Ohio Lottery Commission Concerned Sports Betting Is Cutting Into Keno Sales

Though March showed big gains in sales for the Ohio Lottery compared to a year ago, declining keno sales have the state lottery commission looking for answers.

Last month, Ohio keno sales brought in $56.3 million, a drop of 5% compared to March 2023.

The nearly $3 million difference pushes year-to-date numbers for keno games down even further.

Through nine months of fiscal year 2024, keno has seen a 2% dip in purchases. That equates to nearly $10 million less in sales.

Commission members believe that the decline is correlated to Ohio launching sports betting in January 2023. Director of Finance Ed Slyman addressed that during his monthly report on Wednesday:

“I mean, anecdotally speaking, I think (sports betting) does (impact keno sales), because if you look at last year, we were up I think 6%. Now, year to date, we’re down. So, if anything is going to transpire, you might expect less positive or even flat growth. But, the fact that we’re at negative growth, if you’re comparing apples to apples, what’s really changed? We’ve added more keno retailers, so there should be some growth, right? So, I think sports gaming has some sort of material effect.”

Sports betting success impacting Ohio keno sales?

Sports betting made a big splash in Ohio in 2023.

The state finished sixth nationally in handle with $7.59 billion in wagers for the year. That resulted in $934.2 million in revenue for the operators.

Ohio has produced $1.47 billion in wagers through the first two months of 2024. This new gambling source is believed by the lottery commission to be taking away from keno sales.

On Wednesday, Ohio Lottery Commission members pointed to sports betting having a similar demographic – males 24-45 – as keno players.

With March’s dip in sales of the monitor game, keno sits at $473.5 million in sales this year in Ohio. That is in comparison to $483.1 million at the same point last year.

The commission is now focused on different marketing techniques to help make up for the Keno losses. Regional staff will be hosting keno parties in the weeks and months ahead.

In August, Ohio is planning a mail-in promotion that will be sent to 1 million households. The promo will offer a free scratch ticket when you play $2 worth of keno.

Mega Millions, Powerball lead Ohio Lottery to sales boost in March

The two biggest national options among lottery draw games helped lift Ohio to impressive overall sales numbers last month.

In March, the state had $62.3 million in sales for its multistate draw games. That was an increase of over $40 million from March 2023.

Mega Millions brought in $29.9 million in sales, a 178.3% jump from last year. Powerball had $28.4 million in March purchases, up 269% from a year prior.

Those numbers pushed Ohio to reach $424.7 million in traditional lottery sales for the month, besting last March by 7.2% ($396.2 million).

Last month saw some big jackpots in the respective games. Mega Millions featured a $1.13 billion jackpot, while Powerball also approached $1 billion at the end of March. It was the first time in history that both Powerball and Mega Millions had simultaneous jackpots of at least $800 million.

With three full months remaining in fiscal year 2024, Ohio has generated $3.45 billion in traditional sales. That is 1.3% ahead of last year at this time, when the state sat at $3.40 billion.

Ohio VLTs see record revenue

Another high note for the Ohio Lottery last month was its reported revenue from video lottery terminals (VLTs).

The state set an all-time record for VLT gross revenue with $128.7 million in March. That was up 3% from a year ago.

The record-setting month helped propel VLT earnings ahead of FY23’s pace. Through nine months, the terminals are up 0.6% in revenue for FY24.

Not many of Ohio’s games are ahead of where they were last year when it comes to sales. Only retail instant win games, daily draw, and multistate draw games are exceeding last year’s rate.

In-state lotto (-9.8%), monitor games (-1.7%), and fast play (-11.2%) are all behind FY23 to this point.


Photo by PlayiLottery

About the Author

Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis

Lead Writer
A member of Catena Media since 2020, Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer at PlayiLottery, where he handles coverage of the online and retail lottery industry in the US. He previously spearheaded news content at PlayMichigan, where he covered one of the most prominent online lottery industries in the US — among the many other aspects of Michigan's sprawling iGaming market. You can email him at [email protected].
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