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Keno wagering tops $500,000 in first weeks

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 10. 2018 11:41PM
Christine Adams and her friend, John Anderson, play Keno at Lakeside Lanes in Manchester on Wednesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
Keno 603 at a glance
• $532,417: Total wagered through Jan. 6

• $48,657: Total sales at 2 Doors Down in Somersworth, the top-selling outlet.

• $10,000: Biggest payout so far, on Dec. 18 at the American Legion Sweeney Post 2, and on Jan. 2 at Moe Joe's Family Restaurant, both in Manchester.

Keno players are spending about 15 percent more per location than predicted, with more than a half-million dollars wagered during the game’s first 23 days in New Hampshire.

“Certainly, we’re ahead of projections in terms of the stores that have offered it,” said Charles McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery.

“Keno 603” locations averaged $578 a day in sales, compared to the $500 predicted, between the opening day, Dec. 15, and Jan. 6.

Players wagered $532,417 in those 23 days, according to the lottery, producing about $100,000 for full-day kindergarten — the objective for which the game was approved by the Legislature.

The top location, 2 Doors Down, a bar and restaurant in Somersworth, recorded the highest total wagering, $48,657, or more than $2,000 a day on average.

“A lot of people from the surrounding area are coming here to play as opposed to going to (Massachusetts),” said 2 Doors Down owner Sherri Spencer. “My business is probably up 20 percent.”

Billy’s Sport’s Bar & Grill in Manchester notched the second-highest total handle, $43,221, followed by South Side Tavern in Manchester at $32,670.

Keno is offered at 42 locations in seven communities that approved the game: Berlin, Claremont, Franklin, Laconia, Manchester, Nashua and Somersworth. Five communities have rejected keno.

The lottery adds one or two locations a week.

Tim Mills of Center Barnstead checks a Keno ticket while having lunch at Moe Joe's Family Restaurant in Manchester on Wednesday. He had an $8 winner. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

At least 20 communities will vote at town meeting in March on whether to allow keno, which will produce “the next large infusion of businesses,” said lottery spokesman Maura McCann.

The 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 last Saturday, $10,000, happened twice in Manchester: Moe Joe’s Family Restaurant and at the American Legion Sweeney Post 2.

“I think it’s good we have it, so people in New Hampshire don’t spend their money in Massachusetts,” said Manchester resident Derek Gagnon, who played Keno Tuesday night at Salona Bar & Grill in Manchester.

“I only did it because it was new to New Hampshire,” Gagnon said. “Gambling is not my thing. The odds are just so far off.”

Tim Guleff helps his mother, Janet, check her Keno tickets at Salona Bar & Grill in Manchester on Wednesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Salona bartender Maria Kostakis said Keno has boosted business.

“I see people a lot more often and for longer,” she said.

“One of my regulars, he’s hit $500 about 10 times,” she said. The man hit $500 on back-to-back nights this week, hitting four numbers out of four that pays $100 on a $1 bet, she said. The man bets $5 a ticket, producing a $500 winner.

“He’s on a lucky streak,” Kostakis said. “He can’t lose.”

At Moe Joe’s, Tim Mills of Center Barnstead was playing Keno with his fiancee, Shannon Kelley, while they ate lunch.

“It’s kind of entertaining,” Mills said. “It’s like real fast bingo.”

At Lakeside Lanes in Manchester, Allenstown resident Christine Adams came to learn the game’s rules before filling out her Keno card. She used to occasionally drive to Methuen, Mass., to play keno.

“I’m glad it’s up in New Hampshire now,” she said. “I feel lucky.”

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