Endless possibilities for keno promotions

January 13, 2015 3:00 AM


There are many keno games in Nevada. Some are very well run, have lots of happy players. There are many keno games in Nevada and elsewhere. Some are very well run, have lots of happy players. Some are so-so where the thought is, we have keno, it is profitable, we don’t need to offer any promotions or make any changes as it is profitable.

Some stick keno in a corner (if you can find it) and to them it is a dying game and the area will be replaced with slot machines at the next good machine offer from the slot manufacturers.

It need not be this way. Promotions, coupons, and giveaways can be designed that are both good for the player and the casino. I offer my services to any casino manager who is interested in developing good and strong promotions.

First of all, we need to look at why we run the promotion, coupon, or giveaway. Obviously it is to enhance the bottom line and make keno a greater contributor to hotel and casino revenue. Keeping the players happily playing is also good for business and the reputation of the hotel/casino.

In order for this to work the promotion, giveaway, or coupon has to be enticing to the players and profitable to the hotel. Profit is not necessarily determined by profit on the promotion itself, but on overall profit to the hotel-casino.

You can have a promotion that is mathematically a loser based on the odds but if it brings in players and added action that is greater than the loss from the actual promotion (mathematically in dollars and cents) then you have a winner for everyone.

You have happier players who will play more, might attract new players, and more overall action resulting in greater revenue that can spill over to other departments. If the promotion is long lasting (time to play it or offered for a long term) then players may stay longer at the casino, This results in more room and food revenue as well as gaming revenue while they are waiting for their tickets to be called.

Let’s get to some specifics with examples. We all know keno is a long shot game, thus a promotion, coupon, or giveaway should not just be a simple match play. I am not negating the value of match play coupons, they do work and bring in some action. But let’s look at the total level of play desired.

First of all, players have to eat (even if they are losing weight). The idea is also to make the game interesting. It is well known the better and more frequent players usually play a lot of way tickets. If a person does not know what a way ticket is, the promotion must encourage him or her to learn about way tickets and thus play them.

Most casinos require playing of 21 games or more to allow the player the flexibility of having a year to collect their winnings. Play a 21 game way ticket of any kind (flexibility is important here, be friendly, allow way tickets on all the rates and specials you offer unless restricted by contract or Nevada Gaming Board regulations).

Give him or her a $5 meal discount coupon if he or she plays $1-$2 per game and a $10 if playing $3 or more per game. As soon as the ticket is bought give them the coupon and suggest they enjoy a nice meal in the coffee shop, buffet, or restaurant while watching their game on the keno boards there.


Given that the average ticket holds 25%-30% the cost of the promotion is minimal as the expected casino win is usually greater than the cost of the meal coupon. We all know the coupon is worth $5 to the customer but costs the casino much less. In most cases they will spend more than the coupon amount in the restaurant, resulting in revenue from the additional food purchased. The more you get a player to do everything in the same facility (play, eat, sleep) the more revenue goes to your bottom line.

Once a player finishes his or her 21 games, if they want to replay the ticket or another 21-game ticket offer them another meal coupon. You can keep the number of coupons offered under control by stamping the players ticket accordingly such as “Meal Coupon Issued,” or “Replay Meal Coupon Issued.”

Since the offer requires way tickets only, if the players do not know or understand way tickets they will have to ask.

Quite common is to allow 10 ways or more for a quarter a way, thus you have a minimum $2.50 ticket. Often the tickets the players want will require more ways than the absolute minimum, resulting in more keno “write” (action).

Make absolutely sure you get the player a tracking number or take his or her slot card, letting them know comps can be built up using their tracking number or slot card when purchasing keno tickets.

If you use keno runners consider having them stop by each dining table to give the players a 5 for 4 coupon to play while they are in the restaurant. If you don’t have keno runners consider giving the diners a keno discount coupon based on the price of their meal.

An example is if you spend $10 or more before tax and tip, they get 10 games for the price of 9. If they spend $20 or more give them two coupons. Of course, they can use only one coupon per 10-game ticket. You could even specify these tickets must be way tickets to get them really involved.

The excellent software provided by Xpertx Keno systems allows coupons and promotions to be entered in to the system. Offer a player who has a sports book ticket a coupon for 10 keno games for the price of nine each time his team scores a touchdown. Stamp the back of the ticket that the coupon was issued.

If a player’s team gets 3 touchdowns, you get 30 games of action from him or her, which should certainly spark interest in both keno and sports betting.

Another idea is offering classes where players are instructed how the game is played, how to do way tickets, and how to examine and use the pay books to get the best tickets to play. A coupon of 5 games for the price of 4 could be given to all attendees.

There are many people who do not understand keno and thus do not play it. This is a great way to get them to be a keno player.

The possibilities are endless. Let’s make keno the most interesting game in the casino!

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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