Ohio Pushes Keno, Not Track Gaming

Ohio's governor supports keno in bars but not video lottery terminals at racetracks.

by John Kady

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has promised to add keno games to the Ohio Lottery to make up for a projected budget shortfall at the end of this fiscal year on June 30. 

Strickland, who has opposed any expansion of gambling in Ohio, said the inclusion of keno games would bring the state an estimated $73 million in revenue. Strickland, however, has opposed video lottery terminals and Instant Racing machines at the state’s seven racetracks.

Supporters of gaming machines at racetracks called Strickland’s position on the keno games hypocritical. “The keno games are gambling, pure and simple,” attorney William Meeks said. “There is no element of skill in those games.”

The keno games would be installed in bars and private clubs throughout Ohio. Players would mark numbers on a piece of paper, and lottery commission officials would conduct drawings. If any of the numbers pulled are the same as those marked, payoffs would be made and would gradually increase according to the number of numbers played.

The keno proposal does not need approval by the legislature or Ohio voters.

Last year, a few Ohio racetracks began operating what they called video games of skill. They were forced to remove them after legislative action deemed them illegal games of chance.