Keno attracting players, but sales below projections
Mike Winiasz of Lorain watches his neighbor pick numbers in the Ohio Lottery's new game, Keno, but he does not indulge.
"The last time I was in a lottery, I was picked No. 1 in the draft," he said. "I figured I used up my lottery luck."
Keno, the Ohio Lottery's newest game, finished up its first month of operation this week. As of Sunday, Keno brought in $7.2 million and awarded $4.6 million in prizes, Ohio Lottery officials said.
The biggest winner was a Chardon man who won $11,010 on Aug. 6.Weekly sales figures have hovered around $1.8 million since the game began on Aug. 4, said Marie Kilbane, lottery spokeswoman.
Before Keno was launched, lottery officials said the game was expected to produce $292 million in sales a year.
Kilbane acknowledged that the one-month sales figures were below what was needed to meet the initial projection of $292 million in annual sales, but said it is much too soon for such projections. Lottery officials believe the numbers will improve when more retailers are approved to sell Keno, Kilbane said.
"We're in a slow sales period of the year," she said. "Also, we're still recruiting more retailers. We expect sales to pick up later in the year, especially closer to holidays. We will continue to look at the figures and re-evaluate our goals later if it becomes necessary."
Authorized Keno dealers in Ohio number 974, with another 321 going through the application process.
The Lottery Commission hopes to have 2,000 Keno retailers by the end of the year.
Jim Bentley, manager of the Quaker Steak and Lube in Sheffield, said the number of regular players at his restaurant has increased in recent weeks.
"We've been getting a lot of winners in the $400 to $500 range and word is getting around," he said. "About half of the customers are regulars who play every day; the others are new."
Bentley said they get up to 100 people a day sitting at the bar or in the restaurant filling out the Keno forms and then watching the drawings on wall-mounted monitors.
Pat Campana of Lorain is a regular.
"I play about $20 to $40 a day," he said. "To me, it's entertainment. It's good as long as you're having fun. So far, I'm ahead about $100."
Keno sales by week
Week One, Aug. 4-9:
- $1,808,717 in sales
- $1,178,913 paid out
Week Two, Aug. 10-16:
- $1,824,171 in sales
- $1,158,698 paid out
Week Three, Aug. 17-23:
- $1,780,725 in sales
- $1,142,737 paid out
Week Four, Aug. 24-30:
- $1,801,151 in sales
- $1,143,631 paid out