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Salem voters to decide fate of Keno on March ballot, Derry mulls doing likewise

By CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent

November 08. 2017 3:23PM


Salem voters will decide whether to allow Keno via a Town Meeting article in March, selectmen said.


Derry officials are considering the same procedure.


Salem Town Manager Chris Dillon said selectmen unanimously voted to include the warrant article on the March 13 ballot.


Tuesday, voters in seven New Hampshire towns and cities approved Keno, the New Hampshire Lottery's newest game aimed at funding full-day kindergarten.


"First the communities themselves have to vote if they want it in the community or not, and then establishments will apply to be able to have it in their facilities," Dillon said. "We're an SB-2 community, so it will go on the ballot for the voters to decide whether they want Keno to be in Salem or not."


The New Hampshire game is slated to begin in December and state lottery officials are promoting participation.


Lottery Executive Director Charles McIntyre was in Derry Tuesday to pitch the game to town leaders. He said Keno would be a boon for business and mean a bump in tips for waitstaff.


"Establishments that sell Keno in other states report an increase in food and beverage sales from customers staying longer to play Keno," he said.


Asked what types of establishments might host Keno, McIntyre said mainly taverns and non-chain restaurants, which get to keep 8 percent of sales as a commission.


The state provides all the necessary equipment, he said.


McIntyre estimated Derry might have a dozen to 15 businesses that could host the game.


Keno isn't likely to cause trouble for police, he told Derry councilors.


"In the sense of lottery tickets, Keno is not a particularly aggressive form of gambling. It's very passive. It happens every five minutes on a screen in the corner," McIntyre said. "It's like Bingo on a monitor."


A typical player might spend $10 on Keno in the course of a night, he said.


Voters in Berlin, Claremont, Laconia, Manchester, Nashua, Rochester and Somersworth approved Keno for their communities during Tuesday's election.


Concord, Dover and Keene rejected the game. Franklin already had approved Keno.


Long popular in Massachusetts and at casinos in Connecticut and Las Vegas, Keno is expected to generate more than $43 million in sales in the first full year in New Hampshire, of which $8.3 million is earmarked to pay for full-day kindergarten.


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