State lotteries are always looking for new ways to generate more revenues for the state. Illinois, Indiana, and possibly Pennsylvania have privatized their lotteries. In Pennsylvania lottery privatization is very controversial because of the secretive way the Corbett administration awarded the lottery contract without consulting with lawmakers. The state of Delaware is trying to increase lottery revenues in a highly competitive market. On Tuesday January 22nd the state of Delaware activated instant keno lottery machines at 81 bars, restaurants and other private businesses.
The state if hoping the new game will bring in about $1 million by June 30th, a small part of the $238 million forecasters estimate will be generated by all legal gambling in the state. The Keno figure is down from the $1.6 million in state funds that officials in Governor Jack Markell’s administration have predicted for this fiscal year. Legislation allowing keno was passed last summer and keno implementation and installation in bars, taverns and restaurants took longer than expected. The state missed its target of 100 keno machines by the end of 2012.
State Lottery Director Vernon Kirk said that so far his office has not prepared any keno projections for the coming fiscal year. Kirk said that the numbers will be available before the next state budget if finalized. Kirk says he has high hopes for the new games which broadcasts a 20 number lotto drawing across a network of video lottery machines. Kirk stated “We want to see how this gets a foothold. Traditionally, Keno is a growth product; it takes a while to develop, then you get nice slow, steady growth.”
Currently thirteen states operate keno games including neighboring Maryland which took in $381 million in fiscal year 2011 from machines at 2,800 venues. Out of the $381 million the state received $110 million In the last five years Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania have expanded gambling opportunities and have added table games and several new casinos have been launched. Kirk said that keno is part of a strategy to keep gamblers spending their money in Delaware. Kirk stated “We’re trying to find ways to reach new players.