Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, proposed legislation this week that would repeal the state’s movement toward establishing the game of keno.
Keno was adopted last year as part of the state budget. It was expected to generate about $3.8 million in revenue this year and another $27 million in the following year. Those numbers have since been lowered by budget analysts to $13.5 million over two years.
“There’s no need to expand gambling in the state,” Stillman said Wednesday.
Last September, officials with the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, which was put in charge of establishing the game, said it would be offered at around 600 retail locations in the state. However, those locations wouldn’t be allowed to offer the game until the Office of Policy and Management inked a deal with the two Indian tribes. Just last week, an official with the Office of Policy and Management said it was close to completing the deal.
The tribes, which have exclusive gaming rights in Connecticut, will split 25 percent of all the keno revenues (less the prize money) from the state for agreeing to allow the game to be played outside the reservation.
Stillman said she hopes there’s enough legislative support to eliminate the game before it even begins.
“I think it’s time to say ‘nevermind’,” Stillman said citing a 2010 Quinnipiac University poll that found 70 percent of Connecticut voters opposed keno. The opposition came from all political groups.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who signed keno into law when he signed the state budget last June, said Wednesday that keno wasn’t his idea and he didn’t have an opinion on whether it should be repealed.
“The legislature’s got a job to do,” Malloy said. “This was not done by me.”
Keno was brought to the table after lawmakers killed Malloy’s plans to sell consumers’ electric bills to the highest bidder.
When it comes to keno, Malloy said his administration would do whatever it’s asked to do by the legislature.
“I will point out that keno is ubiquitous and is frequently run by lottery corporations in other states, but that’s a political decision,” Malloy said. “But I’m not a person who proposed keno.”
He said there seems to be agreement between the state and the tribes regarding revenue-sharing, but it still has to be formalized by at least one of the tribes.
Last week, Republican lawmakers said they also would like to get rid of keno.
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said last week that he planned to introduce legislation to repeal keno.
“I see no need for the state to go forward with this,” said McKinney, a gubernatorial candidate.
And if anything the drop over the past few years in slot revenue should show lawmakers that “gambling is not a reliable, stable form of revenue or economic development,” McKinney said.
But Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said last week that he’s not in favor of repeal.
Expanding gambling was not “ideal,” but it was necessary in order to balance the budget last year, William said. Asked if it would be something he would look to get rid of, Williams said the state needs a “reliable revenue stream.”