The second time wasn’t the charm for keno in Keene Tuesday, as voters once again struck down the electronic gambling game at the polls.
Back in 2017, when it was billed by the Legislature as a funding mechanism for full-day kindergarten, keno failed in the Elm City by a margin of nearly two to one.
Whether a town or city allows the game within its borders has no bearing on whether the community gets any of the revenue — a factor that still holds true even now that full-day kindergarten is covered under the state budget.
For the first time in New Hampshire history, full-day kindergarten is funded after a budget compromise between Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and the Democratic-majority Legislature.
Now, instead of going to directly to help fund kindergarten, the game’s revenue gets pooled into the N.H. Department of Education’s budget and distributed statewide.
Just like the first phase of keno, a municipality’s share of state spending is not dependent upon or proportional to whether it establishes sites for the game.
Over the summer, Keene city councilors voted to give residents another look at keno after the N.H. Lottery Commission lobbied for it to get on as many ballots as possible.
But Keene voters struck it down again Tuesday — 2,153 to 1,743 — with keno again failing in all five of the city’s wards.
The closest keno came to clearing a majority this time was in Ward 1, where it fell 170-156.
Keno has already been passed in several area towns, including Charlestown, Fitzwilliam, Hinsdale, Jaffrey, Swanzey, Troy and Winchester, but it has yet to hit the jackpot in the Monadnock Region, raising miniscule revenue compared to other areas of the state.
Along with Keene, voters in Concord, Dover, Rochester and Portsmouth voted on keno during their municipal elections Tuesday. Concord and Portsmouth residents rejected the game, while it passed in Rochester and Dover, according to N.H. Public Radio.