December 12, 2018MEREDITH — New Hampshire Lottery Commission Deputy Director Lynda Plante visited the Meredith Board of selectmen during their Dec. 3 workshop to answer any questions and address any concerns about Keno. She said representatives from the commission have been visiting the boards and councils of the different communities who have not approved Keno, and are encouraging communities to adopt it.
Keno was on this year's town warrant, but was voted down by a large majority. Locally, Keno has been approved in Center Harbor, Laconia, Belmont, Tilton, and other surrounding communities.
Plante said Keno has been approved for licensed pouring establishments in 66 different towns and cities in the state. She said the commission identified 15 different establishments in Meredith that could have Keno.
"People do call our agency (asking), 'When is it going to get passed in Meredith?'" Plante said.
She said one establishment that has expressed interest is the American Legion.
Proceeds from Keno benefit full day kindergarten in the state. Every district with full day kindergarten is slated to receive $1,100 per student toward kindergarten. With more communities doing Keno Plante said this number could go up to potentially $1,800 per student.
Communities that don't have Keno can still receive the money. Plante said however the fewer communities that have Keno would make the $1,100 less sustainable. So far, the state has been making enough money to distribute the $1,100 per student and on pace to make its goal and they are hoping more communities will get Keno in the coming town voting year.
Establishments that have Keno receive an eight percent commission and Plante said could attract more business. Plante said if a nearby community has Keno, people could gravitate more towards those communities, which could take business outside the area that doesn't have it.
"You want to be sure there are retailers who would like this opportunity, and it's an opportunity for people to come to your town," Plante said.
In one example, Plante said Keno did not pass in Concord but passed in neighboring communities like Bow, Pembroke, and Boscawen.
"Those places are doing really well because people go over there to play Keno outside of Concord," Plante said.
Selectman Jeanie Forrester asked whether lottery officials have documented the exact impact Concord is seeing as a result of this. Plante said the commission is currently doing research. UNH has been doing a study, and the state has been distributing surveys. She said a lot of retailers in Concord have said they want Keno, though did not have exact numbers.
Selectman Ray Moritz said the board had elected not to put it on the warrant because there didn't seem to be any interest. A petitioned warrant article generated by the owners of Lakeview Tavern was, however, submitted to the town and put on the warrant.
Moritz said the owners of Lakeview were the only ones who spoke in favor of it at town meeting. A number of people spoke against it, with concerns including the dangers of gambling addiction. One business owner said he would not have it in any of his establishments.
Plante said they do have a one percent allocation that goes to gambling addiction assistance.
"We know that that is a concern for people," Plante said.