HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut’s House speaker said Wednesday he will work to halt the introduction of keno, a bingo-style game that was authorized by the legislature last year as part of a deal to balance the state budget.
Democratic Rep. Brendan Sharkey of Hamden said before a conference of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns in Cromwell that the revenue from the game is no longer needed.
“Keno was a late addition to the budget last year as a way to help fill a budget hole, but now the revenue is not needed so I don’t see a reason to go forward with it, particularly when it hasn’t even started,” Sharkey said. He noted there was never a “groundswell of support” for keno.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said last week it was not his idea to bring keno terminals to the state and suggested he would sign a bill to repeal the legislation if one reaches his desk. A bill to repeal keno has been introduced by Sen. Andrea Stillman of Waterford.
State Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said Wednesday that he has never supported keno and he shares many of the concerns raised by Stillman and Sharkey.
“Because of Connecticut’s improving fiscal outlook, we can now begin to have a conversation about budget options,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, who originally opposed including Keno in the budget, said he was not surprised Sharkey and Malloy “had a change of heart shortly after a political poll found that the vast majority of Connecticut residents oppose their plan.”
McKinney is a GOP candidate for governor.
The budget deal in the General Assembly last year relied on $31 million in projected revenues from keno over two years. Today, the state has a projected $500 million surplus.
The game is available in supermarkets, gas stations, convenience stores, bars and restaurants in neighboring states, and Connecticut had batted around the idea of introducing it locally for years.
Because both the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes contend they have exclusive rights to such games at their casinos under a compact with the state, the budget bill authorized the tribes to each receive 12.5 percent of keno’s gross operating revenues.
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