Kentucky Lottery starts Keno on Monday

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Keno is coming to Kentucky, beginning Monday at 5 a.m. It should mean more money for the Kentucky Lottery Corporation and more money for the state, and be easy to play.

“When you go into a retailer it is going to look exactly like when you buy your Pick 3 or Pick 4 tickets,” says lottery spokesman Chip Polston.

Keno is a lottery type game. Starting at one dollar, players will attempt to match the numbers randomly selected by the lottery. It is a game that will be played almost constantly.

“Every five minutes,” says Polston, “we draw twenty numbers; what players try to do is to match anywhere from one to ten of those numbers, and they decide how many they want to try to match.”

The cheapest prize you can win is $2. There is a one in four chance of doing that.

The highest payout: $100,000. Says Polston, “the odds of winning the top prize are one in about nine million, they are very, very long.”

Four hundred retailers have signed up to offer Keno, some at places that have not sold lottery games before.

Congregating and watching a monitor are not a model that is conducive to a grocery store or convenience store,” explains Polston, “but Keno is more likely to be found at a social setting, such as a restaurant, a bowling alley, or bar, or something along those lines, that is where it lends itself to where people are going to stay for awhile.”

Robert Gauthier just opened a new Roosters Restaurant on Shelbyville Road near Middletown. He will offer Keno to customers. “It does help my bottom line and I believe it is another viewing option,” says Gauthier.

He operates restaurants in Ohio, which already has Keno, and believes the game here will be good for his new restaurant. “We have 26 Roosters restaurants in Ohio and they all tried Keno and business picked up dramatically,” he says.

Last year the Kentucky Lottery turned over to the state $223 million, money earmarked for college scholarships and tuition grants.

The lottery projects in five years because of Keno, it will be able to increase that amount by $20 million.

“I think the money is being well used right now,” says Kentucky State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach IV, “but if it is going to be re-directed for any reason, I think it should go into pensions and my preference would be that it would go into the state teacher retirement system.”

Hollenbach is also a member of the lottery board and is one of those who favored Keno as a way for the lottery to increase its revenue.

He believes Keno could help the state shore up some of its pension problems.

But it will be up to members of the Kentucky General Assembly to decide how any additional lottery money should be spent.