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History of Keno

Keno is a numbers game that has been popular for 3,000 years now. Though most sources disagree on the details, it seems to be a commonly accepted fact that Keno originated in China. Most accounts credit the invention of Keno to Cheung Leung of the Han Dynasty in China sometime around 200BC.

The story, though apocryphal, says that Cheung Leung invented this game of chance to raise funds to save his city in the midst of a long drawn out war. Some accounts also say that Keno was invented to help fund the construction of The Great Wall of China. This game was very similar to what we know today as Keno. Cheung Leung’s game of chance was based on a popular contemporary poem, the Thousand Character Classic. This poem has 1000 Chinese characters, none repeated. The first 120 were used in this new game, sub divided into groups of eight characters. Players had to guess one sub division correctly getting all eight characters right to win. The modern version of this game is still played in China albeit with 80 characters instead of the original 120.

The game began to be known as The Game of the White Pigeon once its popularity spread. It was played in large cities and small towns too. The winning combinations were sent out to the surrounding areas by doves. Eventually the game was played across China. The rest of the world did not really know about Keno till the 20th century though other forms of lotteries and games of chance were known and were popular too.

There seems to be a consensus that Keno thrived in the USA when it came along with Chinese immigrants, especially in the San Francisco area. It was known as Chinese Lottery and was restricted to being played by the Chinese. This was mainly because the tickets bore the original Chinese characters. Sometime at the end of the 19th century these characters were dispensed with and a version bearing familiar numerals entered the scene. This change made the game immensely popular among Americans. 

Though gambling laws were relaxed in 1931 in Nevada there was no change as far as lotteries were concerned. They were still banned. To circumvent this oversight on the part of the law makers of the time keno operators designed keno tickets with horses, each number being represented by a horse. Thus each game became a ‘horse race’.

Keno found legal sanction in America eventually when off-track betting became taxable under law.  Keno took on its current name and has never looked back since.

Keno is one of the most popular games that can be played at numerous online casinos today. It is a simple game and it is this simplicity that makes it such a favourite with online keno players across the world today. The basic principle of the game is the same whether you play at an online casino or at a land based one. First you buy your Keno card or ticket. Every Keno ticket has 80 numbers on it. You choose up to 15 or 20 numbers (this varies from casino to casino) on your card. You register your chosen numbers at the teller and wait to see which numbers come up on the board. The more numbers on the board match the ones you’ve chosen on your card, the more you win.

You can bet on a straight ticket, a King ticket or a combination ticket when you are playing Keno. A straight ticket is the simplest with the numbers marked as a single wager. The King ticket has a circled number that is used in all the combination that will be wagered on. With a combination ticket the player can bet on multiple number groupings and combinations of the same.  This gets easy to understand as one plays just a couple of Keno games at the most.

There is some simple keno strategy that you can apply when you’re playing Keno. The first rule of playing Keno is that you must play it for the sheer pleasure of the game. Enjoy the anticipation as you numbers match up and bask in the thrill of the win when you do win. This is a simple game of chance and it is best played for the fun of the game. Make sure you set a limit to how much you are going to spend before you buy any tickets. Stick to this limit. Stay within that budget and you will find that you enjoy the game regardless of how much you win. Another simple thing to keep in mind is if you’re after smallish but frequent wins choose fewer numbers on your ticket. For bigger but rarer wins select more numbers.

Online keno is available on numerous online casinos today and it is a very popular online game. There are a number of different types of keno game such as Fortune Keno and Keno Xperiment but the end result is that it is the same game with different graphics. Check out our Free Keno game where you can also find that latest keno promotions and offers from various online casino rooms.

Written for Online Keno by Rhea Williams – Your Keno fanatic.