Keno History

Keno History

The keno game has a fascinating history that lies in ancient China.

Overview of Keno

Keno is a type of lottery game with a rich and interesting history. The roots of keno lie in ancient China where it is believed to have been invented by a leader Cheung Leung, who desperately searched for a way to produce funds for a weak and disillusioned army.

Keno Origins

Legends tell of a game created by Leung in order to raise money from the local people rather than raising taxes. Leung’s objective via the game was to save his city. The game itself could be considered as a form of bingo or lottery for which the villagers would buy tickets to participate. The game involved the selection of Chinese characters out of a choice of 120. The keno game proved to be very appealing to the villagers and very successful. It is told that using money raised from keno, Leung was able to strengthen his army and the city was kept safe. It is also widely believed that funds that were raised from this pursuit were used to build the Great Wall of China.

Keno in America

It appears that keno’s arrival in the United States* was in the early 19th century, together with Chinese immigrants that entered the country to work on the railways. These immigrants brought with them a part of their history and culture in the game of keno. In order to provide this game with a more general appeal and to make it more attractive to the Americans, numbers soon replaced the original Chinese characters.

In the 1930s, keno made its way into the United States casinos. However, there was just one little problem. At that time, lottery pursuits were prohibited from casinos. In order to get around this obstacle and to find the keno pursuit a place inside the casino walls, keno became known as ‘horse race keno’. Once regulations were changed and taxes were added to racing that took place away from the tracks, the horse race part of keno’s name was then dropped.
*Note; Online Gambling is illegal in the US

Online Keno

Following keno’s success in the land based casinos, it seems only a natural part of the evolution of the game that keno would also find its way online when the time was right. Thanks to technological advances and the creation of the Internet, the first of the best online casinos were introduced in the middle of the 1990s. Along with a variety of other exciting casino pursuits, keno was adapted for online play while keeping the basis of the original game. In the online version of keno, a player may choose between one and twenty numbers out of a possible eighty, rather than the original one hundred and twenty.

The game of keno seems to have come a long way since the days of the building of the Great Wall of China and into today’s best online casinos. Even though it is clear that modern online casino gaming could not have been further from Cheung Leung’s thoughts at the time of keno’s inception, it is interesting to note that that this has transformed into an attractive form of casino entertainment.