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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) --Kentucky has a $30 billion shortfall in its pension plan. The Kentucky Lottery wants to help.
Friday morning, the Board of Directors of the Lottery voted to proceed with plans it believes will allow it to eventually contribute more money to the state.
The vote by the board was unanimous for the lottery staff to begin the process of setting up a new Keno game and internet lottery sales.
Kentucky State Treasurer and Lottery Board member Todd Hollenbach made the motion to proceed with the plans for the new game. "Everybody knows the Commonwealth needs revenues," says Hollenbach. "Nobody wants to raise taxes; what we are doing is offering more opportunities for entertainment dollars."
Last fiscal year, the lottery paid the state a dividend of $215 million. New games should eventually mean more money.
"By 2023, if we get things going without too much of a hitch,"says Hollenbach, "we would be throwing back $85 million in additional dividend to the Commonwealth of Kentucky."
By law, most of the lottery's current dividends now go to college scholarships and grants. Some Kentucky lawmakers, especially in the House, want any additional dividend used to help shore up the pension plan.
But it would only be a partial solution to the current shortfall, admits Hollenbach. "If the legislature chooses to use these revenues for our pension obligation, it would be partial," he says, "it would not cover the whole thing, we have significant pension obligations."
The lottery describes Keno as a game similar to bingo.
"It is a drawing of balls from a field of 80," explains the president of the Kentucky Lottery, Arch Gleason. "The lottery would buy an electronic drawing process, draw 20, and players would choose to play, matching one to ten."
Gleason says 25 percent of the states with a lottery now have Keno.
For players it would be a little different from just spending a moment with a scratch-off. It would require not only a monetary investment, but an investment in time as well.
Says Gleason, "Because the drawings occur on a cycle of every five minutes, the players might choose to play for a period of a half-hour; they might be there for an hour; they might be there for a couple of hours."
The lottery believes Keno could start around the first of next year.