Despite A Slow Start, The Future Looks Bright For Keno Games In Pennsylvania

The proliferation of Keno in Pennsylvania may have initially confused some players, but now that they're adjusting to the format, signs point to it taking the state by storm.
Keno Bright Future PA Lottery

The newest addition to the PA Lottery repertoire, Keno, is now a full week old with thousands of drawings already having taken place.


Throughout the state’s players have been warming to the new game, with initial reports of a confused populace that needed a brief period of adjustment to learn how this game, common in other markets, works.

The basics of keno

Keno is a popular casino game most known for its similarity to standard lottery draw games, though the common elements also make it a viable choice for state lotteries in many markets. The main difference between it and your more common draw games is the variable number of picks.

Unlike traditional lottery games where you have to pick a set amount of numbers (usually 3 to 6) in Keno you can choose to play between 1 and 10 spots on your card (numbers range from 1 to 80).

When twenty winning numbers are then chosen, the prize value for matching those numbers varies based on how many spots you played. Playing only one spot on a dollar ticket would yield you $2.50 for matching that one number (1 in 4 odds), but playing the maximum of ten spots means you would need to match at least 5 spots (about 1 in 19 odds) to win the minimum $2 prize.

The upside is matching all 10 spots (1 chance in almost 9 million) will reward you with $100,000 for a dollar ticket. Larger values for the ticket can be played, up to $20 with the prizes increasing proportionately, and for a small extra fee a random multiplier value can be added to your potential prize.

Playing either 9 or 10 spots also unlocks a small prize for matching 0 numbers, which is a little harder than it sounds. This lines up nicely with Keno’s overall theme, it’s either exactly as complicated as a regular lottery or needlessly more complicated depending on your point of view.

Keno’s appeal

Presuming a player settles into a preferred amount of spots to play, the game then functions just like any other lotto draw. What sets Pennsylvania’s new keno apart from the other state lotteries is the overwhelming frequency of the games. New drawings are executed every 4 minutes during play hours, with the ability for players to purchase numbers that can be replayed for additional fees for up to the next 20 drawings.

On top of this there is Keno’s easy accessibility and interactivity. The Keystone State has designed the new game to incorporate physical monitors in most retail locations for players to instantly watch the next drawing and see immediate results.

Beyond just the usual lottery retailers, Keno was specifically added with the idea of making the games available in restaurants and bars as part of the state’s gambling expansion (with the game monitors also possibly used for virtual sports when those launch soon). The drawings can also be watched on a mobile device or computer as long as the ticket is purchased through a licensed retailer, though later in the month the state plans to add full online playing capability.

In-store play should still prove less popular than online

At this time the retail version of Keno is growing in popularity, but with the ability to quickly and easily purchase tickets from anywhere in the state the game has a risk of exploding.

In a way the forthcoming online Keno will be wholly unique in the gambling environment: neighboring Ohio has for years offered a Keno game every four minutes identical to Pennsylvania’s retail Keno but has no prospects of internet gambling any time soon, and Michigan’s online lottery has instant Keno scratchers (fundamentally similar but somehow completely different) while that state’s popular traditional Club Keno game still requires a retail ticket purchase.

This means if Pennsylvania gets access to online Keno ticket purchase it makes full traditional lottery gameplay available essentially anywhere at any time, a potentially dangerous thing to offer to the public (especially as Keno is considered the single most volatile game in casinos today).

Such ease will undoubtedly make online Keno extremely popular among lotto players, some worry perhaps too much so, but in any case will definitely provide a major boost in state lottery revenues and also be a quick way to transition Pennsylvania’s gamblers to the new online environment.



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