Voters in Broken Bow narrowly approved permitting keno in local establishments in a referendum on December 18th, 2009. According to the unofficial vote results from the Custer County Election Commissioner's Office, 169 voters voted yes to allowing the game of keno and 128 voters voted no.
The overall voter turnout rate was 11%. Broken Bow City Administrator Tony Tolstedt said that he was very happy with the results of the election. Tolstedt said that he is very happy that the public came out to vote on the issue. The owner of Huckleberry's Hideout in Broken Bow, Jeremy Howard said that he is also happy with the result of the elections.
Howard said that over the past few months, they did not notice any opposition to the keno plan from their customers. State statutes permit cities to become licensing agents for the game of keno as a source of revenue for city improvements.
As licensing agents, cities will keep a percentage of the earnings from the game. Broken Bow could get nine percent to eighteen percent of what is wagered by the players. Tolstedt said that the city plans to use the earnings from keno to repair the Broken Bow's 36 year-old swimming pool and allow the city some space in constructing a new swimming pool.
Broken Bow spent about $250,000 in 2005 to repair the west wall of the swimming pool and made some repairs to the cracks and the heating system of the pool in the past few years. Earlier this month, the Broken Bow board learned from the city's engineers that because of the changes in the federal filtration laws for flow rates, the swimming pool will be out of compliance next year and could be shutdown.
Tolstedt said that with the amount of remodeling the swimming pool needs, it may be more cost efficient to construct a new one. Tolstedt said that he is not sure how much revenue the game might produce but he said that estimates range from $20,000 to $100,000 annually.
Keno is already offered in about 150 towns in Nebraska. According to the Nebraska Department of Revenue, in 2008, players wagered $496,000 in St. Paul, $178,000 in Holdrege, $307,000 in McCook and $191,000 in Elm Creek.
Tolstedt said that it will depend on how much players wager and the luck of the draw on what is won by the player. He added that the revenue will also be based on play so they cannot really rely on the game for their operations and they will only use revenues from the game for the pool.