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Keno: No one shows for Manchester hearing

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 17. 2017 9:34PM
Manchester aldermen hold a public hearing on Keno ballot question but the public doesn't show up. Voters are to decide issue Nov. 7 (Paul Feely/Union Leader)



MANCHESTER — On the question of whether to legalize Keno in Manchester, Queen City residents apparently prefer to voice their opinions at the ballot box.

“I’m not sure this has ever happened before,” Mayor Ted Gatsas said when no one showed at a public hearing Tuesday evening.

Aldermen kept the hearing on the Nov. 7 municipal ballot question open for five minutes in case anyone came to speak on the issue. No one did.

In August, aldermen voted in favor of holding a citywide referendum on allowing electronic bingo-like games at bars and restaurants.

Tuesday’s public hearing was held for Manchester residents and business owners to discuss whether the measure should be passed. The public hearing is required under legislation passed last spring.

The ballot question is: “Shall the city of Manchester allow the operation of Keno games within the city?”

Voters in 11 cities will weigh the Keno question this fall.

Lawmakers legalized Keno as a means to provide financial support for school districts that adopt full-day, public kindergarten. Until this point, 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.

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

New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director Charles McIntyre told city aldermen in August he estimates Manchester could net for the state $1.3 million in profit from the game, which will be called Keno 603 in the state, if voters approve it.

pfeely@unionleader.com


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