Nebraska cities plead for mobile keno

Keno has been offered in Nebraska for decades.
Keno has been offered in Nebraska for decades.

Cities in Nebraska are concerned that casinos will eat into keno revenues which are used to fund community projects.

US.- Cities in Nebraska have requested state lawmakers to allow citizens to play keno using mobile devices to help keno venues compete with casinos, which were legalised in the state on the November 2020 ballot.

Keno, a lottery-like game, has been available to gamblers in Nebraska for decades, but some now fear its revenues will be at threat from newly legalised casinos, which are set to open next year.

According to Bellevue City finance director Richard Severson, keno has generated $7.5m in local revenue over the past decade.

Speaking to the Legislature’s General Affairs Committee, he added that the revenue was useful to the local area especially since it was obtained without having to raise taxes.

Ralston city administrator Rick Hoppe added that with less keno revenue, his city may struggle to pay for an arena project, while Omaha lobbyist Jack Cheloha said his city uses keno revenues to buy police cars and for the lease payment on its baseball arena.

The cities hope that lawmakers will make mobile keno part of a larger gambling bill that would facilitate a keno app. The app would be linked to players’ bank accounts and would only be able to be used on the premises of properties that offer keno.

Mobile keno faces opposition

But the proposal to write mobile keno into gambling law has faced some opposition within the legislature and beyond.

Some lawmakers have raised concerns that an app would encourage problem gambling, while others criticised the suggestion on the grounds that there is no guarantee that casinos will harm keno revenues.

On top of the criticism within the legislature, Nate Grasz from the Nebraska Family Alliance has voiced concern that mobile keno would harm the poorest citizens in the state.

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