The history of Keno

The game of Keno's roots can be traced to ancient Chinese culture, where it started life as a children's poetic learning aid (“The Thousand Character Classic”), evolving into The Chinese Lottery, due to its one thousand non-repeating characters. General Cheung Leung noticed in 200 B.C. that the poem's non-repeating nature rendered it appropriate for other uses; namely gambling. Gambling is big at the Royal Vegas Casino.

Taking the first 120 characters from the vast Thousand Character Classic, he constructed an early 'lottery' in which participants had to mark the correct characters with a traditional inked brush in order to win. Profits raised from this draw were to directly go towards keeping Leung's stronghold secure.

Players had to choose a series of characters from the 120 available symbols. This 120 was also further split into eight mini-categories, as per the rules of the game. Draws were taken two times a day (morning and evening) when the game was played, with the emperor choosing characters at random.

If one's mini-category was chosen, then ten extra bets would be awarded as a prize. Likewise, if a mini-category was not picked, the player would incur a penalty of three bets.

In today's China, not much has changed, with the game retaining its name (Thousand Character Classic) and twice-daily draw intervals. The modern version requires 80 characters of a potential 1000 to be chosen, which are then sub-categorised on a card in groups of 10. Players pick a sub-category and can bet variable amounts of money on each sub-category in order to maximise their winnings.

Lured by the prospect of the 1800s Gold Rush, Chinese workers began emigrating to North America. Whilst they didn't always find the work they desired (many were used as railroad labourers), they did know how to have fun; soon the Chinese lottery spread to California and Nevada.

In order to evade Nevada's tough gambling laws, this 'Chinese Lottery' was renamed 'Horse Race Keno'. The core game remained the same, but each number drawn was represented by a fictional 'horse' in order to satisfy state laws and not be seen as a lottery draw.

'Horse Race Keno' was very similar to the original Chinese Lottery. 80 numbers were written down and placed into tubes. Of these eighty, twenty were then drawn at random. Through time, the tubes were replaced by balls of wood (known as 'peas' to players), which in turn were replaced by plastic bouncy balls, onto which numbers were written.

The US government soon grew wise to this 'Horse Race Keno' and began to tax the game from the early 1960s. Because of this, Online Casino Canada omitted the (now unnecessary) 'Horse Race' prefix and began to call it 'Keno' again. Before 1989, winnings were limited to $50,000 in Nevada, but since then the ceiling has been removed, making way for massive potential winnings.

Keno has since become popular in various formats all over North America, and is available online, on television, radio and in newspapers. Players can find the results of regular Keno draws in these media and win large cash prizes when partaking. Try it now!

How to play Keno

Keno differs from a lottery draw in that, only a certain amount of numbers may be picked. This amount is determined by the type of ticket purchased (Two is a “Two spots” ticket, Five is a “Five spots” ticket, etc.).

It bears similarity to a lottery in that it requires the player to mark their numbers on a ticket. If these numbers are matched by those drawn, the player wins. Prizes are often large in relation to the amount bet, making Keno a popular game.

The odds of winning at Keno (getting a correct number) are 0.25%, and likewise the chances of the house winning are 30%. Due to this, players are advised that this is primarily a game of fun rather than something for serious/skilled players. In saying this, players can increase their likelihood of winning by purchasing more tickets or a higher “spot” ticket. You can do this easily at the Grand Reef Casino if you pay this amazing virtual casino a visit.

To play, chosen numbers must be marked on the Keno ticket with a large 'X', along with the ticket price, number of games desired and the amount bet. The ticket is then paid for and the player is provided with a duplicate as a receipt and reference. If the player discovers that they have a winning ticket, the prize must be claimed quickly, before the next game.

Casino staff known as 'Keno Runners' are often provided as a means of quickly placing bets. Again, the higher the amount of numbers bet on, the higher the chances of winning.

When playing in a casino, tickets are usually laid out at the table of the Keno lounge. Numbers must be marked with X's (for which crayons are usually provided).

Keno tickets are usually numbered 1 to 80, and the player must mark from one slot up to a maximum of the type of ticket purchased (as mentioned above). Tickets allowing over ten “spots” are rare, but some casinos do run these variants.

Once the ticket is marked, the player must write upon it the amount of numbers chosen (up to their allowed maximum) and the number of games they wish to play (although some Keno vendors don't require this to be written). As an example, a player wishing to play 3 games would simply pay three times the price of their standard ticket. Many online casinos have deals for multiple purchases.

The player must then write the price in the box marked accordingly, and then register the ticket at the desk (known as the 'Keno Writer Desk'). The player is subsequently provided with the aforementioned carbon copy.

Again, prizes must be claimed quickly. If not, the prize is lost. Tickets usually contain words to this effect as a disclaimer.

A game is known as a 'race', the start of which is determined by the characteristic empty playing table.

After the game's completion, players must punch a hole in their ticket with the hole-punches provided.

The previous game's results are often displayed on nearby screens, allowing speculative players to judge whether they'd like to participate.