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Rochester state representative asks for city Keno recount

Union Leader Correspondent

November 09. 2017 1:36PM
State Rep. Matthew Scruton, R-Rochester, is asking for a Keno recount in the city, where the measure passed by just one vote Tuesday. 

ROCHESTER — A Rochester state representative has asked for a recount of the city's Keno vote.

The ballot question asking whether the game of chance should be allowed in town passed by a single vote.

Republican Rep. Matthew Scruton said because Keno passed only on a 1,036-to-1,035 vote, he wants to make sure the votes of residents were recorded correctly.

Scruton filed the request with the City Clerk's Office Thursday morning after learning that the City Council voted at its meeting Wednesday night against requesting a recount.

Scruton said he has been outspoken in opposition to Keno, calling it an addictive form of gambling and an example of bad legislation married to good legislation.

Scruton said he and a number of colleagues approved the Keno bill because they wanted full-day kindergarten in the state.

"I don't think it's the right way to fund kindergarten. I don't think it's right for New Hampshire," Scruton said. "I don't believe Keno revenues will be as high as lawmakers anticipated, and I believe there are better ways to fund education."

Scruton said lawmakers should have set aside more money for education funding instead of asking school systems to rely on revenues that are not guaranteed.

State officials estimate in the first full year of operation, Keno will generate $8.5 million statewide at establishments that hold liquor licenses.

Scruton said that means the state is counting on Keno gamblers to lose money, and he is concerned that only 1 percent of revenue from Keno will go to the New Hamsphire Department of Health and Human Services to provide help for those with gambling addictions.

Scruton is working with fellow Rep. Chuck Grassie, D-Rochester, and state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, on a bill that would repeal Keno. They plan to present it to a House subcommittee next year.

According to an official at the City Clerk's Office, Scruton is not the only citizen who requested a recount Thursday. A date and time for the recount will be set by Monday at 5 p.m.

Voters in Manchester, Berlin, Claremont, Nashua, Laconia and Somersworth approved Keno gambling in their cities Tuesday. Concord, Dover and Keene rejected Keno.

Voters in Franklin approved Keno during a special election earlier this year.

City councilors Portsmouth refused to put it on the municipal ballot; Lebanon is to vote in March.

Towns in New Hampshire will be asked to put Keno on their election ballots this spring.

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