Bill to decrease time limit between keno games stalls

A bill that would amend the five-minute time limit required between keno games failed to advance from general file March 5.

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 General Affairs Committee amendment, adopted 26-0, changed the range to between three and five minutes.

Karpisek said the bill would allow communities to choose whether to shorten the time between games in an 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.

“Keno goes to a lot of good projects in everyone’s district,” he said.

Sen. Paul Lambert of Plattsmouth supported the bill, saying his community had used keno funds to build a senior center and a fitness center. Cities are struggling with the recent loss of state funding and are looking for new sources of revenue, he said.

“Let’s go ahead and let the communities decide what they want to do,” Lambert said.

Karpisek introduced, and later withdrew, an amendment that would have required voter approval for any proposed change in the time between keno games. He said the amendment was filed as a concession to those opposed to the bill at the end of the first day of general file debate March 2. However, Karpisek said, he changed his mind about the amendment over the weekend.

“I’ve had time to reflect and I cannot support it,” he said.

Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial then offered an amendment containing the same provision, saying he opposed LB1067 but would want voters to have the final say if the bill passed.

“I still don’t like the bill because I’m against gambling as a whole,” he said.

Christensen said voters should be consulted about any change in keno games, because city council members always would be inclined to vote for new sources of revenue, whether or not it was a good idea.

“If a city can get more money, they’ll spend more money,” he said.

The amendment failed on a 16-16 vote and the bill failed to advance on a 20-17 vote. Twenty-five votes are needed for advancement.

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