DENVER (CBS4)- Some state lawmakers are betting that a new lottery game could help Colorado’s economy. A bill proposed at the state Capitol would create a keno game, with money going to create jobs.
Keno is played at restaurants, bars and convenience stores in states like Ohio, Oregon and Maryland but not in Colorado. State Rep. Sal Pace thinks he can change that.
“The purpose of the bill is to generate new money that is not a tax increase,” said Pace, a Democrat from Pueblo.
Pace is proposing a bill that would create one or more keno games, with all the proceeds going to promoting tourism and luring jobs to Colorado.
“This would be run by the Colorado Lottery and all the money would be designated to programs to grow jobs and build the economy,” said Pace.
Katy Atkinson with the Colorado Gaming Association said casinos aren’t exactly keen on the government setting up competition for them.
“If you’re trying to create jobs the way to create them is not to eliminate them elsewhere,” said Atkinson.
In the bill, keno is called a lottery game instead of casino gambling. That circumvents a provision in the state constitution that would have required voters’ approval.
“They play a lot of games with semantics, but if it looks like a slot machine, plays like a slot machine it might as well be a slot machine,” said Atkinson.
Critics worry where the machines will be placed, not just bars, but neighborhood 7-Elevens. While the bill has strong opposition, it also has bipartisan support.
The keno game could generate $12 million a year. Lawmakers said it would not impact current lotto dollars earmarked for things like Great Outdoors Colorado.