Nova Scotia's NDP government has pulled the plug on a controversial electronic gambling game introduced last March.

 

Finance Minister Graham Steele rose in the legislature last night and announced in a statement Keno would be discontinued in about 180 bars and restaurants by Oct. 22.

 

"Even on its own terms, Keno has not been a success,'" Steele told the house.

 

"Revenue has fallen 80 per cent below expectations, with the result that Keno is actually losing money.'"

Outside the legislative chambers, Steele told reporters he made the decision after consulting with stakeholders.

He said it will cost $3.4 million to leave the game, which will come out of general gaming revenues paid to the province.

Keno was introduced, amid much criticism, by the former Tory government of Rodney MacDonald. They had expected to take in 2 to $3 million a year from the game.

Nova Scotia Gaming Corp. spokeswoman Robyn McIsaac said the latest figures on revenues, covering the period from April 1 to Aug. 31, showed the game actually experienced a net loss of $432,000.

"We've been working with the minister on the analysis and we support this decision,'' said McIsaac.

The government move was also welcomed by the Liberals, who were against the introduction of the game from the outset. But Conservative critic Cecil Clarke questioned the wisdom of pulling out at a time when the province is cash-strapped and facing a deficit of $590 million.