever, so much so that I’ve had to hire a new part-time cook and a part-time bartender, which is good news.”

Spencer said the game is creating customers who stick around.

“Some guests will play for quite a while, while others will come in and play for a few minutes or come buy tickets and then come back the next day,” said Spencer. “Overall, traffic is really up.”

Mike Lanoie, owner of the Derryfield Restaurant in Manchester, said he has seen more traffic because of Keno.

“Our regular customers are playing and we’re seeing new folks come in to play as well,” he said. “This is our slowest time of the year. When the golf course opens, and with a 200-seat outdoor deck, I think we’ll be especially busy come spring.”

Lawmakers legalized Keno last year as a means to provide financial support for school districts that adopt full-day public kindergarten.

Prior to legalizing Keno, New Hampshire’s state budget gave communities $1,800 per student to represent the cost of a half-day program. But under the full-day kindergarten law Gov. Chris Sununu signed last spring, communities with full-day kindergarten will get an extra $1,100 per student, whether those towns or cities adopt Keno or not.

As Keno revenues increase, grants for full-day programs could rise up to $1,800 per student, which would approximate the total cost a city or town incurs for a complete day in school.

None of the money raised locally by Keno stays in the community; instead it all goes to the Education Trust Fund that supports state grants for school districts — meaning a city or town that adopts Keno may generate more profit for public schools than it would receive in full-day kindergarten grants.

Keno revenue is divided as follows: 70 percent as prize money, 19 percent to fund full-day kindergarten, 8 percent to the businesses hosting the game, 2 percent for administrative costs and 1 percent to the state Department of Health and Human Services for problem gambling.

The highest amount won on a single ticket through Wednesday was $13,500, paid out to a patron at Fricker’s Neighborhood Grill in the Queen City earlier this month.

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