May 20, 2015 5:51 PM

Landrigan: NH Senate says legalizing Keno is a non-starter

CONCORD - The move to legalize Keno at bars and restaurants in the state took a mortal if not fatal hit before the State Senate.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted, 4-1, to reject the proposal for expanded gambling that could raise $26 million for the next, two-year state budget.

"Anyplace that sells liquor can put these machines in, you are going to have gambling in every corner in every town,’’ Boutin said.

Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Republican-led House of Representatives both agreed to include Keno as part of their budget plans. This means despite Senate opposition the topic will at least remain alive until House and Senate negotiators meet next month to try and craft a compromise budget.

Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, told NH1 News back in January that as far as he was concerned Keno should not be on the table until after the state legalizes betting at a casino.

The Senate approved a two-casino bill but the House of Representatives last month voted to killed it.

Sen. Jerry Little, R-Weare, insisted that Keno would not be a radical change comparing it to the existing, nightly lottery drawing games.

"It’s electronic Megabucks drawings that are more frequent, this is totally different than casino gaming,’’ said Little who opposed a casino.

Boutin said he spoke with police chiefs in his district who said allowing Keno at any bar and restaurant would turn into an ``enforcement nightmare’’ for them.

The proposal would require that a city or town would first have to vote for Keno to operate in that community.

Any bar or restaurant that allows it could offer the game daily from 11 am to 11 pm.

The owner of the venue would get 8 percent of the revenue from Keno, the rest would go to the state treasury except for 1 percent to be set aside for programs that treat addicted gamblers.


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