Keno Game Makes Its Way Into Two More New Hampshire Communities

Written By Veronica Sparks on April 6, 2022
NH Communities Are Voting In Keno

Earlier in March, both Deerfield and Plymouth voted to officially allow Keno in their New Hampshire communities. New Hampshire Lottery runs this bingo-like gambling game, and is now available in 91 total communities in the state.

What is Keno?

The New Hampshire Lottery  describes how Keno is played as follows:

“During each KENO 603 game, players choose from one to 12 numbers, and every five minutes (11:05 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.) a computer randomly generates and displays 20 winning numbers from one to 80 on a television monitor. A player may place a wager from $1 to $25 per game. The more numbers players match, the more they win.”

Where does the money go?

In Granite State communities where Keno is already voted in and legalized, bars and restaurants can apply for a license to house state-provided keno equipment.

According to Citizen’s Count, establishments must already have a liquor license and they have to pay a $500 annual license fee for Keno.

Once equipment is up and running, the establishment can begin selling the game. They keep only 8% of revenue and the state puts 91% of all Keno revenue toward school funding.

Most notably, Keno sales almost entirely fund programs for fullday kindergarten in the state. Prior to 2017 when the state legalized the gambling game, only half-day kindergarten programs existed in NH.

The remaining 1% of the revenue from Keno sales goes toward the state’s gambling addiction, treatment, and prevention programs.

What supporters of Keno gambling game in New Hampshire are saying

The biggest benefit quoted by communities and New Hampshire voters who support allowing the Keno game in their local bars and restaurants is revenue.

So far, the addition of a Keno game at an establishment has led to more revenue for the individual business. It also means more money for the state’s coffers and New Hampshire education programs, since the majority of the game’s revenue benefits those programs.

In fact, Keno has already generated almost $148 million in sales over a five-year period. These sales reached $36 million this past fiscal year alone.

Support is growing, but the game has seen adversity in NH

The state of New Hampshire legalized the gambling game back in 2017. However, the state left it up to local communities to vote on whether it would be available in their establishments.

Many NH communities opened their doors to Keno in the first two years of legalization, and 84 cities and towns had voted the gambling game in by March of 2019.

Opponents of adding the game in NH communities, however, say the game takes advantage of those with gambling addictions. In fact, several bills are struggling in New Hampshire’s State House against the spread of Keno.

For example, HB 184 and SB 266 proposed kindergarten funding be boosted from other sources so that the state didn’t need to depend on Keno sales.

Deerfield voted it in by a small margin

While it is now one of almost 100 NH communities with Keno available, Deerfield voters haven’t taken the addition of the gambling game lightly. Back in 2019, the town voted on allowing Keno for the first time.

Opposing voters shot down the proposed article by a mere 107 votes.

On March 8 of this year, however, voters showed up again and finally decided in favor of allowing the Keno gambling game. Supporters beat out opponents by a slim, 22 vote margin.

“With voters in Deerfield and Plymouth approving KENO 603,” said New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director, Charlie McIntyre. “The New Hampshire Lottery is pleased to be able to continue expanding the game, which is currently offered in more than 200 establishments statewide.”

Where will Keno be available in Deerfield and Plymouth?

In Deerfield, only three existing establishments are eligible to apply for an annual Keno license. The three businesses are:

  • Hoague-Batchelder American Legion Post 103
  • Ma’s Place
  • The Nine Lions Tavern

These establishments are optimistic about the positive effects Keno will have on their business and the state.

“We are moving forward with it and are very excited.” Said Courtney Torre, manager of The Nine Lions Tavern. “We have the full application and fee being dropped off in Concord today.”

Torre explained that there are a few steps to getting Keno rolling in any establishments. Most notably, the business is inspected and the employees are put through a Keno training program.

She is optimistic that Keno will be live at Nine Lions within a couple of months.

Cathy Francoeur runs Mas Café & Tavern, and while she hasn’t yet applied and paid for a license, she says she plans to move forward soon.

“We are very excited to bring KENO to our tavern side,” she said. “I’m so happy it was voted in.”

As Plymouth goes, there is a much bigger pool of establishments eligible to apply for a Keno operating license. Upwards of 12 businesses could soon be offering Keno 603 in the town.

Conway may be the next NH community with Keno

An upcoming vote on April 12 will take place in Conway. This vote doesn’t only determine whether Keno is legally offered in Conway establishments. It also determines if a NH retail sportsbook has permission to open.

Between Conway and North Conway, there are more than a whopping 40 businesses that would be eligible to apply for Keno 603 operating licenses.

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