Keno in a casino should not be an afterthought

September 16, 2014 3:00 AM
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Casinos must push product There are casinos that do a good job promoting keno and some who have IT as an afterthought.

Let’s put some ideas out there in the hope some managers will improve their games, letting more enjoy the fun of playing keno.

First of all, since 80% of the population does not smoke, the keno area should be at least 50% or more nonsmoking.

Also, the keno area should be easy to locate with signs throughout the casino so potential players can find it. Keno deserves a better location than in some corner even employees have difficulty locating.

The casino needs to show that keno is important to them. If the public perceives management does not care about their game, how can the players be expected to care?

The staffing should be adequate to keep the area clean and well stocked. One should not have to look all over the place to find keno pay books or crayons.

The staff should be well trained. There is more to ticket writing than entering tickets into the computer. Staff should be able to answer questions as to payouts, number of ways, how ways work, specials, writing a ticket and any other general questions about keno. Knowledge of current keno promotions is essential.

The return to the players should be competitive and fair. There is no reason for a casino to hold over 30%. (Progressives can pay a little less at reset since money from every ticket goes in to the jackpot as it increases.) Do not think the players won’t notice; word gets around.

Do not have rules that make no sense. If you will take a $1 bet, what different does it make if it is a  straight ticket or a 20-way-5 at a nickel a way? The revenue is the same. Way tickets at any amount as long as the casinos minimum desired amount per ticket is bet should be allowed. The use of ways creates interest in keno, don’t squash it!

Simplify your pay books. If a 6-spot special costs $1.50, paying $1.25 for a 3-of-6 is more costly in terms of wasted time than paying $1.50. If a person replays a ticket, making the 3-of-6 pay out the same as the ticket cost avoids the extra time handling the quarter from the customer. Why do you think casinos have 3, 4, 5 odds in craps when it could be the same allowed for all point numbers? If a player in a casino taking 3, 4, 5 odds plays $5 and takes the allowed 3 times on the 4 and 10 the total payout is $35. If a player in a casino takes the allowed 4 times odds on the 5 or 9 on a $5 bet the payoff is $35.

Finally, if the player takes the 5 times odds allowed the total payoff is $35. The casino makes more this way as the game is faster – time IS money.

Not having to handle both $5 and $1 chips in a payoff saves time. Same thing in keno – make the payoffs easy amounts to pay or for a customer to replay. Make payoffs more symmetrical, it will cost you little.

For example, a downtown casino pays $4 for 4-of-5. Pay $5 and you only have to handle one bill.

Casinos allow varying times to collect winning tickets. Most allow 24 hours to 7 days for tickets of 20 games or less and a year for 21 games or more. Another casino allows a year on 10 games or more. Make it as easy for the player as possible.

Some casinos require drink tickets to be used for service in keno. Why? A person can play a penny at a time in a slot machine and get whatever he or she wants without question from the cocktail waitress. If you are concerned about freeloaders in your keno lounge require drink tickets only for alcohol. Keep in mind that the time spent by writers filling out and issuing drink tickets slows down the game.

There are probably many other ideas out there to improve the game experience. Feel free to pass them along.

Pesach Kremen is a former UNLV Masters Gaming student, has won and placed in multiple local keno tournaments, and has written several academic papers on Keno. You can reach him at PesachKremen@GamingToday.com.

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