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Lottery to the rescue: Will 4-minute Keno fill Washington budget gap?

Dec 7, 2009, 7:52 am

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Washington LotteryWashington Lottery: Lottery to the rescue: Will 4-minute Keno fill Washington budget gap?Rating:

OLYMPIA, Wa. — Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire is "seriously considering" legislation that would allow four-minute Keno games as a way to help deal with a projected $2.6 billion budget shortfall.

The games could bring in an estimated $30 million a year. That's not much money compared with the budget gap, but lawmakers are hunting for any cash they can find.

Similar bills have been proposed — and have died — in the past. Things could be different this time, given the severity of the state's budget crisis, but the state's tribes likely will fight any effort.

Washington already has a Keno game played once a day. Gregoire is considering allowing a new game every four minutes.

The governor hasn't made a final decision, said Marty Brown, Gregoire's legislative director. "She's seriously considering it," Brown said, noting it could be in her proposed budget due out early next month.

Budget writers in the House and Senate on Wednesday said they were open to the idea.

"I have not been a big gambling advocate in the past. But starting last (session) I was converted a little because of our budget situation, which has only gotten worse," said House Ways and Means Chairwoman Kelli Linville, D-Bellingham. "Thirty million dollars here and $30 million there adds up to big money. No amount of money right now, for me, is too small."

The state Legislature will convene in January to figure out how to plug the projected $2.6 billion in the two-year budget, which runs through June 2011.

Democrats who control both the state House and Senate have said that, in addition to cuts, they may try to close tax loopholes or raise taxes to help balance the budget.

Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, said she may sponsor the Keno legislation. "We wouldn't be doing this if it weren't an absolute necessity," she said.

Ron Allen, chairman of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, opposes the move. Allowing the expanded Keno game would take away money from casinos run by the tribes, he said. "The market is only so deep, and we're close to saturation now," he said.

Such a proposal also would lead to a large increase in gambling in the state, he said, noting that's something Washington residents have indicated they don't support.

In 2004, more than 60 percent of Washington voters rejected Initiative 892, which would have allowed thousands of electronic slot machines in neighborhood bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and other locations across the state.

The governor's office said it doesn't consider the Keno proposal an expansion of gambling because the state already has the game.

Washington's current daily Keno game has prizes ranging from $1 to $100,000. Players choose between one and 10 numbers, either on their own or by letting a computer pick them.

The game being considered by the governor would allow tickets to be bought at all lottery retail locations. Monitors displaying the drawings every four minutes would be placed in restaurants, bars and taverns.

No information on potential prizes was available.

Prentice said Keno is different from games such as video poker. For one thing, there's the delay between each game. "It makes you cool your heels in between," she said.

Thanks to Delta Draw for the tip.

Seattle Times

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4 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by Pooh Bear.
Page 1 of 1

United States
Member #81841
October 31, 2009
856 Posts
Posted: December 7, 2009, 10:19 am - IP Logged

Thanks Todd,


As much as I like the game of Keno, as a Washingtonian, I play in Oregon. Why? The payout is better. Washington's payout is the worst and just does not even compare to Oregon's or the casinos.

Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Margarita Prentice does not have a clue to two dynamics that make this a bad call for the State. Make that three or more,......

First, the payout is very bad. Second, in the bars and lounges the order of importance is Booze, Food and Gambling. At peak hours the servers are too busy to run tickets for customers. If you want good keno, go to the casino.

Third, the payslip printers are retardedly slow thermal printers. The terminals can process the playslips, but the log-jam is the printer. The new printers were a bad choice for any improvement of selling more tickets. So there are less tickets/hour printed as before. Lounges and bars will shelve the sales because the drinkers and eaters come first. A game every 4 minutes is a disaster to be expected. It is a bad decision based on greed and the poor advise of terminal pimps.

Oregon opened up the keno game at a draw every 10 minutes. It was good. It had many lounge lizards playing the game. Then there was some changes. One was payout and the other was a game every 5 minutes. Well, that only made the state want to play catch-up and they shortly went to a 4 minute game. They lost in the long run. The number chasers went to the casinos.

“Prentice said Keno is different from games such as video poker. For one thing, there's the delay between each game. "It makes you cool your heels in between," she said.”

Four minutes is like work for a player and worse for the clerks who run the tickets. Nobody gets to cool their heels and enjoy the game. The number chasers are too busy trying to fill payslips and getting them in for the next game. Those number chasers are big income and the four minute interval and slow printers are a formula for people to say the hell with it. So you will still get the player who plays their favorite numbers several games in a row, but the real money from the number chasers is lost. Look at a casino and the formula for success is there. The problem for the state is there are no dedicated runners and clerks for the terminals. Did I mention the s l o w thermal printers? The   b i g   log-jam? Go try to play the game and stand in line while the draw begins and you see some of your digits hit! It does not take too many events like that for a player to find a game that is fun and not stressful. A four minute stresses the clerks and the players. Now what is so great about that?

The state would do well to run a ten minute game and hold back the greed-throttle for faster-baster. You will have to offer something Oregon has lost: the ten minute grace period required for the number-chasers. Remember: the payslip processors and points of sale that are not dedicated to your game. If the players cannot play successive games and enjoy it, then the bulk of keno players will be at the casinos and relaxing,.... cooling their heels. Did I mention that the thermal printers are slow? That alone makes this whole proposed idea an accountant's pipe-dream, in other words Wa lottery officials are high. Fix what you have first before any new ventures.


    rdgrnr's avatar - walt
    Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
    United States
    Member #73902
    April 28, 2009
    14903 Posts
    Posted: December 7, 2009, 2:03 pm - IP Logged

    "Democrats who control both the state House and Senate have said that, in addition to cuts, they may try to close tax loopholes or raise taxes to help balance the budget."


    I have a novel approach for those Democrats. How about not spending more than you take in? How about living within your means like sane people do? How about not going on insane spending sprees when you're already broke? How about going to jail for a few years for mismanaging the people's money?







    "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

                                                                                                --Edmund Burke



      Litebets27's avatar - power
      United States
      Member #10465
      January 14, 2005
      6252 Posts
      Posted: December 9, 2009, 9:13 pm - IP Logged

      Marylands 3 minute Keno game earned $146 million the last fiscal year. The money may have been spent in ways which we have not been told about, (the citizens who are not privy to such info), but the lottery commission turned a big profit with this game.

      Feeling,  PRICELESS!!!Banana

      Come on Jackpot!!!

        New Member
        Gauley Bridge, W. Va.
        United States
        Member #83627
        December 11, 2009
        6 Posts
        Posted: December 11, 2009, 9:05 pm - IP Logged

        This is a new milestone in the the new milineum. Who cares where you play? As long as you don't subject your children, or other people who don't know any better. It's our money. As long as we put out priorities first, have faith, and try to live an honest life. Have compassion on other people when time permits, we all will grow wings for the good in our life. Don't get a big head, and never forget the great depression. Wisdom brings knowledge. Utilize it, because you never know who you might be talking to. An Angel!!!!!! God Bless, and Happy Holidays! Be safe, and don't drink and drive. Please, to all my gambling Partiers, get a designater driver. Money issues should be posted in any situation, our business in the law system is usually there for the Public to explicit your business. It's only fair that we have the same opportunity. After all, we live in the greatest country in the world. The great U.S. of A. . God bless our troops and their families. I myself just lost my husband last year, so I feal your pain. My father was a Corporal in the Korean War for 8 years. Your new friend, Pooh Bear