Council approves keno contract on 3-2 vote

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The McCook City Council narrowly approved a keno contract with a Hastings operator Monday night, with one side citing ethics and the other the voice of the people.

By 3 to 2, the council voted to offer an amended contract with Hastings Keno, with Mayor Dennis Berry and Councilman Jim Kenny voting against it and Councilmen Bill Longnecker, Aaron Kircher and Phil Lyons voting for it.

Although the revenue generated by the lottery game would be nice for the city budget, Mayor Berry said that research has shown the adverse effects of the lottery game and that McCook has "survived this long without it."

Councilman Lyons argued that regardless of what he or other council members personally thought about gambling, McCook residents voted to approve the game by nearly 2 to 1. Keno has not been operated in the city since 1998.

Councilman Longnecker agreed, and referred to the recent Red Willow County court cases in which several local restaurant owners were charged with operating gambling devices in their establishments.

"When there's a will, there's a way," he said.

Voters are trusting us to carry out what they want, Councilman Kicher added, and if they decide at a future date not to have Keno in the city, he would vote accordingly.

But Berry disagreed and stated, "I'm representing those who voted against this."

Michael Nevrivy, owner of Hastings Keno, said his company operates in six communities, including Holdrege and North Platte, and that he works at advertising the game locally and within the establishment. His company provides the latest technology in the games, auditing every location once a month using a five-level security system.

"There is great potential here," he told the council.

In response to a question by Kenny, Nevrivy said that as operator he would receive 14 percent of the gross revenue. Councilmen Lyons and Kenny expressed concern that the city would be receiving so much less than the operator, at 5 percent, with Lyons saying he would like to see more money stay in McCook.

Nevrivy said the 14 percent goes toward the costs of equipment and insurance, with up to 6 percent of that going toward the sales outlet.

Councilman Lyons clarified that up to 6 percent could go to the sales outlet, but that they could settle for as little as four percent if they wanted it badly enough.

The council voted to extend the amended contract to Nevereve with 13 percent going to the operator, which City Attorney Rhonda Vetrovsky will forward to the operator and report back to the city with the results.

Concerning work on the roof at the public library, Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff said there is $45,000 to $50,000 budgeted for repairs. Greg Wolford of W Design, engineer for the project, said there has been leaking and that if insulation has been damaged, they will have to replace the roof.

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