Keno jackpots on endangered species list?

Dec 8, 2009 5:01 PM
Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

Last week, we received a note from a reader, who was responding to an article I wrote about catching an 8-of-9 jackpot playing video keno. He said he was an avid video keno player, but that it seemed like the machines over the past couple of years have been tightened so badly that winning simply no longer occurs.

I think he raised a lot of thoughtful points and expressed the sentiments of a lot of players, so I’m including his comments here:

"Here’s a little true fact to my experience of video keno in Las Vegas. I’ve lived here for more than 2 years. I enjoy the warm climate at my age. But when it comes to the gambling capital of the world, I seem to have no luck playing video keno here in Vegas. I enjoy reading your columns, and some advice I have taken. But the fact is, in my opinion, these machines are tighter than ever. And I play consistently at a lot of casinos off the Strip, where the locals play.

"I can honestly say that until these casinos pay off once in a while, the word is going to get out that Vegas is just another greedy town, wanting every last dime you own. I know casinos surely don’t like hearing these kind of comments, because the mere fact, they want folks to come here to play. But I’m one of those fellas who tell it like it is. And it’s based on my experience since I have lived here.

"The fact is I have had one tax slip (W2-G) payout in 3 years. And that was barely over the amount allowable. I play 20 card keno, Power Keno, Cleopatra Keno, and regular keno as well as Caveman Keno. And I have yet to find a system to be successful.

"On regular keno, I have never hit 7 out of 9, for $335. And I have tried all denominations, with no luck. I have hit 8 out of 9 in 20-card keno about four times, but that was smaller denominations, such as 1 and 2 cents. I guess I just want to know how the locals feel about the absolute tightness of the machines.

"And how does it affect tourism, when folks like me advise friends not to come out here expecting much on payouts. People come to the gaming capital of the world with some dream of hitting a jackpot. But in my experience, I’ve yet to see it. Am I playing the wrong numbers? Am I playing the wrong denominations?

"That fact is that the payouts are fewer. And the casinos are not about to care until the voices speak out, or we players just quit playing altogether. Gambling is not what is used to be; it’s all about the greed. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it!"

I know many players feel the same way because I hear it every time I’m in the casinos. It’s a common theme among local Las Vegans that the jackpots have become rare as hens teeth.

We at GamingToday have been trying to get the casinos to release statistics on their W2-G payouts – how much they’ve dropped off over the past several years. And they have dropped off: a floor supervisor at a popular North Las Vegas casino told me so.

But, so far, we’ve had no success gaining that information. Do the casinos have something to hide?

Incidentally, one of the larger Vegas casino operators recently launched a TV ad campaign in which smiling "jackpot winners" sing the praises of these casinos. That’s fine, but show us the real numbers on taxable payouts and how they compare to years past.

As far as the other comments from our reader, I can suggest maybe trying a little Four Card Keno. It’s a nice compromise between 20-card keno and regular keno. The other so-called bonus games – Cleopatra, Power Keno and Caveman Keno – are mostly for fun. The payouts are so low on these games (even in the bonus situation), even if you catch something like 8-out-of-9, you won’t win nearly the amount you’d win playing the "standard" keno games.

The comment about never catching a 7-of-9 is somewhat surprising, although I know what it’s like to go through these long droughts. Next week, I’ll explain more in detail how I go about "working" the machines while playing regular keno.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: LJ Zahm