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Manchester aldermen to hold hearing on Keno

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 15. 2017 9:13PM

MANCHESTER — City aldermen will hold a public hearing this week on the ballot question going before voters next month on whether to legalize Keno in the state’s largest city.

The public hearing is scheduled for this Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the aldermanic chambers on the third floor of City Hall.

In August, 12 members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted in favor of holding a citywide referendum on allowing electronic bingo-like games at bars and restaurants that will appear on the Nov. 7 municipal election ballot.

Alderman-at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur and Ward 8 Alderman Tommy Katsiantonis abstained from taking part in the Aug. 15 vote because both of them own restaurants that could have Keno.

Tuesday’s public hearing is being 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.

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 a city or town faces giving five-year-olds 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.

New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director Charles McIntyre 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.

“This is a two-step process. You put it on the ballot and then the citizens vote,” said McIntyre during a presentation in front of city aldermen back in August. “It is the most rigorous process for Keno in the country that I am aware of.”

McIntyre stressed that the games will only be played in “pouring establishments” and only in areas where alcohol is sold.

“It will only be sold in a bar area where they are actively serving liquor,” McIntyre said.

During each Keno game, players choose from one to 12 numbers, and every five minutes a computer randomly generates and displays 20 winning numbers from 1 to 80 on a video monitor. A player may place a wager from $1 to $25 per game. The more numbers players match, the more they win.

Prizes less than $600 are paid at the establishment where the game is played. Prizes $600 and above can be claimed at the NH Lottery Commission’s Concord office.

Once a bar or restaurant receives approval by the NH Lottery Commission, the establishment can offer Keno from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, and only those 18 or older will be allowed to play. Keno retailers will be paid an 8 percent sales commission.

Voters in 11 cities will weigh the Keno question this fall. Lottery officials believe New Hampshire could generate a profit of $9 to $15 million annually for kindergarten education if Keno is adopted by communities statewide.

Education Manchester Local and County Government

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