What is Keno? Rules and Wagering

Keno is loved by millions, very easy to play and similar in many ways to a lottery. The rules of Keno are simple and there is a chance for the player to win a large payout for a small initial investment. The name of the game, KENO, has it’s roots in Latin or French (Fr. quine five winning numbers, L. quini five each) but legend has it that Keno was invented in China over 2000 years ago as a state-funded lottery during a war.

The legend goes on to tell us that the lottery was also instrumental in financing the unification of China into a nation and for funding construction of the Great Wall. Sources say that the results of these ancient lotteries where sent from the major Chinese cites to the countryside by carrier pigeon.

While modern reasearch has found that state-funded lotteries did not begin in China before 1847, it is a fact that game was brought to the western world by Chinese immigrants when they came to America to help build the railroads. From its humble roots in the west among these Chinese workers, Keno has evolved into the exciting Casino game we have come to know today.

Rules and Wagering

The keno gamecard is a printed ticket with the numbers 1 to 80 marked on it. Each individual keno game is called a “Race”. The player will choose which wagers they wish to select from the keno pay table and then select their numbers accordingly. When the race starts, balls are pulled one at a time from a hopper using 80 balls marked 1 to 80 until 20 numbers have been selected. As each number is selected, it is posted on the Keno Game monitors that are found at the keno game booth and throughout the casino.

Players have a wide variety of wagers to select from the keno payout table. Players have the option of selecting from 1 to 10 numbers, selecting the four outside corners or making ‘Way” bets by circling groups or combinations of numbers. The player may also play a “Split Ticket” in which a line is drawn through the ticket dividing the ticket into 2 tickets of 40 numbers. There is such a large variety of wagers on keno payout tables that the player must consult payout table at the casino where they are playing. Some casinos may offer as many as 25 or more different paytables to choose from and the odds favor the house from 4% to 66% unlike the typical house edge in non-slot games of 0% to 5%. With a strong house edge keno is a game to be played for passing the time and enjoyment and not for profit. In land based casinos, a player can buy a keno game ticket, then go eat dinner or play blackjack and check their keno game ticket after the game is played. Convenience and fun is the name of the game.

Casinos also offer the option of playing “Multi-Race” keno, in which the player enters their ticket in a series of up to 1000 sequential keno races. At the end of all the races, the player may collect any winnings. Each casino will have their own rules and time limits for turning in winning multi-race tickets and the player should always read these first.