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HOME > Gaming > Are video keno games worse than slot machines?

Are video keno games worse than slot machines?

4 October 2012

By John Grochowski

QUESTION: If video keno numbers are generated by random number generators, why do some casinos believe they can get away with markedly substandard pay tables? Some slot technicians allege that low payout keno machines are somehow programmed to hit more often, a claim which (if true) means that RNGs are irrelevant or subject to programming.

It is my experience that slot managers either don’t understand or do not like keno. Keno players know the “proper” pay table. A few casinos actually have pay tables above the norm, but it has become common to reduce payoffs from the norm slightly at some locations. A common example is 6 out of 6 spots paying $375 instead of $400. But some casinos pay as little as $75 for the same 6 out of 6. Other jackpots are reduced accordingly. It is also common on multi-game machines to have very sub-norm payout tables on the popular four-card or multi-card games, even with the normal payout on classic keno.

Since it is my understanding that keno actually has a bigger house hold than that programmed into most slot machines, it seems unreasonable to cut the return even further. Do you have an explanation for this?

ANSWER: Let’s boil this down into a couple of questions:

1. Do video keno games hold more -- and pay players less -- than slot machines?

Sometimes. No doubt they did when quarter and dollar reel-spinners ruled the floor. But nickel and penny video games have become lower percentage games with mass appeal, and video keno returns as much, or nearly as much, as those games. There are video keno games that pay as much as 95% and some as little as 70%, though the lower-paying games fall short of the legal minimums in most states.

2. Why do operators feel they can offer video keno players reduced pay tables?

Partly because customers keep playing. Operators who reduce video keno pay tables are telling you they think they can get the desired amount of video keno play on a lower-percentage game.

There are a couple of problems with video keno, from an operator’s standpoint. It’s slow for an electronic game. It takes longer to draw 20 keno numbers than to spin slot reels. Second, a greater percentage of keno players than slot players wager just one coin per play. That’s changing with the advent of multi-card and multi-way video keno games, but still, the average slot player wagers more coins per play and makes more plays per hour.

Your best defense when presented with a low-pay game is to try a different casino. Be sure to tell a slot host, or at least fill in a comment card, to make sure they know why you’re leaving.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

John Grochowski
John  Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field. Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago.

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