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Critics say modified electronic keno still too risky

Electronic keno — will it be fun and games or wallet-busting addictive?

Electronic keno — will it be fun and games or wallet-busting addictive?

The Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation is rolling out electronic keno in 180 establishments throughout the province in March.

It involves buying tickets then watching the TV screen in the bar or restaurant a few minutes later for the winning numbers.

The NSGC rejected keno in 2007, but it’s going ahead with a redesigned version. Krista Grant, a NSGC spokeswoman, said there will be 10-minute mandatory breaks every hour, as well as a one-hour break every day from 4–5 p.m. Also, the maximum wager per draw is $10, half the industry standard of $20, and there will be on-screen and point-of-sale responsible gambling messages.

But the fact that 121 draws a day means someone could spend a maximum of $1,210 a day concerns Elizabeth Stephen, a problem gambling specialist with Capital Health Addiction Services.

She said it could be as problematic as VLTs, since both require a small amount of money at first, but can cost a lot over time.

“We know from other types of gambling that this is where people run into trouble, particularly when they feel they have some control over it. They’re picking numbers, deciding how much to bet and how many tickets, but really they have no control over the outcome.”

And setting the maximum bet at $10 is no guarantee, Stephen said.

“There’s nothing that says this is actually going to be safe. There’s no evaluation or proof that it’s going to make it safe,” she said.

Grant said they worked with “leading responsible gambling experts” who said this version of keno is one of the most progressive games by industry standards.

“What we want to do is minimize the risk of excessive play, while still maintaining some entertainment value for the sector,” she said.

“We’ve done our homework and we’ve implemented important characteristics … because we want to minimize the risk of excessive play as much as possible.”

 
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