Franklin Becomes First N.H. Town to OK Keno

  • Bonnie Richardson who works VFW Post 1698 in Franklin discusses the thought of keno possibly coming to the Post on October 4, 2107. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • President Sally Bussier of the non-profit Thrift Clothes Closet on Main Street in Franklin talks about the thought of the keno coming to Franklin. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Manager Holly Frederick of JJ’s Wood Fired Pizza in Franklin says her boss is happy the keno is coming to Franklin. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Bonnie Richardson who works VFW Post 1698 in Franklin discusses the thought of keno possibly coming to the Post on October 4, 2107. Concord Monitor — Geoff Forester

  • Manager Holly Frederick of JJ’s Wood Fired Pizza in Franklin says her boss is happy the keno is coming to Franklin. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Concord Monitor
Published: 10/5/2017 12:35:19 AM
Modified: 10/5/2017 12:35:19 AM

Franklin, n.h. — VFW bartender Bonnie Richardson has no doubt she’ll be seeing keno at her workplace soon.

“We’re getting it,” she said Wednesday from behind the bar. “There’s no one in here I’ve heard that doesn’t want it. It’s all positivity.”

Franklin became the first municipality in the state to approve the gambling game keno during a citywide election in Franklin on Tuesday. It passed in all three wards with about 60 percent of the vote.

New Hampshire Lottery officials said last August that eight locations in Franklin have liquor licenses that qualified them to allow keno, which is similar to an electronic form of bingo. Now, it’s up to vendors who qualify to make arrangements with the state to get keno machines installed, which could be in place as early as December.

Richardson said that the governing body of the VFW will officially decided whether to apply to get keno at its Oct. 18. meeting. She said doesn’t anticipate any problems.

“It’s already here,” she said. “It just has to walk through the door.”

Most of those stores that qualify have already received informational postcards from the state detailing their options.

JJ’s Woodfired Pizza is one of them. Owner Jim Gale said he’s already let the state know he wants to participate.

“I told them I’m willing to be a test mule, if they need it,” Gale said. “We’re very excited.”

The owners of establishments applying for keno will be subject to a background check and will have to pay an annual $500 licensing fee, according to the New Hampshire Lottery Commission.

These locations will keep 8 percent of every dollar spent on the KENO 603 game, according to the Lottery Commission. They also can earn bonuses — capped at $75,000 — for selling a KENO 603 prize of $10,000 and greater.

The idea of keno was pitched as a way to fund statewide full-day kindergarten.

The state projects keno could supply $9 million in revenue.

State legislators legalized keno last year and left the decision to allow the game to each municipality’s residents or elected officials must pass keno at the ballot box in order for the game to be played within a town’s borders, but no school’s kindergarten funding is contingent on the town’s vote.

Starting next school year, every school with a full-day program will get an extra $1,100 per kindergartner, regardless of whether they allow keno or not. If keno revenues exceed expectations, however, schools statewide may receive more.

New Hampshire Lottery’s Director of Marketing Maura McCann said none of the eight Franklin establishments signed up for keno on Tuesday and she wouldn’t reveal which businesses and social clubs qualify. Once applications are processed, she said the commission is looking to install the first games in stores by mid-December.

The news drew mixed reactions from Franklin residents. Sally Bussiere, who was volunteering at the nonprofit Thrift Clothes Closet on Wednesday, said she doesn’t see how keno could hurt the city.

“We already have some forms of gambling in the state — we have scratch tickets, powerball — those have brought revenue to the state,” she said.

Mary Foley said she didn’t vote for keno because she didn’t want to “add fuel to the fire.”

“I’ve seen too many people with addictions, it just seems like another one,” she said. “It just seems like there should be other ways support education, rather than by gambling and cigarettes and booze.”

As J.J.’s pizzeria, customer Tom O’Connor said he is a keno enthusiast, who regularly travels to Massachusetts to play the game.

“I think it’s good,” O’Connor said. “And if it’s going to help schools, why not?”

Franklin was just the first in New Hampshire to vote on the keno game. Ten more cities will make a decision on keno during elections on Nov. 7.




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