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Pixiu: Online Keno’s Potential in the US

By - 8 June 2023

As the US market matures, game lobbies are being stocked with an increasing variety of slots, table, live and bingo titles. But this focus on the staples has left other game types such as keno lagging behind.

Whilst the lottery draw game has proven itself a a solid driver of revenue on the land-based side, there is a dearth of keno content currently available online. Tony Plaskow, founder at Pixiu, explains why this is set to change over the coming months.

Firstly, how does Keno work?

Keno is a lottery-type numbers draw game. Players pick between two and ten numbers ranging from one to 80 in value with the aim of matching their numbers with the 20 numbers randomly drawn. The more numbers you match with the 20 drawn balls, the more you win.

Keno games can also offer a jackpot prize with players excited by the chance to land a life-changing cash prize. It’s played by millions of people across the US and Canada, usually on video lottery terminals or machines located in bars, casinos and lottery ticket outlets.

Keno is a softer, low-stakes game which means players don’t burn through their bankroll in a matter of minutes. Therefore, iIt naturally encourages responsible player behaviours and allows players with smaller budgets to play for longer, always with the chance of a life-changing win.

Players can adapt their game play using things like game speed and staking to fit their preferences. Keno is a simple, fun game that gives players the chance to win big – and that’s why makes it so popular.

Is the audience for keno typically older than other online casino games?

Keno generally appeals to older players. We’re talking 40 years plus but with a 50/50 split between male and female. That said, the easy-to-understand gameplay, quick-fire draws and big prizes is starting to attract a younger player demographic.

The game is perfectly suited for mobile play where layers can easily play and enjoy the game on the go or relax at home. Keno is a powerful way to attract both existing land-based players and new-to-the-game players looking for something new, and fun, plus with the chance to win a big jackpot.

Why have online operators been slow to embrace keno?

It’s mostly due to the lack of games available. Right now, just three online keno titles are available for operators in the US market, so momentum is not building behind the vertical in the same way it is for slots with hundreds of titles on offer.

Those that are stocking keno already tend to just add it to their slot lobbies, but this means it is often missed by players which in turn means operators are not unlocking its full potential.

How can operators maximise the potential offered by keno?

It needs to be given its own tab in the casino lobby. This makes it easy for new online players to find – those that have come from retail will be put off by having to search through hundreds of slots to find the games they want to play.

Ditto when it comes to making existing players aware of keno titles being added for the first time – giving them a dedicated tab ensures they can see a new game category has been introduced. Those that do give it a dedicated tab can see up to 10 per cent incremental revenue being generated from their casino tab.

Is the biggest keno opportunity for lottery operators to push retail players online? Can online-only brands benefit from adding keno?

Keno offers tremendous upsides to both lottery operators and online casino brands. For the former, it presents a significant acquisition opportunity – at the moment, keno players can only really play their favourite game in person at a sports bar or lottery outlet, so playing online drives this audience to an operator’s digital assets at scale.

We have seen this happen in a meaningful way for both Loto Quebec and the British Colombia Lottery Corporation where by offering our games they materially increased overall NGR for the whole site as keno revenues were generated and these players then crossed over into slots in a meaningful way indeed. In fact, cross-sell between slots and keno is around 80 per cent – a rate that is frankly unrivalled.

For online casino brands, it allows them to engage a different player cohort and draw them to their site for the first time while also offering existing players fresh content to try. When it comes to retention, keno moves the needle with our data showing that keno players are among the most loyal for any online operator. Some of our Canadian partners that launched keno five years ago have players that are still enjoying the games today.

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