Keno

Keno is a simple and fun game that resembles a lottery in many ways. The game is fast and comes with jackpots attached in some casinos, adding to its lure and popularity. You pick a set of numbers and then hope that they match the numbers the casino calls out. You find this cool casino game - one of the oldest - at a large number of online casinos commonly in the ‘Other Games’ or ‘Specialty Games’ section.

Keno has a significantly higher house edge than most other online casino games. It is anywhere between 25% and 30% at land-based casinos and up to 12% at online casinos. Despite the high house edge, this game is popular because it gives high returns on even low bets. Before we learn more about this exciting casino game we take a look at the history of the game.

The Best Keno Casinos For UK Players

One thing about keno you should understand - there are no standardized pay tables, unlike in most other online casino games. Where you play the game has a significant impact on the odds of winning. That is why we have listed for you the top casinos offering keno in the UK.

Brief History

Keno is probably one of the oldest gambling games to feature at online casinos today. The origin of the game goes back to over 3000 years in China, almost 200 years before the New Age. The person credited with its origin is Cheung Leung, the ruler of the Han Dynasty. The game was devised as a way of making commoners contribute to the state coffers without raising the spectre of tax riots. It also gave the peasants something to keep their mind off the high tax regime and the grim conditions prevailing because of decades of war.

Keno remained within China for more than 2000 years. Only when trade between China and the USA started in the 19th century did the game make its way out to the world. While there is no confirmation on how exactly the game reached the USA, common belief is that it was brought to the USA by migrant workers and crew on trading ships from China.

When gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931 Keno, then called Chinese Lottery, did not make initially it to the casinos as lotteries were still considered illegal. Casino operators attached a horseracing theme to the game, since horseracing was legal and introduced it to people. That is why a keno game is called a race. Today, keno is a popular game at many land-based casinos and the Internet helped spread its popularity further through online casinos.

How to Play Keno - Basic Rules and Game Play

While keno is a quick and easy game to play. Many people say keno is a combination of bingo and lottery, which is why knowing the rules becomes important for you to be able to play well.

The following are the basic keno rules:

  • Every player receives a keno card that has 80 numbers on it. At a land-based casino is a slip of paper while at an online casino it is a chart on your computer screen with numbers on it.
  • You have to choose at least 1 number on the card. The maximum number varies depending on whether you are playing at a land-based casino or online. You can choose between 10 and 15 at an online casino and 20 at a land-based casino.
  • You can also let the online casino select random numbers for you. Scientifically this doesn’t make a difference because in keno every number has a 1 in 80 chance of being hit.
  • The casino/computer chooses 20 numbers of its own. At a land-based casino the caller calls out the winning numbers.
  • At an online casino they are highlighted on the chart shown on the screen.
  • Every correct number you choose is called a hit.
  • The more numbers you choose the lower will be the payout ratio.
  • The more hits you have the higher the payout will be.
  • At an online casino you can choose how many games you want to play by clicking the relevant button at the bottom of the screen. The standard options are:
    • 1 game
    • 5 games
    • 10 games

Follow the steps below to play keno at an online casino:

Keno Basics: Common Terminology

Knowing the game is great but it works even better when you are aware of the terms commonly used and what they mean. The following is a list of commonly used terms in keno.

