7 more cities approve keno in bars, restaurants
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Dozens of bars and restaurants didn’t wait for Tuesday’s votes to start looking into hosting the electronic bingo game keno in their facilities.
The Legislature authorized the game earlier this year to raise money for full-day kindergarten but left it up to each community to decide whether to allow it. Seven of the state’s 13 cities approved keno during municipal elections Tuesday: Berlin, Claremont, Laconia, Manchester, Nashua, Rochester and Somersworth. In Rochester, it passed by a single vote.
Meanwhile, voters in Concord, Dover and Keene rejected keno. Portsmouth had earlier decided to not even put the issue to a vote, while Franklin voted in October in favor of keno. Lebanon will vote in March, which will also be the first opportunity for hundreds of towns to decide during their annual town meetings.
State lottery officials have said they expect about 250 of the 2,000 eligible bars, restaurants and other liquor-license holders across the state will have keno, generating $9 million per year. In the seven cities that approved keno Tuesday, there are just over 400 potential locations, according to lottery spokeswoman Maura McCann. Among that total, 88 have either applied to become keno retailers, met with lottery officials or scheduled a meeting, McCann said, and officials took numerous calls Wednesday from interested business owners.
Towns and cities with full-day kindergarten programs will get the state money regardless whether they have keno in their communities.
The state currently offers school districts $1,800 per student for kindergarten enrollment, or half the grant provided for $3,600 for students in grades 1-12. Under the new system, districts will get at least $1,100 per kindergarten student and more if keno revenue increases over time.