Franklin becomes first N.H. municipality to put keno on ballot

Monitor staff
Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Franklin residents will get to decide this October whether they have the option to play keno when they go out for a drink.

The city’s council voted unanimously Monday night to add a question to the ballot for the upcoming election this fall, making them the first municipality in the state to do so, according to Franklin City Manager Elizabeth Dragon. The Nashua city council is scheduled to vote on a similar ballot question Tuesday, she said.

The Legislature approved in June partial funding for full-day kindergarten through a new KENO 603 lottery game. Municipalities must decide whether they want to allow the game to be played in their town or city.

“The council made their decision because they felt it should be up to the voters,” Dragon said.

Only establishments that have a license to serve liquor – not just sell it, like some convenience stores – will be allowed to have keno. The owners of the establishments will be subject to a background check and will have to pay an annual $500 licensing fee, according to the New Hampshire Lottery Commission presentation on keno to the Franklin City Council.

Dragon said eight locations in Franklin fit the bill, and the commission will be reaching out to those businesses if keno is approved.

Establishments that do allow keno will have the chance to earn an 8 percent commission on every dollar from the KENO 603 game, according to the Lottery Commission. They can also earn a bonus for selling a KENO 603 prize of $10,000 and greater than or equal to 1 percent of the prize capped at $75,000.

Even if Franklin does not decide to approve keno, the city will still be eligible for any kindergarten funding generated through the game, Dragon said. She noted, however, that potential future revenue would be affected if only a few municipalities approve keno, and said cities and towns that do not approve the game run the risk of having interested players take their business elsewhere.

A public hearing on keno will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 5 in the council chambers in City Hall, Dragon said.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @ActualCAndrews.)