Connecticut announces keno agreement with 2 tribes

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut announced Tuesday it has reached a deal with the two federally recognized Indian tribes in the state that will allow it to begin offering the gambling game keno in the coming year.

Under the agreement with the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation would be able to offer the game of chance at the lottery’s nearly 3,000 retailers and potentially 600 new retailers that run bars and restaurants. In return, each tribe receives 12.5 percent of the new game’s gross operating revenues.

“The recruitment efforts will begin in earnest,” said Anne Noble, the lottery’s president. “We know there are retailers out there who are especially interested in joining the lottery team because of keno and we want them to join now.”

It’s unclear how much keno will produce in revenue for the state budget. The lottery currently generates about $1.1 billion in gross sales annually, and Noble said keno could eventually make up a third of the lottery’s portfolio.

“Keno has a lot of potential, but it’s something that grows over time,” said Noble, adding how she would be very pleased if the lottery experienced about $50 million in keno sales next fiscal year, before expenses, prize money and the tribal shares are taken into consideration.

Ben Barnes, the secretary of the state’s Office of Policy of Management, said the agreements with the two tribes were the result of “productive and cooperative negotiations” and represent “the next step forward in bringing keno to the state.” The tribes would still be able to offer keno at their gambling facilities, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino.

The lottery asked lawmakers earlier this year for the ability to offer keno as a way to diversify its gambling offerings. The game has been considered and debated for years. It appeared in 2013 that Connecticut would finally join its neighbors and offer keno but the General Assembly later repealed the provision.

Keno is a lottery-type game where numbers are typically drawn every four minutes. Keno monitors will be located in businesses “where it’s suitable,” Noble said.

She said the lottery is designing its advertising and marketing campaign and developing software. It also is designing a responsible gambling campaign that will be unveiled when keno is launched in Connecticut.

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