Isle of Man-based gaming supplier Link2Win is developing a new game aimed at the Keno market. Lottery industry consultant Stephen Wade gives his view on why KenoLinka outperforms traditional Keno games “in the ways that matter”.

In Keno, what matters is matching. Players are accustomed to picking numbers, waiting for the lottery to draw numbers, and seeing if their pick matches the lottery’s draw. Keno involves a very large number of balls, usually 80, and the lottery draws more balls than the player picks - typically 20 by the lottery, up to 10 by the player.

A player may win a prize, depending upon how many of the player’s picks are matched in the lottery’s draw.

In Link2Win’s new game, what matters is linking. KenoLinka differs in that few symbols are involved (just 9), and all of them are used by both the player and the lottery. KenoLinka comprises multiple games that are all part of one single big game resulted by a 9 number draw. The player arranges 9 symbols to cover every cell of a small 3x3 grid, and the lottery draws all the 9 symbols one at a time. If any two numbers drawn in sequence by the lottery also “touch” on the grid (i.e. occupy adjacent cells in any direction), the player scores a “link”.

Players win prizes depending upon how many links are achieved.

The most common played Keno games have top odds that range from 1 in 326 to about 1 in 9 million. The KenoLinka games have odds ranges and top odds that match and exceed these.

The charts below are representative and show why Keno works so well, and why new KenoLinka will work better.

Keno, as a draw game for lottery or casino, excels at keeping players engaged over a long period of time, with a new game every few minutes.

The chart for 4-spot keno illustrates one reason why Keno can do this: “near-wins” are the most common outcome. Low-level wins happen often enough to sustain a perception of winnability over hours of play. And the match of the game makes it possible to combine this actual play experience with top prizes that are hard to win, and thus can be of attractive size.

KenoLinka outperforms Keno in the ways that matter. It has a simple, visually appealing play style that produces more levels of outcome than a comparable Keno game, and thus gives the player a greater feeling of incremental success.

Most plays will be felt as “near-wins”. Wins occur often and graduate even more steeply to a top prize, enabling the designer to: allocate the prize fund to support bigger top prizes, create a more generous “likely win” experience, and even to provide both these benefits at the same time. Its prize structure agrees with principles known to be effective in instant games.

Our conclusions can be seen in full here, showing how the unique play style and small 9-element symbol set of KenoLinka make it practical for designers to use symbols other than numbers which “could be that start of a refresh that the lottery business needs”.

Dr. Stephen Wade has provided consultancy services on lottery draw and instant games to the North American lottery industry for a number of years. He has worked with the North American Association of State & Provincial Lotteries (NASPL) and served 13 years as research and development manager for the Washington Lottery.

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