Keno sweeps Newark bar scene, brings state revenue
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
Kraig Cobbins downed his drink and pushed it aside in frustration. Only four of the numbers he chose —8, 30, 12 and 56—matched the keno drawings, not enough for a payout. The Deer Park Tavern regular shook his head and looked to his friend sitting nearby.
“It’s not my day,” Cobbins said.
Cobbins, 27, Newark, is one of the many people in Delaware warming up to keno, a gambling game introduced in the state on Jan. 23. In keno, which is similar to bingo, a player chooses up to 10 numbers between one and 80, and 20 are drawn. The payout is based on how many numbers a player picked and how many they matched.
Delaware is the 14th state to offer keno, according to Product Marketing Specialist for the Delaware State Lottery Cheryl Couvillion.
“Keno is just another way to promote our games, casinos and generate revenue,” Couvillion said.
The largest payout the Delaware Lottery has had for keno was $1,600, Couvillion said. Keno is played every day, every four minutes from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. at participating locations, she said, such as Malin’s Market, Wize Guyz Sports Lounge and Books and News.
Ken Malin, one of the owners of Malin’s Market, said certain businesses play keno at their sites to boost revenue and sales. While owners make a nickel on every dollar spent playing keno, the game is popular enough among customers to draw them to the store, Malin said.
“The keno player is a different player altogether, some people who won’t play the lottery will play keno for the instant gratification” Malin said.
Patrick Morton, drawing manager at the Maryland State Lottery, said state gambling officials often bring in games that work in other states with similar populations, demographics and economic standards.
“It’s a successful game,” Morton said. “For the longest time, keno was one of our top two selling games.”
Mike Cahill, bartender and manager at Wize Guyz Sports Lounge, said most players at his bar only play while waiting for drinks. He said he is hopeful keno will eventually take off as it did in Maryland, but for now customers play it as side entertainment rather than the main attraction.
“People don’t come to the bar specifically to play keno, but they tie into other items like a live band or a DJ,” Cahill said.
But those who play more regularly could be heading toward an obsession or addiction, Marketing Coordinator of the call-in CARE Treatment Center Selena Mercado said. She has yet to receive a call or had a patient who had a gambling problem with keno, but she related the nature of the game to slot machines and card games, which people often have a problem with.
The fact that it’s played every four minutes throughout the day doesn’t help either, Mercado said.
“It’s just like how people could become addicted to video games” Mercado said. “It’s that stimuli people receive from playing, like how a pothead feels great after smoking pot.”
After his fourth losing game of the day, Cobbins closed his tab, put on his jacket and readied to leave.
He said he plays every time he sits at the bar, but he doesn’t think he has a problem.
“It’s something to do while we’re waiting,” Cobbins said. “I haven’t hit big, but I’ll keep playing.”