Senator Proposes Two Keno Bills, Gambling Counselors Worried

By: Stephanie Morrissey Email
By: Stephanie Morrissey Email

The balance between making money and gambling addiction will once again be debated.

Some Nebraska lawmakers believe Keno can raise more for city projects than it currently does, if they make some changes.

Hogwild, Quarter Mania and Big Bang. If one local senator get his way, you won't have to wait as long to play these Keno games.

Three minutes. That's how long Senator Russ Karpisek thinks players should wait between keno games.

"Some of the argument why people don't play Keno is it's too slow, it's boring," Karpisek said.

It's not a huge jump from the current five minute wait, but Karpisek says the more games people play, the more money for that town and less tax dollars out of your pocket.

"Cities are the ones that usually benefit from Keno. It has to go to things like public safety. Some communities use it to buy police cars or fire engines. Wilber uses it for the parks department," Karpisek said.

Bill Harvey of Big Red Keno supports the measure saying Keno rules need to keep up with changing trends.

"The five minute rule was set down about 25 years ago when Keno started in Nebraska. It's kind of an arbitrary time now," Harvey said.

It's the additional play that has some gambling addiction centers worried.

"If they go faster and faster, they can lose ability to make good decisions," said Gary Cornish, Choices Treatment Center.

"You'd have less time to think between games, less time to think about consequences. Do I really have this much money to spend?" said Jeremy Eberle, Choices Treatment Center.

"Obviously, we're concerned about addicted gamblers. There are other ways people can spend and lose their money. They can play lottery or go to casinos," Karpisek said.

The bill's opponents believe the time change would expand gambling but Karpisek says it's just changing the parameters of game lots of people already play.

Karpisek knows this bill is controversial. Organizations supporting both sides showed up during a hearing Monday afternoon. It's a sign there will lots of debate before a final decision is made.


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