Feb 19, 2014
09:37 AM
Connecticut Politics

House Speaker Calls for Repeal of Keno

More leading legislators are calling for the repeal of Keno.

Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, Wednesday called for the legislature to repeal the law permitting the electronic-lottery game.  The legislature passed a law last year permitting the game as a way to fill a budget deficit.

Keno has not been implemented yet.

“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 in a news release. “There was never really a groundswell of support for Keno—it was simply a revenue option that was put on the table during budget negotiations at the time and was acceptable to the Governor.”

Sharkey joins other officials in calling for Keno's repeal. Senate minority leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield and House minority leader Larry Cafero, R-Norwalk called for the state to repeal it.

McKinney, who is running for governor, issued this statement Wednesday: “I opposed the legalization of Keno from the moment it was introduced by the speaker and senate president and signed into law by Governor Malloy. It is not surprising that the governor and speaker had a change of heart shortly after a political poll found that the vast majority of Connecticut residents oppose their plan. But, regardless of their motivation, it is in Connecticut’s best interest to stop Keno.” 

CT News Junkie reports last week state Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-New London, also called for the legislature to repeal Keno and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy then said the decision was up to the legislature.

According to News Junkie:

"Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who signed keno into law when he signed the state budget last June, said Wednesday that keno wasn’t his idea and he didn’t have an opinion on whether it should be repealed.

“The legislature’s got a job to do,” Malloy said. “This was not done by me.”

Wednesday, Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba issued this statement: “Every budget is about making compromises.  Last session, the Governor's goal was to pass a budget that continued to invest in job creation and public education, and to do it without raising taxes.  Working with Democratic leadership, that’s exactly what we accomplished. But we had to agree to Keno and other compromises to get it.  It's good news that our economic recovery and state revenues have improved enough that we can consider this item now.”

Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn,  released a statement on the issue and said because of "Connecticut’s improving fiscal outlook, we can now begin to have a conversation about budget options.

"I think that it’s well known that I’ve have never been a supporter of Keno and I share many of the concerns first raised by Senator Stillman and now Speaker Sharkey. I look forward to discussing this, as the session progresses, with the members of my caucus.”

As part of the deal to introduce Keno, Connecticut's two Indian tribes were to receive 12.5 percent of the profits. An official in the Office of Policy and Management today said the state had drafted an agreement with the tribes and were waiting their approval of the agreement.

Kevin Brown, chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, said they have taken the position both during the time when the state considered Keno and now, that it is a state decision.

“To repeal legislation is the state’s decision, not ours…we were very pleased with the fact that a decision had been made, but we’ll just have to wait and see what ultimately comes of it,” Brown said.

Brown also said the tribe had not begun preparing for any kind of profit from Keno, so its budgeting will not be affected should the state repeal it -- though the tribe has been ready and wating for it to happen.

“We were fully postured and supportive of the route, we were ready for this thing to be approved, and there was really no more discussion to be had,” he said. “If the repeal doesn’t play out, obviously that’s better for us, but really this is a state decision from which we’ll either be the beneficiary or not.”

House Speaker Calls for Repeal of Keno

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