Friday, February 26, 2010

Connecticut Committee Of Lawmakers To Hold Hearing On Governor´s Keno Plan

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media is an article in The Day newspaper about a legislative committee hearing that will take place next week on the governor´s intent to raise money for the state by introducing a gambling game called Keno.

Legislative committee to hold hearing on Rell's keno proposal
By Brian Hallenbeck
The Day
February 25, 2010

A state legislative committee will conduct a public hearing on Gov. M. Jodi Rell's plan to introduce keno in bars, restaurants and other locations as a way to generate revenue.

State Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, co-chairwoman of the Public Safety and Security Committee, said Wednesday that her panel has scheduled the hearing for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Room 2D of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. It will be preceded by an "informational forum" featuring state officials and representatives of Connecticut's casino-owning Indian tribes, Stillman said.

Among those expected to attend the forum, set for 11 a.m., are Robert Genuario, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management; Anne Noble, president and CEO of the Connecticut Lottery Corp.; Paul Young, executive director of the Division of Special Revenue; Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Marc Potenza, director of the Problem Gambling Clinic at Yale University. Officials of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes, which own Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino, respectively, also are expected.

Members of the public will have an opportunity to speak at the hearing.

Keno is a game of chance in which players pick a series of numbers and bet they will match numbers randomly drawn by a central computer. Winnings vary with the amount of the wager and the number of drawn numbers a player matches.

Rell first proposed keno last year, then abandoned it. She revived the proposal in her State of the State address this month at the start of the legislative session, projecting the electronic game would provide $20 million for the state in fiscal 2011 and $60 million a year thereafter. The governor's plan allows for "securitizing" future revenues based on the projected income, Stillman said.

"We've got two issues - how do we get to $20 million and how can we properly securitize future revenues when we have no (keno) history," she said. "To me, it's a very blind proposal."

Also at issue is the attorney general's opinion, rendered last year, that the lottery's introduction of keno could violate the state's gaming compacts with the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots, whose casinos are authorized to offer the game. Any breach of the compacts, Blumenthal said, could cause the tribes to withhold the state's share of the slot-machine revenues they win at their casinos.

Rell and some other state officials maintain that keno is a lottery-style game rather a casino game and that it can be introduced by regulation. The tribes have not weighed in on the governor's plan, saying they first need to study the specifics of it.