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Keno – How to Play and History

Keno is an ancient game that is available to play at most online casinos and in several land casinos. However, despite how common it is, it is a game that is neglected by the vast majority of gamblers. In fact, many have never heard of it and often it is confused with bingo.

However, Keno can be a hugely exciting game and it also offers the chance of significant winnings without you having to worry about complicated rules or strategies. If you have ever wondered what Keno is but have never got round to investigating, then this article will provide you with all the information you could possibly need.

Keno Basics

Keno is most easily described as a lottery style game. Anyone who has ever bought a lottery ticket will find that it is very similar. In most games, players are asked to select numbers between 1 and 80. The game then draws 20 numbers using balls from a machine in a land casino or using a random number generator in an online game. Players then win if their numbers match those that were drawn. In this respect, it is very much like an instant lottery game.

Where Does Keno Come From?

While the work “Keno” has French or Latin roots (in French ‘quine’ meaning “five winning numbers” and in Latin ‘quini’ meaning “five each”), the history of Keno can actually be traced all the way back to the Han Dynasty in China, more than 3,000 years ago.

There are a number of legends surrounding the origins of the game. While it is not known how much truth there are to them, some of them are truly enjoyable. For example, there is one story that Keno was responsible for saving a city from falling during a war. The Han Dynasty, ruled by Cheung Leung, was caught up in a long and difficult war that was draining the city’s funds. Cheung Leung could not find a way to extract any more money from the city residents as he had already taxed them as much as he could. Instead, according to legend, he invented the game of Keno. It was designed to be a lottery to help raise money to finish the war. There are also stories that years later Keno was once again used to raise funds to help and pay for the Great Wall of China. However, historical records show that the lottery in China was not licensed until the 1800s, so there are significant doubts over the veracity of these legends.

What is known is that in the 19th century, Keno was called “white dove ticket” in China, and there is a nice story behind this. The results of games hosted in the larger cities where then sent to smaller villages out in the country using carrier pigeons.

The first evidence of actually lottery games taking place in China dates to 1847 when the Portuguese government in Macao decided to start awarding licenses to lottery operators. When Keno was first played in China, instead of using 80 numbers, it was played with 120 Chinese characters. Today it is still played with characters in China, but the number has been reduced to 80.

Keno was exported from China to the western world when Chinese immigrants travelled across the Pacific Ocean to America to help construct the First Transcontinental Railway. It was first played in San Francisco and the change to using numbers was made in order to attract American players who could not read Chinese.

However, in the early twentieth century, while gambling was legal in some states, lotteries were not and Keno was classified by the government as a lottery game. To get around this problem, Keno operators called the game “Racehorse Keno”, in order to dress it up as a racing game. Each of the 80 numbers on the Keno card was linked to a different race horse and each draw was referred to as a race. Once lotteries were legalised, many casinos went back to calling the game Keno. However, even today in some casinos you will see games of Racehorse Keno and many casinos retrain the “race” terminology.

How Can I Practice Keno?

While Keno is a very simple game and it takes no time to get to grips with, it is understandable that you may wish to practice playing before you risk your hard earned money on it. If you find Keno games online, you will nearly always be able to play them in demo mode, which is free of charge. A quick internet search for “free keno” is also likely to yield numerous results.

It is not unusual for land casinos to offer free Keno either. If you ask to play some practice rounds so that you can familiarise yourself with the game, you are likely to find that the casino to be amenable.

Are There Keno Games Outside of Casinos?

Yes. To this day there are Keno games run by lottery corporations. For instance, in the US you will find that there are state-backed Keno games in several states including Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Washington. If you are in any of these states then it is very easy to purchase a ticket and take part in the game. It is a similar situation in Canada where Keno is one of the most played lottery games in the country. It is run by all the regional lottery corporations.

Is Keno a Truly Random Game?

Yes. Whether you are playing Keno online or in a land casino, as long as you are playing at a trustworthy and properly licensed casino, then you can be sure that the game is truly random. In a land casino, where the 20 numbers are drawn from a rotating barrel, the equipment will be regularly inspected by authorities to ensure that it is truly random and fair. When playing online, when a random number generator is used, the software will have also been independently tested to ensure that it is fair to players.

Biggest Ever Winners

Just like the lottery, Keno has been known to award some enormous prizes, often in the millions. There have been several enormous winners over the years. For instance, at Sam’s town Casino in Las Vegas, one very lucky player, known just as Eddie, won an amazing $6.4 million.

Another lucky winner was a 68 year old at the Black Butt Hotel in New Lambton, Australia, who won $4.37 million. In fact, Australia seems to have produced a number of impressive Keno prizes, there was a player who won close to $7.9 million at the Northumberland hotel in Lambton and another player who won $3.17 million at the Jimboomba Country Tavern in Logan City.

What is the Difference Between Keno and Bingo?

It is very easy to understand why people mix up Keno and Bingo. Both involve number draws and card with numbers printed on them. However, there are a few important differences. The first is that in Keno, most games allow players to choose their own numbers. In bingo, players purchase cards that have preselected numbers. The other major difference is that in bingo the cards usually have a fixed price while in Keno there is normally more flexibility regarding the cost of each card.

What are Keno Formulas?

In recent times, gamblers have begun attempting to devise formulas to help them predict the results of Keno draws. In particular, they have been making use of Microsoft Excel to help them do this and it is possible to find many such examples on line. However, if you are playing at an honest casino, there will be no discernible pattern to the draws. It is impossible to influence the outcome of the draw and therefore, impossible to predict what will come next.

However, many players like to use a system or have their own superstitions about numbers. As long as you are gambling responsibly, not betting money you cannot afford to lose, and not relying on your gambling winnings financially, then there is no harm in trying to devise a system if you so wish.

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