On the heels of implementing iLottery in July, the Virginia Lottery followed with launching its new 4-minute Keno in August. It was a big job in the middle of a pandemic.
Keno recruitment for bars and restaurants was very difficult. “Most potential locations were closed to adhere to state and local guidelines. Also, for their safety, our field sales reps were not conducting their normal in-person appointments to sell-in the game. We did see some success with post card mailings that provided a link to a Keno recruitment website. We are working closely with our sales team on some creative ideas to attract non-traditional retailers and confident that we’ll begin to see a rise in those partnership,” said Corey Klingel, Draw Game Specialist, Virginia Lottery.

Though the lottery is advertising on traditional channels, Klingel said it definitely chose to focus on targeting cross-platform device users and streaming consumers. “With many people still working remotely, we felt this was our best opportunity to engage our players with our messages,” said Klingel.

All the lottery’s traditional retailers sell Keno. “Some of our higher-volume retailers also have installed monitors that display the drawings and we are seeing positive results from that,” noted Klingel. “When we begin expanding our reach into non-traditional retailers, we are confident that our player base will already be familiar with the game.”

The first full week of Keno’s sales were $807,101. “We averaged around $100,000 in daily Keno sales until our advertising campaign began two weeks after the official launch. Currently, sales are averaging around $125,000 daily, and we just celebrated our first week over $1M in sales!” he said.

Keno sales are estimated at $35 million in fiscal 2021, based on 11 months of sales. “Our estimates are based on previous performance history with other states. We did lean conservatively, as the pandemic hampered the recruitment process and also eliminated the social advantage on which Keno typically thrives. Despite those hurdles, Keno is performing well and we are above our original expectations after one month of sales,” said Klingel.

Since the lottery cannot conduct consumer launch events, it is educating its players and retailers through its website, targeted publications, emails and SMS. “In partnership with our Public Affairs team, our Experiential Marketing team conducts something called ‘Friday Funday’ on the lottery’s Facebook page. These ‘events’ allow us the opportunity to engage with our players and educate them about everything from our mission to all of our games, including Keno. When it is appropriate for our Experiential Marketing team to conduct face-to-face events, they will be offering Keno free-play coupons to encourage players to give it a try,” said Klingel.

The lottery also developed an educational “how to play” video to teach players about Keno. “Players who watched the entire video were rewarded with a Keno coupon. The promotion allowed us the opportunity not only to educate our players, but also drive them to a visit with one of our valuable retail partners,” said Klingel.
Keno currently is not offered on the iLottery platform, though it may be added at a future date.