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Keno History

The origin of Keno has a long history that dates back to thousands of years. The game of Keno has a name with Latin or French roots. However, the game is believed to have originated in China during the Han Dynasty around 3000 years ago. Keno history is a long and interesting part that has evolved over the years.


Keno was invented around 3000 years ago by Cheung Leung, a ruler of the great Han Dynasty. The game was based on a popular poem known as, The Thousand Character Classic. This poem was a way for people to learn counting, using thousand Chinese symbols. With 250 phrases with four characters each, the poem was written by Zhou Xingsi. Out of these 120 were used, subdivided into eight characters to each subdivisions. To figure out the winning or losing, whoever guessed right a whole subdivision was rewarded ten teals, a Chinese form of currency.


As the game spread, it came to known as the "Game of the White Pigeon" because gamblers used pigeons to transfer the winning scores of the game between players.


Keno history moved to America when the Chinese started working on the railroads. Initially, the game was considered illegal in casinos. But it was popular among the Chinese and was thus called Chinese lottery. Around that time only, the keno characters were changed into keno numbers.


When Gambling became legalized in 1931, lottery was still considered illegal in various casinos. But they wanted to keep the game, so they changed it into a so called horse racing game. Instead of simple numbers, numbers of horses were used to bet on. At this time, keno was given its name shortened from 'horse race keno'.


Keno was introduced to the casinos in the early twentieth century. Originally 80 numbers were written on pieces of paper and rolled up into tubes. At the start of the game, 20 numbers were drawn from the tubes and these were the winning keno numbers. With time the papers were replaced with wooden balls with numbers carved onto them.


Later a Nevada casino owner, Warren Nelson developed a system of drawing numbered balls from a rotating cage. He opened his own casino in Nevada in 1936, where the first legal casino Keno game was played. In 1963 the keno payout limit in Nevada casinos was $25,000. In 1979 it was doubled to $50,000. In 1989 the limit was removed by the Nevada Gaming Commission, and casinos were free to set their limits as they wish.


Keno was introduced in online casinos at the same time as the casinos developed. Keno has become one of the most popular online casino games.


Online Keno is played in the same way as the original game of keno. There are 80 numbers and the player can choose up to 15 of these numbers. The online keno machine then selects the 20 winning keno numbers. The winning payout depended on how many of the chosen numbers matched the winning keno numbers.


Keno history has certainly made a long way. With online keno developed in recent years, it has increased its popularity even more.

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