Ohio is giving bars, restaurants and other venues another way to draw in patrons starting August 4, 2008. The state has decided to allow keno to be offered, a fast paced game with large rewards for even the smallest of bets. They are hoping this will take some of the gambling action back from Indiana and bring people back.
A $1 bet could win up to $100,000 and the max $20 bet could bring in $2 million. Keno player pick up to ten numbers on an 80 number card and hope they match the numbers pulled by the lottery. The game will be played every four minutes, and some bars will not even require patrons to leave their tables to bet. They will collect the bet cards and feed them through a machine at the bar for customers.
Some bar and restaurant owners are very excited to use keno to help bring in new customers and possibly recapture some lost through economic changes or other issues that have come to pass, such as the ban on smoking in public places. While the 5.5% given to bars from the revenue of keno is probably not enough to profit from the game itself, which requires a dedicated phone line and possibly extra staff, it could spill over into food and drink sales and other gaming revenue offered at establishments.
One owner is hoping people will buy a round with their winnings from the bar, or enjoy other games while the keno is going on. Another is hoping to help keep people inside his bar longer and not at the outside bar. Should the bill go through to allow exemptions for private and family owned businesses in regard to the anti-smoking law keno could really help boost profits. Some are only offering keno to keep up with the status quo. If everyone else is offering keno, not offering it could negatively impact business.
The Lottery Commission is limiting licenses to places with full liquor licenses already. The keno terminals will be restricted to bar areas in an effort to ensure players are adults. Applicants will have to pass a criminal background check, secure a $20,000 bond, and agree to offer all lottery games in addition to keno. There is no limit to the number of approved licenses however. Ninety owners of establishments in southeastern Ohio have already applied, with more than a thousand statewide. More applying every day as well. The Ohio keno game is patterned after Michigan’s game which started in 2003. Ohio will be the thirteenth state to offer keno.