Let the People Vote, Say Some Lebanon Residents on Keno

Jan 22, 2018

Peter St. Pierre, club manager at Lebanon American Legion Post#22, holding the petition aiming to put Keno on the ballot for city elections in March.
Credit Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

Between pouring drinks and clearing the deck, the bartender at the American Legion post in Lebanon this week has an additional task in mind: political organizing. Behind the bar is an old-fashioned paper petition -- they're trying to get enough signatures to put the electronic gambling game Keno on the city ballot in March.

It’s been a tough go. The deadline for the petition is Wednesday, and on Monday afternoon, even the club manager said he’s not confident they’ll get the 420 names they need.

New Hampshire legalized Keno last year as a way to help fund all-day kindergarten across the state. But the game has to be approved on a city-to-city basis. The Lebanon city council already said 'no' outright, citing concerns with gambling and addiction when it decided against putting the issue in front of voters earlier this year.

The city council did hold a public hearing before making their decision, but Peter St. Pierre, club manager at the American Legion, said that’s not enough.  “All we want to see is a fair vote,” he said, adding that some of the local club members have been heading to other cities, like Manchester and Claremont, that have legalized the game.