The wave of gambling expansion is underway in Pennsylvania. When all is said and done, it will be the largest additions in the 46-year history of the state’s lottery system.

Keno, a fast-paced, bingo-style game, went on sale last Tuesday at approved Pennsylvania Lottery retailers. The expansion is possible under Pennsylvania’s 2017 gambling law. Keno is the first step in a two-month strategy that is designed to increase state revenue that already nets $1 billion annually for senior programs.

What is available now for PA player

With wagers beginning at $1, Keno involves players ages 18 and older choosing up to 10 numbers between 1 and 80. A computer randomly draws 20 winning numbers. The more matches players have, the more they can win.

Players will be able to watch the drawing results on big-screen monitors at about 500 locations across the state. There are more on the way in the coming weeks. The state expects to reach 2,000 or even 3,000 within the next two years.

Additionally, numbers display on animated screens on the Keno page at palottery.com. lThe website also includes a list of locations offering the game. Keno results are also available using the lottery’s mobile app.

Keno expected to set off a chain reaction

Within the next few months, the gaming landscape of the Pennsylvania Lottery will be vastly different than it has been for decades.

Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko expects consumers to be able to use their smartphone and computers to wager through animated games in a month. And by late June, they will be able to place bets on Xpress Sports. These types of bets include simulated football games and auto races that will air on restaurant screens. According to Svitko, Pennsylvania will be the first state to offer such a game, which has been popular in Europe.

The state lottery will soon afford players the opportunity to set up online accounts and place wagers on 10 to 15 online games. These will be unique titles not offered in brick and mortar retailers.

Lotto revenue expected to spike

The lottery is not axing any of its existing games. Nor is it eliminating any of its 9,200 retailers that people use to play them. This wave of expansion, Svitko said, will only pad the dollars raked in by the state.

After a decrease in lottery revenue last year, this year’s numbers are already ahead of the curve. Lottery officials expect $4.2 billion in sales and $1.1 billion in profits for the fiscal year. This money goes toward helping seniors with costs of things like:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Rent and property taxes
  • Transportation services
  • In-home assistance

As part of that growth, Keno is expected to add about $27 million to profits in its first year. Meanwhile, Xpress Sports will chip in $13 million. Online games should contribute $30 million.

Why are these games being rolled out

The short-term plan is part of the state’s ongoing effort to modernize and attract new players while also bolstering state revenue.

“These games are meant to appeal to a new audience,” Svitko said. “These are a lot closer to a game like Candy Crush than what people are accustomed to in a game like Powerball. These are meant to be engaging, entertaining, relevant games. … We have fewer young people playing now than we would like.”

Svitko said Keno, iLottery, and Xspress Sports will carry the Pennsylvania Lottery into the “modern gaming era while generating essential new funds to benefit older Pennsylvanians.”

Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.