Lebanon City Council Says No to Keno Vote

Feb 6, 2019

Keno tickets at Billy's Sports Bar in Manchester in late 2017.
Credit Paige Sutherland / NHPR

For the second year in a row, Lebanon City Council has voted against putting the electronic gambling game Keno in front of voters.

 

After a lengthy debate on Wednesday night, the City Council voted 5-4 against a proposal from the American Legion to put Keno on the ballot.

 

Lebanon would have joined over 20 New Hampshire towns deciding next month whether to allow Keno at local bars and restaurants.

State lawmakers legalized the game in 2017 to raise money for full-day kindergarten, but left it up to communities to decide whether to allow it in their cities.

Lebanon City Councilor Karen Liot Hill voted for putting Keno on the ballot. She says it "would not likely pass a referendum vote" but still deserved consideration.

 

"The legislature made it clear that they thought this was something to be decided on a local level," she said. "And I think it would be the right thing for the City Council to let the people of Lebanon decide."

Currently, 66 towns allow Keno. That's fewer towns than Charles McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, had hoped. As a result, he says, profits will likely be around $5.25 million, about 60 percent of original projections.

 

The projected $5.25 million accounts for about 18 percent of kindergarten adequacy aid that the state sends to schools. McIntyre says he expects this number to increase in fiscal year 2020 if more towns vote yes on Keno in March.

 

Note: This story has been updated to include the Council's vote on Wednesday night.