Keno is legal in California but it's only at the California Lottery

November 04, 2014 3:00 AM
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The Barona Hotel and Casino, in Lakeside, California Presently the only keno in California is the “hot spot” of the California Lottery and the video keno machines at the many tribal casinos. This does not have to be the case.

Keno is legal in California if a RNG (Random Number Game) draw is used. I offer the following as proof.

The Barona Hotel and Casino, in Lakeside, California (access via free bus from El Cajon Transit Center, trolley-green or orange line) most of the day at very frequent intervals is a case in point.

They have a multi-player roulette game that uses a random number generator for the ball rolled. The game has an attendant and many stations for the players, giving every feature of the game except the traditional wheel and chips.

This is fully legal in accordance with California Gaming Regulations under Prop 1A (the referendum passed that allowed Class III wide open gaming on tribal reservations in California). Since Las Vegas-style roulette was not one of the games mentioned in Prop 1A, regular roulette could not be offered, only the type that would be similar to a video slot machine would be allowed.

Voila, you have roulette in California tribal casinos. Since the player wagers and is paid at his/her individual station it is considered the same as a slot machine and is perfectly legal.

The exact same electronic game could be used to offer keno in California tribal casinos. You would have individual stations (terminals) where the players would wager and collect their winnings. It would all be tied into a single RNG game for the draw.

You would have an attendant to assist the players and who would start the draw for each game. Nothing prohibits the casino from printing pay books similar to a Las Vegas casino showing what tickets are available and how much they pay.

As to way tickets, while presently only offered on a limited basis (3-6-9 keno, 7-way keno, etc.), a game could be easily designed to allow for way tickets as they are known in Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City and other gaming jurisdictions that have live keno.

Presently you can have way ticket keno for personal use using Masque software (about $30), thus the technology is there to have keno with way tickets in the tribal casinos.

The individual stations could easily have chairs resembling a Vegas-style keno lounge with a large display board as seen in the casinos of Nevada and New Jersey. But to date, no California tribal casino has given this a try

I am sure companies such as XpertX, IGT, and Action Gaming would be more than willing to assist with the setup. Progressive keno jackpots can be available linking the various stations (terminals) together putting a portion of each dollar wagered into the progressive jackpot(s).

The reasons this has not been tried are likely:

• The casinos never thought of keno in this manner.

• The setup as mentioned above is not available (which it isn’t now but could be manufactured quite easily as is presently done for roulette) to offer the game in California tribal casinos.

• The casino management feeling is that keno is simply not worth the effort in this manner.

Since it definitely is possible all we need is for tribal casino management to implement keno. Players, it is up to you to let them know this keno option is available and encourage a keno game in your local tribal casino.

I offer my assistance as a consultant in order to encourage the establishment of RNG keno in California tribal casinos. If your local casino manager does not get GamingToday tell him or her about the website (gamingtoday.com) where they can sign up for a reasonably priced online or print subscription.

Let them know you want multi- player keno lounge-style RNG keno. After all, the casinos only have to open their ears to get started. Start a group: “Kalifornians 4 Keno in Kalifornia” or similar!

Well, what do you, or my valuable GamingToday readers think? Send me an email (address at end of column) and I can give you my thoughts on keno in California. Hopefully, the tribal casinos there will act and establish live RNG keno.

Pass the word and perhaps it can become reality. Meanwhile, study up and play at your favorite keno lounge and make sure to select the numbers that are drawn.

Best of luck to all!

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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