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Could Keno come to Milton? Numbers at a March vote could tell the tale

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MILTON - The owner of Three Ponds Tavern said today he'd like to have Keno gambling if it's approved by Milton voters in March.

"I'd be very interested," tavern owner Gary Poole said today.

Selectmen have arranged for a New Hampshire Lottery official to come to one of their meetings next month to explain to selectmen and residents more about how the game works.

Milton Selectmen Chair Andy Rawson said on Friday that he's all for it, because it will help fund all-day kindergarten, "which can be very expensive."

Milton Three Ponds Tavern is one of just two pouring establishments in town that could run the game; the other is the Milton Moose, a private club and fraternal organization that includes a social quarters where beer and liquor is served.

Dave Barca, governor of the Milton Moose, said earlier this week club officers and membership had not discussed the possibility of hosting Keno gambling, but said when the time comes they will have a discussion and make a decision.

The Keno system draws 20 numbers from a field of 80 numbers every four minutes.
Players select from 1 to 12 numbers or "spots" for each game. A computer then randomly chooses 20 winning numbers from 1 to 80 and displays them on a Keno monitor.

Payoffs range from a few bucks to a million depending on how many numbers are chosen and show up on a special screen.

In New Hampshire the game would be available at licensed bars and taverns from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Passed earlier this year, New Hampshire's Keno for kindergarten bill gives cities and towns across New Hampshire the right to allow Keno gambling with all profits from the game deposited in the education trust fund in order to provide grants to full-time kindergarten students.

Kelly Cleland of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission said during a public hearing in Rochester in September that Keno would return some $9 million to state education coffers.

She said establishments that carry the game would pay a $500 license fee and would be paid an 8 percent commission rate on all Keno sales.

Cleland also estimated about $1,100 would be offered in assistance to each kindergarten students through the education trust fund.

She also noted that Massachusetts, which has been offering Keno for more than 20 years, brought in about $990 million last year, with about 2.5 percent of that money coming from New Hampshire residents that drove south to play at bars and taverns in the Bay State.

Rawson said if selectmen vote to put it on the ballot, there would be a public hearing first to get input and feedback from residents.

"It's not for us to decide, Milton residents should vote on it," Rawson said.

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