Over 3 000 years since it was first played, the Eastern lottery game of keno is now becoming increasingly popular with players from all over the world in both online and land-based casinos. Nevertheless, there are still many players who haven’t tried it yet, possibly because it appears to present such unfamiliar territory to Western players.
Fortunately, keno is actually an incredibly simple game.
The Origins of Keno
Most historians trace the origins of keno to around 1 000 BC, during the Han Dynasty in Ancient China. The fact that keno is rumored to have helped fund the construction of the Great Wall of China is testament to the popularity of the game in that region at that time.
By the 1800s, the game was being played throughout the country, with carrier pigeons used to transfer information to remote villages from the big cities, which is where the draws were held. This, in part, accounts for the name “keno”, which translates roughly as “white dove” in English. In particular, 1847 saw the beginning of a major boom in Chinese keno players as the then Portuguese government of the Chinese island of Malta began granting lottery licences to lottery operators.
When Chinese immigrants started to immigrate in large numbers to the United States via the first Transcontinental Railway, the game was introduced to Western players for the first time. By the late 19th century, keno had become a highly popular game all over the US.
Today, state-run keno lotteries are offered in Canada and in 16 US states.
How it Works
What makes keno so simple is that it is very much like the lottery games we already know and love. To play keno, players must select 20 numbers between 1 and 80. In land-based casinos, all 80 numbers are then placed into a hopper (a turning machine shuffles the balls) before 20 of them are drawn out at random. Players win if these numbers match the numbers they originally selected.
In online casinos, keno works almost exactly the same way, except that an electronic random number generator is used instead of a hopper.
Although some believe that strategy plays a role in success at keno, the reality is that this game is purely dependant on chance.
Major Keno Wins
Because Keno is so popular, the jackpots on offer are often massive, as one lucky Australian discovered when winning AU$4.37 million at the Black Butt Hotel in New Lambton. Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, a nurse’s aide cashed out a whipping US$6.4 keno million win.