History of Keno

Keno, a game similar to the giant state or provincially run lotteries, is easy to play and one of the most popular games in any casino. The game of keno was first introduced in China in 187 BC by the head of state, Cheung Heung, and involved the selection of 10 out of 120 Chinese characters.

This new form of lottery was created to recover funds for his government, and may also have been used to help fund the Great Wall. The game was brought to the US in the mid 1800's when thousands of Chinese immigrants came to work in the mines and on the railroad.

Keno Game Play

Keno is such a popular and exciting pastime because it offers the possibility of winning spectacular payouts on relatively small wagers. Keno can usually be played in the keno lounge, in most dining areas, or at portable keno stations on the casino floor.

If players wish to play keno outside of the lounge area, keno runners circulate the casino ready to place wagers, and numerous television monitors keep players informed of the winning numbers.

The keno numbers are printed on 80 individual ping-pong balls, which are either spun around in a wire bird cage, or blown around in a large clear plastic sphere. As each ball is selected, the winning number is electronically highlighted on the keno boards throughout the casino. The house draws 20 numbers out of the field of 80. Players can choose as few as one number or as many as 15. To place bets, a keno ticket, which has boxes for all 80 numbers must be filled out. The casino provides a keno crayon, which is used to mark down the selected numbers.

Keno Playing Options

A ticket can be marked with individual numbers creating a straight keno ticket, or with a group of numbers that give a better chance of winning. These are called way and combination tickets. A way ticket allows players to group different numbers (each group containing the same amount of numbers) to create more than one way to win. Players are given credit for hitting all three numbers if any one of the group hits.

A combination way ticket is one in which groups of numbers are bet several different ways, allowing money to be sprinkled over more combinations. Many experienced keno players will use these methods for a wider selection of numbers with a lower minimum wager, and a better chance to win.

Minimum bets and payoffs are different from casino to casino, but this information can be found in the keno lounge or in the instruction booklet. Players present their ticket along with their wager to a keno writer, and are issued a computerized ticket with the game number, date, ticket code, choices and the amount of the bet. It is the player's responsibility to compare the computer generated ticket to their original copy in the event of a discrepancy. Once the game is ready to start, betting will be cut off. When the 20 randomly drawn numbers are put up on the keno boards, players compare their ticket with the numbers displayed for the game played.

Multi-race keno allows multiple games to be played on one keno ticket. Most casinos allow anywhere from two to 20 games in a row, but some offer up to 1,000. The keno writer or runner must be told that a multi-race ticket is wanted. At the conclusion of the last game selected, players bring their multi-game ticket to the counter and claim their winnings from all the games played.