Little more than a week after several New Hampshire towns approved keno, the gambling game is already up and running in restaurants, bars and other southern New Hampshire businesses.
Citizens in Danville, Derry, Newton, Pelham, Plaistow and Salem approved keno operations March 13. In all, more than 60 communities in New Hampshire now allow keno. Local businesses can apply with the state's lottery commission to use the gambling machines in their stores.
Keno players choose one to 12 numbers between 1 and 80, and place a bet between $1 and $25. The game machine randomly picks 20 winning numbers, and the more numbers that match the player's picks, the more money the person wins, according to the New Hampshire Lottery.
Any business that has a liquor-pouring license — like a restaurant, hotel, bar or war veterans club — can apply for a keno machine from the state lottery. The organization stated that the application process takes at least four weeks.
The New Hampshire Lottery Commission has already received a dozen applications from local businesses, several of which have been processed, according to the a commission.
Plaistow-based Crow's Nest Pub and Grill is one of the businesses that will be introducing keno in the coming months. Owner Chochise Kasabian said she is hoping it will increase her revenue, and that customers have inquired if she'll bring it to the pub.
The 50-plus establishments currently offering keno have brought in more than $2.8 million in the last few months. Granite State residents spend around $25 million on keno in Massachusetts, according to the New Hampshire Lottery.
New Hampshire keno retailers receive an 8 percent sales commission, which is the highest in the country, according to the state lottery.
Some businesses like Cheers Poker Room and Casino in Salem, however, have decided against adding the new game.
"Our site plan and approval is very strict and businesses need to provide parking for any change of use, so we will not be adding business further than what was approved by the town of Salem regulatory agencies," owner Daniel Dandreo said.
Competing poker room Chasers will also not be introducing keno, but for differing reasons.
"Poker rooms are allowed in New Hampshire because they're charity-based. We would rather our customers play poker to raise money for the charities. While the keno money does go to kindergarten and is good on its own, it would absolutely harm our charities," Chaser's co-owner Lisa Withrow said.
Four businesses have applied for the game in Salem.
Businesses in Windham had expressed interest in adding keno to their operations, according to Selectman Bruce Breton, but the town did not vote on keno last week. It was not added to the ballot, however, because Town Administrator David Sullivan mistakenly stated that it could only be added through a citizen petition with at least 25 signatures.
Breton told The Eagle-Tribune that he is planning on adding it to the 2019 ballot.
Atkinson Selectman Jason Grosky said that he could only think of one or two businesses in his town that were eligible for keno, and that neither voiced a desire for the gambling game.
"For our purposes, no one ever asked to put it forward... There's just no demand for it," Grosky said. "I could certainly see in a place like Plaistow or Salem, it being something in demand."
Municipalities did not need to approve keno within their borders to receive additional kindergarten funding from the state.
School districts throughout New Hampshire will start receiving an additional $1,100 per kindergarten student at the start of the 2018-2019 school year.