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Hartford (AP) - The state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars is urging lawmakers to continue with plans to allow the gambling game keno in Connecticut.
In written testimony provided to the legislature's Public Safety Committee, Robert Froelick said keno would help sales and increase business in the VFW posts, restaurants and retail establishments. He said those businesses have struggled financially during the recession.
"We feel that by offering Keno, organizations such as ours will be able to attract more members not only from Connecticut, but from bordering states that are near our venues as well," Froelick wrote.
The General Assembly's Public Safety Committee has scheduled a public hearing today to discuss a proposal to stop the planned rollout of keno, which was authorized last year in the two-year budget as a way to generate revenue. Some top politicians, including House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, have recently said they oppose the game and want it repealed.
Sharkey has said the revenue is no longer needed and it makes sense to repeal the lottery-type game before it is implemented. He said there never was a groundswell of support for the game. Rather, it was seen as a way to generate money to help balance the budget.
Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, co-chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee, has said she believes the idea of suddenly stopping keno's rollout partly came up after lawmakers learned the current fiscal year is expected to end June 30 with a $505 million surplus. Deficits, however, are projected in future budget years.
Connecticut has batted around the idea of setting up Keno for years. In 2013, the legislature's majority Democrats reached a two-year, $44 billion budget deal with fellow Democrat Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that relied on $31 million in projected revenues from Keno over two years.
Since then, the state's quasi-public Connecticut Lottery Corporation has been working to roll out Keno, possibly by the fall. The game would likely be located in bars and restaurants.