All Bets Are Off For Keno Repeal

Apr 22, 2014

Keno was all but repealed two months ago. Connecticut lawmakers seem reluctant to drop the game, and a potential $27 million a year.
Credit purple_onion / Creative Commons

The electronic lottery game keno could come to Connecticut after all. Keno surfaced at the very end of last year's legislative session as a way to balance the new two year budget. But earlier this year, when a $500 million surplus was announced, lawmakers distanced themselves from the bingo-like game, and a bill to repeal keno seemed like a done deal.

As the session draws to a close, many lawmakers are taking a practical approach to the game.

Fast-forward two months, and keno is still the law, and the repeal bill is stuck in a legislative committee.

While keno has virtually no support in the legislature, as the session draws to a close, many lawmakers are taking a practical approach to the game. Democratic State Representative Matt Lesser said, "I don't think there was a whole lot of enthusiasm for this, but right now, it's the law. If we replace it, then the question is, with what?" 

The Connecticut Lottery Corporation said keno could bring in anywhere from $15 to $26 million a year to state coffers when it's up and running. The quasi-public agency said it's nowhere near ready to launch -- not because of the legislature's repeal efforts, but because agreements have not been reached between Connecticut's two Indian casinos and the governor's Office of Policy and Management.

"The Pequot Nation had some issues with specific language," said Frank Farricker, chairman of the board for the Connecticut Lottery Corporation. "Not with the deal itself -- they are working that out with OPM as we speak, I'm sure." He said that once an agreement is reached, it will take six to eight months to get keno into participating bars and restaurants in Connecticut.