Debate begins on decreasing time limit between Keno games

Senators began general file debate March 1 on a bill that would amend the five-minute time limit required between Keno games.

As introduced by Wilber Sen. Russ Karpisek, LB1067 would allow a county, city or village conducting a keno lottery to designate a time limit between games of less than five minutes, but not less than one minute.

A pending General Affairs Committee amendment would change the range to between three and five minutes.

Karpisek said the bill would allow communities to choose whether to shorten the time between games and attempt to earn more revenue. Communities use Keno funds to purchase fire engines and police cars, he said, as well as to fund community improvement projects.

“The intent is to try and give the communities a little more income,” he said.

Sen. Paul Lambert of Plattsmouth supported the bill, saying his community had used Keno funds to build a senior center. Other cities have invested in parks and swimming pools, he said.

“Several cities in my district have done a lot with Keno revenue,” Lambert said. “Communities have lost a lot of funds [and] money is tight. This is a very important stream of revenue to make some improvements in a community.”

Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft opposed the bill and the amendment, saying the state should focus on other ways to increase economic activity.

“Gambling is not economic development,” she said. “We need economic development that is not a gamble but has the ability to bring jobs and people … into our communities.”

Imperial Sen. Mark Christensen also opposed the bill. The shortened time between games would divert money to Keno that otherwise would be used to purchase goods in Nebraska communities, he said.

“There is going to be less money spent in our local communities, in our local businesses,” he said.

Karpisek said 14 percent of Keno revenue goes to the game operator and those funds also support the local economy. In addition, he said, Keno operations are located in restaurants and bars where players spend additional dollars.

“These are local businesses that they are spending the money in,” Karpisek said.

The Legislature adjourned for the week before taking action on LB1067.

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