AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage has scuttled his administration’s plan to expand the Maine State Lottery to include Keno, but state lawmakers want to make sure that any future proposals to add the game are vetted by the Legislature first.

The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to endorse a bill that would require the state’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations submit legislation if it wants to add Keno to the state’s gambling offerings.

The bureau now has the authority to introduce new draw games and scratch tickets without legislative approval. It also has the authority to expand lottery games to include Keno.

The administration’s proposal drew concerns from Republicans and Democrats, who viewed the game as a significant departure from traditional draw games like scratch tickets and Powerball. Some worried that the game would transform restaurants and convenience stores into mini-casinos.

In Keno, a player selects 10 out of 80 numbers for cash prizes. The LePage administration had proposed having drawings every four minutes, and estimated that the state would receive $8.7 million in general fund revenue during the first year of operation.

Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, said he believed the governor when he announced Tuesday that the administration was abandoning the Keno initiative. However, Luchini said, lawmakers on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee want to be certain that future initiatives will require legislative approval.

The administration asked the committee to reject the bill, L.D. 516, and the governor had said that he would veto it.

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