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Nashua may put Keno on November ballot

Union Leader Correspondent

August 08. 2017 11:36PM

NASHUA — Local voters may have the opportunity to vote this November on whether to allow Nashua establishments to operate Keno gaming.

Aldermen are looking at placing the matter on the ballot, a proposal that will be reviewed by an aldermanic committee in the coming weeks.

Charles McIntyre, director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, met with aldermen on Tuesday and told them that 2.5 percent of all Keno sales currently in Massachusetts are played by New Hampshire residents; five of the largest Keno retailers are along the Massachusetts border.

Gov. Chris Sununu recently signed a bill to fund full-day kindergarten by taxing newly authorized Keno games in New Hampshire. Nashua is the first community in the state to consider allowing Keno gaming.

The bill guarantees $1,100 per student each year, linked entirely to the revenue from Keno. If the gaming revenue rises over the years, the state per-pupil grant could reach $1,800 per student.

The program is voluntary, and Keno will only come to communities where voters approve the measure either by a town meeting or citywide referendum.

In Nashua, an aldermanic committee will study the proposal, which must be voted on by the full board by mid-September for it to be placed on the November ballot. A public hearing would have to be held in October, Alderman Brian McCarthy, president of the board, said.

The New Hampshire State Lottery would run the games and approve which bars and restaurants could have it; a liquor license is required, as well as a background check.

McIntyre said the profits from Keno will flow into the Education Trust Fund to support full-day kindergarten aid to public schools, meaning a city or town that adopts Keno may generate more profit for public schools than it would receive in full-day kindergarten grants.

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess acknowledged that he does not know much about Keno gaming, but said it is important to let the voters decide.

“I want to look into it a little more,” he said after listening to McIntyre.

Alderman Ken Siegel voiced concerns about Nashua offering Keno while other communities essentially ride on the coattails of the city.

Communities that don’t choose to host Keno will still receive the funds, acknowledged McIntyre. However, he said that Nashua, if it adopts Keno gaming, will also benefit through additional retail sales such as beer and sandwiches at participating establishments.

Education Local and County Government Nashua

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