New lottery game keno exceeds sales expectations even through retailers lag



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FRANKFORT, Kentucky — The Kentucky Lottery's new keno game hasn't attracted as many retailers as projected, but sales have exceeded expectations since it launched late last year.

Kentucky Lottery Chief Financial Officer Howard Kline told The State Journal (http://bit.ly/1xym6t7) that the bingo-style game, which has drawings every five minutes, sold $28.5 million in wagers as of June 21. He says that's about $500,000 more than estimated.

Kline said that came despite having only 272 Keno-only retailers sign on to offer the game by the end of May. Lottery officials initially had anticipated having 400 Keno-only retailers by the end of June.

Because keno is marketed as a social game, lottery officials have reached out to businesses that typically don't offer wagering, such as bars and restaurants.

"Recruiting new retailers, especially Keno-only retailers, is one of our major tasks going forward," Kline said. "We're hoping to have 400 retailers by the end of the fiscal year. Obviously we're short of that. We need to continue to grow our base."

Lottery spokesman Chip Polston says there more northern Kentucky locations offering the game than in other areas of the state because keno is played in Ohio and residents are more familiar with the concept.

"When you get into areas like Lexington, though, that is a bit of an island where they aren't around any place that readily offers the game, that's been a little harder nut for us to be able to crack," Polston said.

"... We've also run into some statutory issues in a couple of counties, I know particularly in Eastern Kentucky, where ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) laws don't allow basically gambling and drinking to co-exist under the same roof, so with some of the county-by-county statutes that are in place, and it's only happened in a couple of places, we haven't been able to hit some of the non-traditional retailers that we would have liked in the social setting."

In Frankfort, Larry Patel launched Keno in March and said the store averages weekly sales of between $3,000 and $4,000.

"The game's going good," Patel said. "... People are staying longer. I mean, there's a new player every day."


Information from: The State Journal, http://www.state-journal.com

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