Derryfield restaurant Keno proposal goes back to committee

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MANCHESTER, NH – Is Keno coming to the Derryfield Restaurant? Possibly, but not quite yet.

On Tuesday evening, the Manchester Board of Aldermen heard a recommendation by the Manchester Committee on Lands and Building amending the management agreement between the city and the Derryfield Restaurant to allow Keno and other offerings from the New Hampshire Lottery Commission.

That recommendation was tabled, with the Aldermen sending the amendment back to the Committee for additional deliberation.

Upon introducing the recommendation, Mayor Joyce Craig proposed restricting the amendment to just Keno due to the open-endedness of the language surrounding the other possible lottery products. She also recommended that the city share Keno revenues with the Derryfield.

Under New Hampshire law, locations that provide Keno give 92 percent of Keno sales to the state, while keeping eight percent. Under the mayor’s proposal, the state would still get 92 percent of the sales, while the Derryfield would get six percent and the city would get two percent.

The mayor said that this arrangement would be in line with the city’s current revenue sharing agreement with the restaurant, where the restaurant gives 1.5 percent of revenues to the city.

Alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur criticized the mayor’s plan, believing it was unfair to treat the Derryfield Restaurant differently than other restaurants in the city.

Mayor Craig responded with the fact that the Derryfield Restaurant has a unique situation due to their revenue sharing agreement with the city, stemming from a $2.3 million bond issuance in 2003 geared toward renovating the clubhouse building where the restaurant now stands.

Craig also noted that the amendment to the 2003 agreement provided an opportunity to give badly needed additional revenue to the city.

Other Aldermen requested that possible funding go toward reading programs in the city, but there was also a general concern regarding the fact that the mayor’s recommendation caught Derryfield representative Roy Tilsley off guard.

Tilsey told the board he would prefer informal negotiation over an amendment to the agreement, also stating that he was willing to work with the city as long as the restaurant could eventually obtain Keno.

He added that the restaurant’s need to add Keno didn’t stem from the additional revenue as much as the fact that it brought in customers, who are now heading to other nearby restaurants that offer Keno.

The motion to send the matter back to committee was approved unanimously by a voice vote.