Why Keno is the Ultimate Gambling Game

min read
White and gold lottery balls against a black and dark green background.
BetMGM Jul 28, 2022, 10:10 AM

Gamblers who enjoy playing online casino games will likely have played slots online or tried their hand at live dealer casino games at some point, but what about keno? This beloved game of chance has been played for hundreds of years and is still a top choice among players all around the world.

Are you interested in giving it a go? Then read on for everything you need to know about keno, including its unique history, how to play and why it’s considered a great game by so many.

The history of keno

Most experts believe that keno has its origins in China and that it dates back at least 2,000 years. Of course, it wasn’t always called keno. Back then, the game went by the name “baige piao” or “pai-ko p’iao,” which translates to “white pigeon ticket.” Baige piao spread quickly across China and was organized by gambling houses with permission from political authorities (who also took a cut for themselves.) Instead of revolving around numbers, like keno does today, the original game required participants to buy a ticket that comprised the first 80 ideograms found in the Chinese literature classic, Qianziwen “Book of a Thousand Characters.” Due to the book’s widespread popularity even to this day, buying tickets featuring ideograms remains the way that the game is played in certain Chinese regions.

In the mid-19th century, Chinese immigrants made their way to the United States and baige paio took off from there. By the early 20th century, it evolved into what was coined the “Chinese lottery,” attracting the attention of a fair number of American gamblers. By the 1930s, and now called keno, the game was adopted by various racehorse betting gambling houses in Nevada, with the difference being that the names of horses were used in place of ideograms and numbers. It was only in the 1950s that keno transformed into what we know it to be today, a game revolving around random number selection.

Fast fact: What’s interesting is that keno isn’t the only game that originated from baige piao. Experts also believe that both the lottery and bingo have their roots in this ancient Chinese game of chance.

How to play keno

One of this online casino game’s main advantages is that the rules are quite easy to learn. If you’re wondering how to play keno, you’ll first need to register to join an online casino community. From there, you can opt to play the game and will then need to pick between two and 20 numbers on your keno card. The card will display numbers from one to 80 and you’ll have the option to choose your own lucky numbers (contrary to the other popular game of chance, bingo, where you don’t have the option to select your own numbers) or to use the casino’s auto-pick technology to choose numbers at random. Once you’ve settled on your numbers, you’ll need to adjust your bet and then hit the “play” button. The game will then randomly select and highlight 20 different numbers on your keno card. Your payout is determined by how many of the randomly generated numbers match the numbers that you originally marked off.

Why is keno so popular?

Since it’s so simple to play, you might be wondering why keno is such a popular choice for people who love real money casino games. Here are a few reasons why it’s at the top of the list for so many individuals seeking out the ultimate gambling experience.

It’s extremely straightforward

As you can see above, the rules of keno are easy to understand, making it a leading favorite for both beginners who are just starting out in the gambling world, as well as for advanced gamblers looking for a break from those casino table games that demand thought, patience and carefully implemented strategy.

You choose your own pace and your risk

While it’s a game where the outcome is determined solely based on luck (or lack thereof!) you still have a lot of control over how you play keno. For starters, you can play as fast or as slowly as you wish. Secondly, you can choose your risk based on the number of games you play, how many numbers you choose per round and how much money you wager.

High availability

You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a play-to-win casino that offers keno! Many of the online casinos in the United States specialize in this game. It’s an online gambling favorite, so there’s no need to travel to a land-based casino to play.

It’s fun

The most important reason why keno is so popular is that it promises endless entertainment. There’s nothing more exciting than waiting to see if your gut feeling regarding the numbers is right, and nothing more satisfying than making matches! Just remember to play responsibly and to always go into a keno gaming session with a strict bankroll in mind. Since it’s so much fun, it’s easy to spend more than you can afford if you don’t have a set amount to work with.

Play casino games online at BetMGM

BetMGM is an online casino offering access to keno. We also specialize in casino table games, online slots, jackpot slots and other variety games, such as scratch cards and Slingo.

Feeling lucky? Then go ahead and register to explore our diverse menu of casino classics via our convenient mobile portal.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.