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Lottery Chairman Thinks There’s Hope For Keno

by Hugh McQuaid | Mar 4, 2014 6:29pm
(4) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Gaming

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Frank Farricker, chairman of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation’s board of directors

Despite widespread political support for repealing keno this year, the chairman of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation’s board of directors said Tuesday he’s still optimistic lawmakers will choose to allow the corporation to implement the game.

“Absolutely not,” Frank Farricker said when asked if keno was bound for repeal this year. “I think that many people are discovering or remembering or referring back to the fact that this is a lottery game and this is something that is positive for raising revenue for the state.”

Keno was added to last year’s budget as a revenue generator late in the session and to the surprise of many lawmakers. It was passed without the benefit of a public hearing. This year, the state has an estimated $504 million surplus and lawmakers are considering a bill to scrap the state’s plan to implement keno.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey favors repealing the game, Sen. President Donald Williams has said he welcomes the conversation, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has indicated he would sign such a repeal if it were passed.

Farricker testified at a public hearing Tuesday before the Public Safety Committee, which is considering a repeal bill. He told lawmakers that the Connecticut Lottery Corporation has already spent about $50,000 preparing for the game and believed it was well-situated to implement it.

“I believe that we have keno positioned in a responsible way,” he said. “. . . Keno is in an excellent position for launch.”

Many lawmakers on the Public Safety Committee were critical of the game and the prospect of its implementation in Connecticut. Rep. Steven Mikutel, D-Griswold, called keno’s legalization in last year’s budget “the most distasteful rat” he had ever voted for.

“We’re finally having a public hearing and debate about repealing it because the people of Connecticut have told their legislators that they don’t like what we did and they don’t want to see Connecticut engage in a significant and dangerous expansion of state-sponsored gambling,” Mikutel said.

However, Farricker said that keno is not a new consideration for the Connecticut Lottery Corporation. He said the issue came up at his first meeting as chairman of the board in 2011 and has been keeping tabs on the game for much longer. Since 2011, Farricker said the Malloy administration requested that the lottery corporation estimate the revenue impact of the legalization of keno “at least three or four times.”

During his testimony, Farricker sought to align keno with other types of lottery games and resisted the idea presented by lawmakers that the bingo-like game’s video elements will appeal to the state’s children and young people.

“Keno is a lottery game . . . It’s the exact same experience of playing the lottery that has existed since the 70s,” he said.

Rep. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, disagreed. He said he has been in restaurants in states where keno is legal and watched the game’s video displays.

“You have a multicolor, dancing ball that is visually queued to capture the attention of vendors in your restaurant. It is not a static experience,” he said. “You’ve got young children, all of the sudden in the middle of a meal, being entranced by a colorful screen.”

Hugh McQuaid Photo Rep. Daniel Rovero, D-Dayville, said he had never seen children captivated by keno in other states. He said that gambling is already present in Connecticut and represents income for the state.

“I don’t like gambling . . . but I might be the only friend you have sitting here,” he told Farricker. “Gambling is already here and unless somebody can prove to me how it’s going to make a bad situation worse, I’ve got to say, I’m not against putting keno into restaurants.”

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(4) Comments

posted by: CTLotterywatchdog | March 4, 2014  8:25pm

Just like the gambling addicts who are hopping for the big winners, the lottery chairman think they are going to hit big by bringing Keno. Gambling ruins families, and they know. Shame on them.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | March 5, 2014  12:40am

DrHunterSThompson

Farricker is right.  Keno is just another game. It is not going to bring a whole new crowd to gambling, they already are here and wasting money. Either repeal all lotto and gambling, or get off the white horse. The arguments are grandstanding and pandering, they all need to get real - no one is buying their sudden come to Jesus stance.

HST

posted by: dano860 | March 5, 2014  9:23am

HST is correct, pandering!
Rep. Dan Rovero has seen plenty of dollars leave the borders going to Mass. and R.I. 
I have first hand experience with my grandchildren getting caught up in the hype of the game though. They like picking the numbers and the intensity of waiting for the numbers to pop up.
The LED or HD screen makes for an exciting and flashy experience.
A majority of the places that offer Keno have gaudy signs on the outside, they are more bar like than restaurant like so customers can readily avoid them should they desire a hawker like, gambling free environment.
It is just another form of offering false hope to the lower end of our society, the ones that can least afford it.

posted by: Historian | March 6, 2014  9:37am

A lottery is simply legal stealing.
The odds are similar to those finding a money filled wallet in the street.  A state lottery gives really dumb people the idea that it is honest and fair.  They end up spending massive portions of their limited income trying to hit the “jackpot” and the politicians get “free” taxes to bribe voters to reelect them.
  It is not harmless but a serious indicator of the moral and physical decline of our state and nation..