LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Those who spun a wheel at Wick's Pizza & Pub in the Highlands Monday had more opportunities to play Kentucky Lottery's newest game, Keno.
"It's all about frequency of play," Lottery CEO Arch Gleason said. "Another game, every five minutes."
It didn't even take Evette Thomas that long to get her system solidified.
"I'm goin' birthday's and ages," she said. "My sisters' and Mom's birthdays and ages. I'm just burning away my lunch hour."
Keno allows bettors to play as many as 10 numbers of the 80 numbers on its board. Wagers can be as little as $1 and up to $240 per play.
That's part of the reason lottery officials targeted Keno to bars, restaurants and convenience stores that offer more than get and go. The longer folks play, the longer they'll stay.
"And get another beverage, another sandwich, and enjoy a little boost to all of their business," Gleason said.
"We're certainly looking toward that," Wick's marketing Director Ashley Isaacs said. "But we're also looking for something that brings excitement to our customers."
Lottery officials forecast Keno generating about $2,000 in sales per week per site, or about $28 million from 400 sites for the nine months remaining in Kentucky's current budget year. About $8 million would go directly to the Commonwealth.
"We're hoping it'll be a net gain in sales over the life of the game," Gleason said. "But obviously we need to keep sales in Kentucky."
If Carol Hawkins' experience is typical, the Lottery's greatest challenge could be preserving its share of the bettors' pie.
"I don't gamble much but like playing the ponies," Hawkins said. "I like this (Keno). Probably will play it more than the lottery."
But Keno was drawing criticism well before its formal rollout.
"We keep redefining what the lottery is," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation, a conservative group opposed to gaming. "It's Robin Hood in reverse; robbing from the poor and giving to the rich. It's not gonna be very good for the horse industry."
The Family Foundation plan to press the next session of the General Assembly to order Keno scrapped. "It's expansion without legislative approval," Cothran said.
"We didn't even have a shot at it," claimed Joe Melton, owner of Discount Cigarettes near the Outer Loop. "They (Keno's chosen retailers) shouldn't have it unless everybody gets a shot at it."
"Other retailers will have an opportunity to join as the program expands," Gleason said. Lottery officials are hopeful that 675 outlets will offer Keno in the next five years, generating up to $100 million in annual revenue.
How Keno plays out may well depend on logistics.
"For now, we're just playing it by ear," Wick's Isaacs said. "If it gets to the point where we need to add a person specifically to handle (Keno sales), we'll certainly do it."