After a resounding rejection by city voters in 2017, keno is back on the ballot in Keene Tuesday.
The electronic gambling game has yet to hit the jackpot in many communities, and was voted down in the Elm City by a nearly two-to-one margin in 2017. It has been passed in several area towns, including Hinsdale, Jaffrey, Swanzey, Troy and Winchester.
Launched in December of that year after earning legislative approval and Gov. Chris Sununu’s signature, keno was created as a funding mechanism for full-day kindergarten.
Yet despite falling short of its funding targets, the recent budget compromise between Sununu and the Legislature has altered the end destination of keno revenue.
Keno now simply helps fund the Department of Education, since full-day kindergarten is now covered by the state budget for the first time in Granite State history.
Over the summer, Keene city councilors approved a request from the N.H. Lottery Commission to put keno back on the ballot.
The game uses a screen, pencils and a card with numbers on it. Each game, players can pick up to 12 numbers, hoping to have theirs matched by the ones generated randomly every five minutes on the screen. Wagers range from $1 to $25 per game.
Keno vendors must have a valid liquor license and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Vendors get an 8 percent cut, while around 70 percent of the total revenue goes back to the players and 19 percent is set aside for education, according to the lottery commission.
Opponents in various towns have raised concerns surrounding gambling addiction and sanctioning the activity as a way to fund education in lieu of other sources.
Proponents have said keno is a reasonable way to fund education without imposing additional taxes.
Along with Keene, voters in Concord, Dover, Rochester and Portsmouth will vote on keno during their municipal elections Tuesday. Also on the ballot in the Elm City are candidates for mayor, City Council and elections officials.