Industry Reports

Lebanon City May Revive Ballot Question on Whether to Allow Keno Games

With a dwindling economy and budget deficit, the gambling expansion idea has turned into a hot topic across in many states across the United States. This week, the council members in Lebanon City are to discuss whether the city residents will be allowed to determine if they will permit the lottery gambling game keno to enter restaurants and bars. The debate is expected to invoke mixed feelings among the councilors.

This week, the Lebanon councilors are to discuss a ballot that would allow locals to decide if the bingo-like game keno should be played in restaurants and bars in their city. This is not the first time in which the Lebanon City Council considers the same issue. In 2017, the councilors decided to postpone the decision on whether to add the keno question to the March ballot.

The decision was triggered by the speech of two of the councilors, who voiced their concerns about people’s exposure to gambling-style games in public places. The two opponents warned their colleagues that allowing keno in bars and restaurants may lead to a growing epidemic of gambling addiction. They argued that the councilors are tasked with preventing locals from gambling problems.

According to Councilor Clifton Below, the expansion of keno games is to hurt the people with a lower income. This statement is quite unsurprising, having in mind that various reports point that the gambling addictions mostly affect people with financial problems. Below said via e-mail that New Hampshire already faces a growing wave of gambling addicts and allowing keno to enter bars and restaurants is to worsen the current situation. Prior to putting the issue on the ballot, the city councilors decided to hold a public hearing.

It is interesting to note that New Hampshire’s Lottery Commission currently donates $25,000 to the New Hampshire Council on Problem Gambling. Apart from that, the law requires that 1% of the gaming profits go to support a special treatment for problem gambling. However, Below explained that this is not enough, having in mind the growing number of people, who are suffering from gambling-related problems. At present, there are 22,000 residents, who are recognized as pathological gamblers.

New Hampshire Keno Case at a Glance

Last year, New Hampshire approved a bill to fund full-day kindergarten through tax revenues from keno games. All New Hampshire communities were given the right to vote for or against the electronic bingo game keno to enter public establishments that have a liquor license. Inspired by the idea to fund full-day kindergarten, most of the communities embraced the idea. However, communities that decide to stay away from the gambling expansion are also eligible for full-day kindergarten funding.

The lottery officials projected that Lebanon might heavily contribute to the kindergarten funding system, supposing that the community embraces the changes. At present, the issue is up for a public vote at 11 New Hampshire communities.