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Towns eye keno for bars, restaurants

  • The lottery game keno opened in New Hampshire bars and restaurants in December. Now, two local towns are considering it.



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A few towns in the Monadnock region are leaving it up to voters to decide whether or not it will allow businesses to install a lottery game in their establishments. 

The game, called “Keno 603”, must be approved by taxpayers in Rindge, Jaffrey, and Wilton, who will decide if businesses with valid pouring licenses, like taverns and restaurants, can install the game for patrons to play. 

If passed, businesses would receive 8 percent of the profits made off the game while the remainder of the revenue would be directed at helping fund full-day kindergarten programs.

Taxpayers in the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District and Mason School District will decide whether or not they want full-day kindergarten this budget cycle. Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill last summer that incentivize districts to implement kindergarten by providing more funding. The state currently pays districts about $1,800 per kindergarten student. Under the new law, the state would chip in $1,100 more per student beginning in 2019, with the possibility of ticking up even more in the future depending on how much money is generated from keno.

“As a non-profit organization we’re always looking for additional money to survive,” said Denise Barlow, an office/ bar manager at the American Legion in Jaffrey.

Barlow said keno could provide a little extra cash to relieve some of the financial pressure they’re under, especially during the slower winter months. Barlow said the game could draw people into the legion who sit down, play, and stay a little longer while eating and drinking.

She said she likes the idea of much of the profits being directed to kindergarten students. She said the legion is a big supporter of kids. 

Randy Beers, the owner of the Monadnock Inn in Jaffrey, said he doesn’t think he would implement the game at the inn if the article were to pass.

“It’s just not the atmosphere of the inn,” Beers said about the game, adding that the establishment is a full-service inn and provides upscale-dining options.

Beers said they don’t even have a TV in the bar area, and that it’s more of a spot where people sit around a wood stove and talk to each other.

That being said, Beers said he doesn’t like regulations being placed on businesses, so he would support businesses being able to decide if they want to put the game in or not.

Roberta Oeser, a select board member in Rindge, said there are less than a handful of businesses in town that would qualify. Oeser said one business contacted the town and said they were interested in implementing the game, and not long after the board decided to let taxpayers decide.

Oeser said she doesn’t feel strongly one way or another about letting establishments play the game or not.

“My comment when we put it on the warrant was, ‘let the voters decide,’” Oeser said.

The game is already being played in six cities across the state and is now on sale in more than 40 bars and restaurants, according to a New Hampshire Lottery website.Wilton has posted a public hearing regarding the operation of the game on Monday, Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m. Rindge will hold their public hearing on Feb. 21 at 6:15 p.m.

Taxpayers in the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District and Mason School District will decide whether or not they want full-day kindergarten this budget cycle. Gov. Chris Sununu signed a full-day kindergarten bill last summer. The state currently pays about $1,800 for those students. Under the new law, the state would chip in $1,100 more per student beginning in 2019 with the possibility of ticking up even more in the future depending on how much money is generated from the game.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.