By Barbara Tetreault
BERLIN — Berlin was one of seven cities across the state that voted Tuesday to allow the lottery game keno to be played at city bars and restaurants.
The city council threw its support behind the referendum and it passed by a wide margin, 1,063 to 407.
Along with Berlin, Claremont, Laconia, Manchester, Nashua, Rochester and Somersworth all voted to allow it. Voters in Concord, Dover, Keene, and Portsmouth rejected the measure.
“Voters have now had their say on Keno 603 in a number of cities across the state,” said N.H. Lottery Director of Marketing Maura McCann. “We are pleased that seven out of 10 of these cities have decided to support the new lottery game in order to help fund public kindergarten. The most important part of this process is that local citizens have had the chance to decide what they want for their communities.”
The Legislature this June approved keno as a revenue source to help fund the cost of full-day kindergarten, which Berlin already provides.
Each community must vote on whether to allow keno although the funds are distributed to each community with full-day kindergarten regardless of whether they allow keno. Starting in 2019, the state is promising an additional $1,100 per child, for a total of $2,900 per student. During discussions about allowing the game, Berlin Superintendent of Schools Corinne Cascadden said it would mean approximately an additional $99,000 for the city.
During each Keno 603 game, players choose from one to 12 numbers, and every five minutes a computer randomly generates and displays 20 winning numbers from 1 to 80 on a video monitor. A player may place a wager from $1 to $25 per game. The more numbers players match, the more they win. Approved establishments could offer Keno 603 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days per week and only those 18 or older would be allowed to play. The legislature stipulates keno must be played in “pouring establishments” that serve liquor.
Keno 603 retailers will be paid an 8 percent sales commission — the highest in the country — as well as additional bonuses. Along with Keno 603, licensed businesses would be able to sell all of the other available lottery games.
Dozens of towns will decide on bringing Keno 603 to their communities at March town meetings.
To learn more about Keno 603 and to apply to become a retailer go to nhlottery.com/keno.