The closest thing to a state lottery, Nevada Numbers is gaining momentum in Southern Nevada casinos.
“What’s really great is that Nevada Numbers is reversing a downward trend in keno play that has plagued casinos for decades,” said Zak Khal, vice president of gaming operations for Las Vegas Gaming Inc., which operates the lottery like game.
Having recently won approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission, Nevada Numbers will soon spread beyond the Park Place Entertainment properties that for six months have served as test casinos: Bally’s/Paris, Las Vegas Hilton, Reno Hilton, Flamingo Las Vegas and Flamingo Laughlin.
Within the next few weeks 10 additional sites will be added to the Nevada Numbers network, including Jerry’s Nugget, Avi in Laughlin, Mahoney’s Silver Nugget, New Frontier, Riverside in Laughlin, Sahara, Imperial Palace, Castaways and the River Palms in Laughlin.
Nevada Numbers is a numbers game similar to keno, in which players pick five numbers from the 1-80 offered in a standard keno game. The live drawing of five numbers takes place at Bally’s every day at 6 p.m.
Winners receive payouts for hitting at least one of the five numbers. Hitting all five numbers rewards the player with a progressive jackpot that begins at $5 million. Tickets are $2 each.
Players can purchase up to 50 tickets in advance. So far, no one has hit the top jackpot. Play began last June.
“Nevada Numbers is a revolutionary execution of a proven and popular concept,” Khal said. “It’s a great game for tourists and looks alike. More import, it has already proven an ability to improve overall keno results by appealing to guests that play Megabucks, lotteries in their home state and anyone looking for an opportunity to retire.”
The game is not only similar to keno, but it is played in the casinos’ keno lounges. Keno, a staple in almost every coffee shop and casino floor for unrestricted gaming licenses since the dawn of legalized gambling, has seen a downturn in revenue in recent years. Unlike the positive growth in the slot machine and table game markets, statewide keno has experienced a total loss in revenues of 35 percent since 1994.
Nevada Numbers is expected to reverse the trend, based on the positive results obtained in the field trial. Although the distribution and marketing has been limited during the trial, Nevada Numbers has clearly demonstrated an ability to spark a renewed interest in keno. In addition to adding incremental Nevada Numbers wagers, the game has improved standard keno wagering volume.
“Most operators are searching for ways to reduce their cost structure and some are even considering whether they should remove their keno games altogether,” Khal said. “Whether they eliminate the game or reduce the labor costs by linking properties or installing automatic ball draw devices, it results in lost jobs. Nevada Numbers has the potential to reverse this long term trend and save jobs by appealing to an entirely new market segment.