Keno is one of the world’s favourite casino games. It is very similar to modern lottery games, and you’ll be interested to learn that it is also one of the oldest gambling games in history.
The name of Keno has French and Latin roots, but the game is actually believed to have been invested in China during the Han Dynasty. The Han Dynasty existed over 3,000 years ago, making this an ancient pastime indeed.
The Legend Behind the Game
According to legend, the Han Dynasty (which was led by Cheung Leung) was embroiled in a long and difficult war that was draining the city’s coffers. Cheung Leung could not extract any more money from his people as he had already taxed them to their limit, so he found another way. Leung came up with a plan to introduce a brand new gambling game to the public.
The intention behind Keno was that it would work as a national lottery to help raise money to complete the war. Many years later, Keno would again be used to help raise funds to construct the Great Wall of China, as the legend goes.
According to historians, the Chinese lottery was not licensed until the 1800s, which casts some doubt on these legends and the truths behind them. Regardless, Keno definitely originated in China!
Changes Made Over the Years
The first versions of Keno were very different to the ones you play today. Our modern variations use 80 numbers, but traditional games were actually played with 120 Chinese characters. The game is still played like this in China today, although the number of characters on the board has also been reduced to 80 to fall in line with the Western version.
Many other lottery-style games were enjoyed in America and Europe before Keno was introduced there, but it didn’t matter. The game was an instant hit in the West, where it was first introduced by Chinese sailors in the early 1900s. During this time, the Chinese characters originally used in the game were changed to numbers, which made it easier for American players to understand, similar to the proliferation of online blackjack games.
A few decades later, gambling had been legalised in Nevada. Unfortunately, lotteries were not legal, and the government considered Keno as a form of lottery game. Operators got around this by calling the game ‘Racehorse Keno’ to market it as a racing game instead of a lotto. The 80 numbers on the card were linked with different race horses, and each draw was called a race. Once lottery games were legalised, many casino switched back to Keno, but some live casinos still offer Racehorse Keno to this day.
Convenient Online and Mobile Play
Today, it is easier than ever to play Keno for real money. Keno’s move into online and mobile casinos has meant that players across the globe can easily enjoy it night and day.
Online Keno is available at many iGaming sites for real money, and offers benefits like quicker draw times, flexible bet limits, and Random Number Generation technology. Clearly, online Keno is the way of the future!