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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another Giant Sucking Sound? Ohioans Projected To Spend $292 Million Yearly On Keno

COLUMBUS (TDB) -- Thirty cents of every dollar wagered are skimmed off the top. And maybe all that moola expected to be dumped into Ohio Lottery Commission keno wagering devices starting July 1 will cut down on the drunk-driving rate. Because it now looks like there will be a lot less money around to spend on beer and booze after keno becomes legal in taverns. State lottery officials have estimated that installing the gambling machines in bars will rake in at least $584 million over the next two years from players. Ohio and its keno contractor will keep about $164 million -- so at least 30% of the cash never gets back to the gamblers. The spending projection appears in a proposed contract for approximately 2,000 keno betting machines lottery officials have submitted to the state Controlling Board for approval Monday:

"The anticipated gross revenue from implementation of the Keno monitor game is estimated at $292,000,000 per FY (fiscal year) beginning in FY '09. The anticipated launch date for the Keno monitor game is July 1, 2008."

State officials are also seeking approval of an $18 million no-bid contract with GTECH Corp., a Rhode Island firm "to provide enhanced gaming system equipment, peripherals and hardware for implementation of the Keno monitor games." The $18 million contract would cover two years. Gov. Ted Strickland says the state's cut of the take will be $73 million yearly.

Meanwhile, the Daily Briefing is reporting that GOP lawmakers on the Controlling Board are lining up to vote against the GTECH contract. They appear to be digging in to oppose Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland's plan to expand gambling. Strickland says allowing the state lottery to put keno machines in Ohio's taverns will help plug budget shortfalls.

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