January 5, 2009
Cleveland Metro

Sales for state-run Keno game missed projected target

The odds of Gov. Ted Strickland’s gamble on the state’s newest lottery game generating as much revenue for the state as his administration project are about as likely as you winning the lottery today.

Strickland proposed adding the game last January to help plug a projected deficit of $733 million in the state’s budget. Lottery officials expected annual sales to reach $292 million. However, sales are on pace to reach just a third of that.

Keno launched Aug. 4. Through Dec. 20, weekly sales averaged $2 million. They would have to quadruple to nearly $8 million a week through July to reach lottery officials’ original projections.

The number of retailers offering the game also has fallen far short of the Lottery Commission’s expectations. It foresaw 2,000 licensed dealers by the end of 2008. However, lottery officials currently estimate that there are just 1,029.

Despite Keno’s dismal showings, lottery officials are still trying to put a positive spin on the game by saying that total sales of all lottery games are up $20 million for the year.

Referring to this 1.7-percent increase, lottery spokeswoman Marie Kilbane referred to the dismal state of the nation’s economy: “In a challenging retail environment, the Ohio Lottery is fortunate to be holding its own.”