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Two Views: Should New Hampshire legalize Keno?

Should New Hampshire legalize keno? That’s an issue the House Ways and Means Committee has been considering in recent weeks.

When the House reconvenes next week, legislators will be asked to vote on such a proposal. The Ways and Means Committee is recommending passage – but in a split 14-5 vote. Here’s what the majority and minority had to say about it:

Republican Rep. Patrick Abrami of Stratham, writing for the majority: This bill will allow establishments licensed to pour liquor to also offer the game of keno, which is an electronic lottery game. As such, the net revenue generated would go to the education trust fund.

The amendment to this bill states that the licensee may retain 8 percent of the proceeds from keno games. In addition, of the remaining 92 percent, 1 percent shall be paid to the Department of Health and Human Services to support research, prevention, intervention, and treatment services for problem gamblers.

Democratic Rep. Mary Cooney of Plymouth, writing for the minority: While this bill presents the promise of $8 million to $9 million in revenue to the state of New Hampshire every year, the minority believes that the damage done to the communities far outweighs the revenue gains.

Keno is billed as an extension of lottery.

Massachusetts citizens spend three times what New Hampshire citizens do on gambling, and a large part of the difference seems to be due to Keno.

In the search for easy money there is always a cost.

Since there is no option for towns or cities to prohibit keno in their communities, keno could be located in any venue which serves alcohol. According to the fiscal note each location will sell $175,000 worth of tickets per year. This means that those dollars will be pulled out of the local economy.

Finally, our New Hampshire brand will be damaged with the additional advertising of keno games.

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