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Keno Overview


A brief look at the game of Keno shows that this is a game with some of the worst odds in the gambling industry. Yet Keno is also one of the most popular pastimes for a wide number of reasons. This lottery-based game of chance still has the appeal of a large payout if the player is lucky enough. It is also easy enough to understand within minutes and can be played as a respite between tougher, more complicated gaming sessions.

While the popularity of Keno began at offline casinos, it has made a seamless transformation to the world of internet gambling and is considered one of the most lucrative options at online casino sites today.


Like many favorite gambling pastimes found in casinos today, Keno can trace its roots directly to ancient China. According to history, the famous Chinese general, Cheung Leung, used Keno in a tax form to fund his military operations against attacking barbarians. In fact, rumor has it that the general used much of the funds to build the Great Wall of China. The game was played by the Chinese for centuries and was transported over the seas to North America when the first Chinese workers came as migrants to help build the railroad. In the United States, Keno was known as Chinese Lottery.

In 1936, casino mogul Warren Nelson introduced Keno to his casino in Nevada after the name was changed to Horse Race Keno to comply with the state’s gambling laws. Until today, Keno is known in some circles as ‘the races’. When maximum payout laws were abolished in Nevada, casino operators could finally offer the massive prizes that players had been demanding and the popularity of Keno soared beyond all expectations.

As mentioned, Keno went online as soon as internet gambling came onto the scene in the 1990s, making this exciting game accessible to literally millions of players around the world and increasing its appeal even further.


The objective of Keno is to match as many numbers as possible between those that appear randomly on the Keno board to those that were selected by the Keno and marked on his or her Keno card. The more numbers correctly guessed, the higher the payout.


All or Nothing: A Keno ticket that will pay out if the selected numbers are drawn or if no selected numbers are drawn.
Blank: A Keno ticket that has not been used.
Call: The act of announcing the winning numbers.
Combination Ticket: A Keno ticket with several different wagers on it.
Deuce: Two Keno numbers grouped together.
Edge Ticket: A Keno ticket with all 32 numbers along the edge marked off.
Free Play: A win that does not pay out money but allows the player to play the bet again.
Hit: When a called number matches a selected number on the Keno card.
Keno Board: The sign that displays the hit numbers in the casino.
Left-Right Ticket: A Keno ticket that is marked vertically down the middle.
Pay Any Catch Ticket: A ticket that pays something, irrespective of how many spots are hit.
Push: A win that is equal to the amount of money that was wagered.
Quick Pick: A Keno ticket that has had its numbers chosen by the computer or casino.
Race: A single Keno game.
Sleeper: A winning Keno ticket that was not presented for a payout.
Spot: A number marked on the Keno card.
Top-Bottom Ticket: A Keno ticket that is marked horizontally down the middle.
Way Ticket: A Keno ticket with two or more bets.

How to Play/Game Rules

Keno in a Land Casino:

Keno that is played offline is usually done in a specially designated area within the casino called a Keno lounge. Keno booths are scattered around this area where players hand in their Keno cards and also collect their winnings if necessary.
It is also possible to play Keno in video Keno format where players simply play in front of a screen within the casino.

 Players select numbers (usually up to about 15) from the numbers 1 through to 80 on the Keno board.
 The numbers are marked on the Keno ticket.
 The Keno ticket is handed back to the Keno booth together with the wager.
 The eighty numbers are then mixed together, and the random number generator selects twenty of them.
 The player checks to see if enough selected numbers (called spots) came up on the Keno board to warrant a payout. If so, the winnings are collected from the Keno booth.

Keno Online

While the basic premise of Keno played on the internet is the same as the game played in a land-based Keno lounge, there are naturally physical differences and some technologically-enabled conveniences that cannot be found offline.

 The player is presented with a screen of eighty numbers (one through to eighty).
 The player maneuvers the betting stake selector to choose how much to wager in the game.
 The player selects which spots he or she wants to submit for the Keno draw.
 The payout odds are usually displayed on the side of the computer screen.
 The player presses the PLAY button.
 The Random Number Generator draws the winning numbers.
 When all twenty balls are drawn, they are displayed on the screen.
 Any winnings are automatically credited to the player’s account.
 The player is immediately offered the option of playing again.
 An advantage of online casino is that players can use the auto function that plays the game automatically for them within the limits set; as well as the auto pick function that selects random numbers for the player without the need for him or her to keep pressing chosen numbers.

Tips and Strategies

 Accept that Keno is a game of chance and, just as there is nothing much you can do to influence the outcome of your favorite lottery, so too is tere not much to do about the final results that turn up on the Keno board.
 Keno players are divided about which numbers to pick. Some insist that sticking with the same numbers all the time will eventually lead to a good payout, while others say that changing the numbers all the time gives them a better spread on the luck.
 Some experts agree that players who play the top two lines only and select one, two, five, ten, eleven plus two other numbers of their choice will hit at least 5/7 within an hour.
 Don’t forget to claim your winnings. Some brick and mortar casinos give players only a few minutes to make their way to the Keno booth to get their payouts.
 To win small prizes, but more frequently, you should choose a smaller amount of numbers to wager on. If you want to go for the bigger prizes, you should choose more numbers to wager on but if you do this, remember that your chances of winning are smaller. The more numbers you bet on, the smaller your chances of winning a prize.
 Set yourself a bankroll and stick to it! Allow yourself enough money to get through a few rounds of Keno at least but make sure that this is money that you can afford to lose if you do. Try to get your money to stretch by taking advantage of bonuses and promotions offered by casinos, but make sure that you read the small print first!
 Although Keno is one of those games that is easily understood within minutes, you cannot go wrong with a little bit of practice before you start to play for real money. For that reason, it’s wise to take advantage of free online Keno at your favorite site and get in a few practice games before going for the real action.
 Keep it slow. There is no need to rush your game of Keno, as tempting as it may be!


One of the biggest draw cards to Keno is the simplicity of the game – anyone who has ever played the lottery will understand Keno in no time. This, coupled with the game’s rich history, its big payouts and relaxing atmosphere, ensures that Keno continues to grow from strength to strength.

See our Keno Reources page for further links to useful Keno sites and pages.






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