Interest high at state's bars with 'quick-draw' lottery

Friday, March 8, 2002

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- More than 250 bars across Missouri have been approved so far to offer a new "quick-draw" electronic lottery, state officials said Thursday. They project that number will nearly quadruple.

Meanwhile, dealers in jukeboxes and pool tables added their voices to criticism of Quick-Draw Keno, pressing instead to expand video poker from casino boats into thousands of Missouri bars.

Despite the criticism and ongoing legislative attempts to derail the new game, the Missouri Lottery Commission is pressing ahead to launch Quick-Draw Keno on June 1, said Jim Scroggins, the lottery's executive director.

The lottery got its marching orders from Gov. Bob Holden, who directed startup of the new game to generate an estimated $20.8 million for the next state budget.

Holden is grappling with drastically slumping revenue and has proposed several steps to reap more from gambling.

The lottery has already approved setting up Quick-Draw Keno machines in bars from Gallatin to Branson, from Cabool to St. Louis, said spokesman Gary Gonder.

The lottery projects that some 1,200 businesses licensed to serve alcoholic beverages will eventually be host to the devices, which are hooked into a central computer.

Players could select up to 10 numbers from a field of 80. The machine selects 20 winning numbers for display on a video screen. Wagers from $1 to $20 would be accepted, with jackpots ranging from $1 to $100,000. Players are paid based on the number of correct guesses, with numbers changing every five minutes.

"We've got pretty conservative customers, but there has been a lot of discussion on talk radio about the new game and I've heard high interest in checking it out," said Kathryn Fisk, bartender at Two Nice Guys Restaurant in Webster Groves, among businesses approved so far to be host to Quick-Draw Keno.

Excited about game

At the Iron Horse Saloon in south St. Louis, co-owner Tammy Thornton said her regulars, who already buy the lottery's pull-tab games, "simply enjoy gambling and they are real excited about this new game," adding that they think it's good to have legalized gambling in the bars, so they don't have to be on the casino boats.

Opposition has surfaced from state lawmakers, the riverboat casino industry and, on Thursday, from the Missouri Amusement Machine Operators Association -- dealers in tavern recreational devices such as pool tables, jukeboxes and electronic dart boards.

Speaking for the 160-member association, Tom Cobb of St. Joseph told the lottery commission that Quick-Draw Keno will inevitably siphon customer dollars from the machines sold and serviced by his industry that don't offer rewards to players.

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