Keno gambling up for vote in 10 New Hampshire cities

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Voters in 10 New Hampshire cities headed to the polls Tuesday to decide on allowing the electronic bingo game keno in bars and restaurants in an effort to raise money for full-day kindergarten.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed a proposal into law in July allowing money from keno to fund kindergarten programs. He left it up to individual communities to decide whether to allow it. Towns will consider it next year.

Voters in Franklin already had their election on a ballot measure last month, and approved keno. Officials in Portsmouth decided against putting it on the ballot.

Nearly 75 percent of New Hampshire communities already offer full-day kindergarten, but the state only pays half the standard per-student amount for those pupils, or about $1,800. Under the new law, the state will provide an additional $1,100 per full-day kindergarten student starting in 2019 and more in later years, depending on how much money is generated by keno.

Some opponents complain that keno will take money from those who can least afford it and will encourage addictive behavior.

State lottery commission officials estimate keno could raise $443 million for education. They said Massachusetts takes in $900 million a year in its keno game, with 2.5 percent of the money coming from New Hampshire residents.

A number of cities also are holding elections for mayor, such as Manchester, where incumbent Republican Ted Gatsas once again faces Democrat Joyce Craig. Gatsas has served four, two-year terms.

This is the first general election in New Hampshire under a new state law requiring voters who move to the state within 30 days of an election to provide proof that they intend to stay. Democrats have challenged it in court, arguing it presents confusing, unnecessary and intimidating hurdles to voting. A state judge allowed the law to take effect, but blocked penalties of a fine and jail time for fraud, saying he wants to hear arguments in the case.

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