TermDefinition
Aggregate LimitIt is the total amount that a casino is liable to pay out in a single keno game.
All or NothingThis is a type of keno ticket that pays out in only one of the following 2 instances:
  • All the numbers you picked are drawn.
  • None of the numbers you picked are drawn.
Blank TicketThis is an unused keno ticket.
CallerA land-based keno term that refers to the casino employee calling out the numbers as they are drawn.
CatchThis is a marked number on a keno ticket that is called during a game.
Catch-AllA keno game that pays out only if all the numbers you picked are called.
Catch-ZeroA keno game that pays out only if none of the numbers you picked are called.
Combination TicketA keno ticket made up of several different bets.
Computer TicketA computer-generated keno ticket.
DeuceTwo keno spots grouped together.
DrawThis term refers to the numbers drawn during a game of keno. The draw is usually between 10 and 15 numbers in online keno and typically 20 numbers in land-based keno.
Draw SheetFound in land-based casinos, this is a sheet with holes punched on number drawn in previous rounds to make checking the ticket for the current round easier.
Exacta TicketThis is a ticket that is played for two games and has a unique payoff rate.
FlashboardThis is the electronic board that displays the winning numbers in a land-based casino.
Free PlayA keno win that does not pay out; it lets you to play your bet again the next round.
High End TicketA keno ticket that pays more if you catch a high number of spots and less (or nothing) if you catch fewer spots.
HitA term you use when one of your numbers is drawn in a game of keno.
House EdgeThe winning edge that the casino enjoys over the player. It is expressed as a percentage value and represents how much the casino - referred to as the house - is expected to win in the long run. In online casinos this is usually below 12%, while in land-based casinos it can be as high as 20-30%.
KingA single number that is circled on a keno ticket and which works with other numbers to make a bet.
King TicketThis is a ticket containing one or more kings.
Left-Right TicketThis is a keno ticket that is marked vertically down the center. The objective is to catch numbers in only one half of the ticket.
Outside TicketThe official ticket that is given to the player as receipt for their hand-marked ticket and bet.
Quick PickA computer-generated keno ticket.
RaceThe term used for a keno game. This name comes from the time when casino operators introduced keno with a horseracing theme, since the lottery was still illegal, in Nevada. Each number on a ticket represented a horse in a race.
RunnerHe is the casino employee who collects keno tickets from players who are sitting in different areas of the casino and also pays out the winners.
Straight TicketThis is a standard keno ticket.
Split TicketA keno ticket with more than one set of numbers that are played separately.
Top-Bottom TicketA keno ticket that is marked horizontally across the center to catch numbers in only one half of the ticket.
WayThis term refers to each separate bet placed on a keno ticket that contains more than one bet.

Similarities between Keno and Bingo

Keno and bingo are 2 separate games, but there are similarities as well:

  • They fit perfectly into the casual gaming segment of casino gambling and also social gaming in general.
  • They both are based on the same principles that govern lotteries. Players draw numbers and the casino calls out its own set of numbers, all at random.
  • You get paid based on the number of hits. The difference is in bingo the first person to get all the numbers called out wins.
  • In the land-based versions, both the games use a similar device to generate and announce the numbers. A blower inside the device spins the ball and it pops out through a tube.

Basic Keno Strategy

Keno is a game of chance and strategy really does not have anything much to do with the game, unlike in games like blackjack or even poker. There are a few things that you can do right to ensure you minimise your losses and increase the chances of winning.

  • Be careful about the numbers you choose. While you can choose up to 20 numbers in land-based keno and 10-15 in online keno, you must understand that choosing more numbers is no guarantee of higher or more wins. Each number still has a 1/80 probability of being hit, and the chances of getting 5 out of 20 are always going to be higher than getting 10 out of 20 correct.
  • Check out all the betting options. There are a number of betting options available in keno. Working with bet combinations - like mixing way bets and combination bets - allows you to split your betting and also preserve bankroll.
  • Check out the casinos for the best keno deals. There are quite a few casinos where the bonuses for keno will be juicier than at others. Research your casino thoroughly before signing up to play keno to ensure you get the best deals.
  • Check for progressive jackpots. There are keno games that come with progressive jackpots nowadays. A jackpot, if you hit it, gives you big money. Ensure that you check out the odds of that happening, otherwise you will end up spending money unnecessarily.
  • Play for free first. Playing in practice mode allows you to get used to the game and the casino environment and also gives you a fair idea of how the numbers fall, all without having to spend real money.

Some Keno FAQs

Here we list a few commonly asked questions relating to keno.

How does the keno draw work?

You have to pick up to 20 numbers from the 80 shown on your keno card (10-15 numbers if you are at an online casino). A total of 20 numbers are then drawn out of the 80 numbers available. The numbers you picked are matched with the numbers drawn and you win or lose depending on how many of them match.

Am I allowed to play multiple games at the same time?

Yes you have the option of playing multiple games at the same time. If you are an online casino, all you have to do is click on the buttons for multiple draws. You can usually play 5 or 10 draws consecutively by clicking any of these buttons.

How do I win the maximum payout in an online keno game?

You win the maximum payout if all the numbers you picked match the numbers that the casino drew. Also, it depends on the amount you are wagering; playing the max bet will give you the absolute maximum payout provided all the numbers match.

Can I cancel my bet while playing keno?

Canceling a bet is not possible in keno once you have confirmed it.

Who or what is a keno runner?

A keno runner is someone you find at land-based casinos only. They are present to help you play keno regardless of where you are at the casino. They do this by bringing blank tickets, crayons and also spare change to enable you to quickly fill out a ticket, make the payment and give it to the runner. Should you win, the runner brings your tickets and winnings to you. At an online casino the runner is not necessary.