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Keno rakes in revenue for CT in first two months

Keno rakes in revenue for CT in first two months

Stamford Advocate, July 5, 2016

By Bill Cummings

Connecticut residents are playing Keno at twice the expected rate, fueling hope that the numbers guessing game can garner as much as $70 million in annual sales.

During the first two months of play, Keno raked in $12 million in sales - double earlier estimates of about $17 million during its first six months of play, or $2.8 million a month, according to the Connecticut Lottery Corp. If the trend holds — and lottery officials believe it will — Keno is expected to draw as much as $70 million in sales during the 2017 fiscal year, lottery officials said.

“We are very pleased with how Keno has done,” said Anne Noble, president of the Connecticut Lottery Corp. “We did better than expected and are optimistic it will do that well next year.”


Keno growing fast and room for growth back to top

Upen Shah, owner of the Crossroads Card and Gift Shop in Norwalk, said Keno has brought in new customers and is keeping existing ones in the store longer. “It’s been good,” Shah said. “It’s bringing in more people. I see lots of new faces. It helps the business. It’s a win-win for everyone. We all know the state is crying for money. We make extra commissions and the state makes money.”

The acceptance of Keno - a form of Bingo in which numbers are drawn every four minutes — has been widespread across the state and in Fairfield County. By the end of May, there were 2,909 vendors offering Keno and 343 retailers had monitors which enable customers to watch the drawing live, including 150 social establishments such as clubs, bars and taverns.

Keno was authorized last year during budget negotiations among state lawmakers desperate for a new source of revenue to help plug expanding deficits. The game had been previously approved by the Legislature but lawmakers rescinded it the following year amid concerns over expanding gambling.

Under the deal approved last year, the state is sending 25 percent of its Keno profits to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Indian tribes to share. The tribes each pay 25 percent of their slot machine revenue to the state. Noble said Connecticut residents are known to have an appetite for lottery games, noting the state, on a per-capita basis, ranks 4th nationally in terms of playing lottery games. “A lot of people were skeptical about how well Keno would do,” Noble said. “We look forward to it continuing to perform well next year.”

Another factor in Keno’s success, she said, is the game has been offered in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for years, so many state residents were already familiar with Keno when it was launched in mid-April.

Earlier this month, Noble told the Lottery Corporation’s board of directors that locations with monitors perform better when players can watch the game. She said officials plan to work toward installing more monitors during the 2017 fiscal year. “There is room for growth,” Noble said.

Shah said players in his store like watching the monitor, adding he set aside a small space with a few chairs so customers can view the screen and fill out the forms used to select numbers. Dawn Sperling, who has worked at Daybreak Doughnuts in Bridgeport for the last 21 years, said customers are picking up Keno. “It’s slower during the day,” Sperling said. “But it does seem to bring in business. At night they are playing. I’ve seen some new faces trying it out.”

Sperling said she expects when colder weather returns the game will be even more popular at the doughnut shop. “When it’s colder out I bet they will play more,” Sperling said, adding many customers are still learning the game.

Keno facts back to top

  • Keno launched in mid-April
  • $12 million in sales during the first two months and $70 million in sales projected for fiscal year 2017
  • 2,909 places to play Keno in Connecticut and 343 locations have monitors to watch the game live
  • The Connecticut's lottery has poured about $8.5 billion to the state's General Fund since it’s onset in 1972 For the 2016 fiscal year, the lottery is expected to contribute $335 million to the state, a nearly six percent increase over last year
  • About 20 to 25 percent of the profit from a lottery game is returned to the state’s General Fund.
  • The lottery this fiscal year will send the state $335 million, a nearly 6 percent increase over last year, Noble said.