KENO – Connecticut Businesses & Legislature Has Big Hopes

Keno CTKeno, run by The Connecticut Lottery. is available at the approximately 2900 lottery retails – bars, restaurants and retailers – across the state as of April.

So far, according to Russell Blair of the Hartford Courant, “the launch has been far less contentious than the debate that rankled legislators, pitting those who saw it as a harmless new addition against those who saw it as the state preying on compulsive gamblers to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year.”

First, a KENO primer:

Keno is believed to date back to China in the 1st century AD when characters from one of Confucius` poems were used, rather than numbers, in the matrix. The object of the game to choose from one (1) to ten (10) numbers between one and eighty, in hope that some or all will be randomly selected by the centralized computer. Keno Retailers are equipped with a television monitor that displays a new drawing every certain number of minutes, usually 4-6 minutes. A win occurs when some or all of the numbers (spots) selected by the player are matched by the computer. The more numbers that are matched, the higher the payout. It is even possible to win a cash prize when none of the wagered on numbers in a ten spot game are drawn. Tickets start at $1 and the results are shown live on monitors in the establishments.

KenoT CT 2Keno, run by the Connecticut Lottery Corp., launched with nearly 3,000 locations across the state. It’s available at any retailer that has a lottery terminal, such as gas stations and convenience stores, in addition to the bars, restaurants and social clubs that signed up. The Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequots is cashing in with the state. They approved an agreement with the state Office of Policy & Management allowing Connecticut to operate Keno outside the casinos, in exchange for 25 percent of revenues generated.

Pros & Cons?  Depends who you speak to.


  • Those in favor look to states along Connecticut’s borders to show fiscal help. In New York, that state’s keno game – Quick Draw – sold more than $787 million in tickets in the last fiscal year. Keno sales totaled more than $850 million in Massachusetts and more than $80 million in Rhode Island.
  • The bars get a take of the total money spent on keno tickets as well as the winnings.
  • A decline in business at CT bars and restaurants due to tighter DUI & non-smoking policies (all supported by NETG) may find another new source of income and business


  • Those against feel that it’s just another addiction waiting to happen and feeds into lost income already a concern by CT residents.
  • Some bar & restaurant owners feel it’s a hindrance, and worry that people might spend too much money on keno, not having enough left for drinks, food or staff tips.


Customers play a round of keno at Daybreak Doughnuts in Bridgeport

Customers play a round of keno at Daybreak Doughnuts in Bridgeport.  Courtesy of CT Post

Russell Blair’s article continues to say “It’s too early to tell if keno will have a noticeable impact on the bottom line at the bars and restaurants that carry it.”

Playing KENO has been available for years in Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, and recently started in Maine in 2015. KENO is still being introduced to state legislature, again this year, in New Hampshire and is not available through the lottery in Vermont.




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