How to Play Keno
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Image source: Santeri Viinamäki / CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most popular and exciting casino games is keno. It is available at retail casinos and also at online gambling sites. In this guide, we look at the rules of how to play keno and how you could potentially increase your chances playing the game. Keep reading to learn more about the popular lottery-style casino game.

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An Introduction to Keno

Keno is a popular lottery-style game that is played in many casinos and online gaming sites around the world. Keno is simple to play. All it entails is to correctly predict which numbers will be drawn randomly from a pool of 80 numbers. There are many different variant of keno online, each of which have their own set of rules, payouts, features and themes.

In this guide, we look at how to play keno, among other important trivia about the game. That includes the origins of the game, the advantages of playing keno online and how you could potentially increase your chances of winning when playing online keno.

The History of Keno

Keno has been around for over 2,000 years. The game originates from China during the Han Dynasty. It was known as “baige piao” which loosely translates to “white pigeon ticket”. According to legend, keno was invented by a Chinese rules named Cheung Leung. The story has it that he created the game as a method of raising funds for his army during a time of war.

Initially, keno was played using sheets of paper with Chinese characters printed on them. The game was played using a large bowl that contained all the numbers in it. Players would have to mark their cards by using a brush or ink. The outcome of each round would be determined by which charactered sheets were picked out from the large bowl.

Over the centuries, keno remained a popular traditional game in China. However, it is eventually spread to other parts of the world, making keno a more global game. It was first introduced into the Western world in the 19th century. Chinese immigrants who worked at the Transcontinental Railroad explained the rules of the locals, creating a spread of keno into a new continent. Their fellow workers and other Americans became more familiar with keno and how to play the game.

Initially, keno was known as “Chinese Lottery”. However, it adopted the name “Keno”, as this made it more appealing for American players. According to legend, the name keno comes from the French word “quine”, which means “five winning numbers”. Whether this was indeed the birth of the name or not remains unknown, although the growing popularity of keno could not be in question.

The Spread of Keno in the United States

One thing that cannot be denied is the increasing popularity of keno. Perhaps the reason why it became a globally recognized casino game is because of the United States. As we know, the United States (and Las Vegas specifically) has long been referred to as the home of gambling.

In 1931, gambling was legalized in Nevada, with keno becoming one of the first games introduced int the state. It was first played with using a large board with 80 numbers on it. Players would have to mark their chosen numbers using beans. Whenever the winning numbers were drawn, the players would win if they had their beans next to the successful numbers.

Keno is played in many casino and online gambling sites around the world. Nowadays, players can find many different variants of these games, particularly when playing online. The electronic versions of keno are more popular than traditional keno games. However, both of them are increasing in popularity and continue to be a favourite game among casual and serious gamblers alike.

How to Play Keno


The aim of the game in keno is to pick numbers from a pool of 80 numbers. Once you have picked your numbers, a draw takes place of random numbers from the pool. If you have successfully predicted some or all of the winning numbers that are drawn from the pool, you win. Essentially, that it the basic rules of playing keno and how you can win. However, to draw you an even easier way of playing, we have divided the steps of a keno round for you to see below.

1st Step – Choose your Numbers

Step one of playing keno online is to pick the numbers that you believe are going to be drawn from the pool of 80. You can pick any of the numbers, ranging from 1 to 80. Furthermore, you can also pick as many numbers as you like, up to a maximum of 20.

After picking you numbers, you can either mark them on your keno ticket, or you can use a quick pick option. The quick pick option is only available to players that are playing keno online. If they choose to use the quick pick option, the numbers are randomly selected for you by a Random Number Generator (RNG).

2nd Step – Place your Bet

The second step of playing keno online is to place your bet. Once you know exactly which numbers you are going to play with, and the number of picks you will pay for, you must place your bet. You must pay a certain amount for each of the numbers. It depends on if you want to pay more for a specific number or less for one. Furthermore, the more numbers you choose to play with, the bigger your bet will become.

Placing your bets online are a little easier than on traditional keno games. Online, you will simply have a spreadsheet that has all of the available numbers, and you must simply click on those ones that you back to be drawn. When playing traditional keno, you will have to mark your numbers using a pen and indicate how much you want to bet on each of the numbers.

3rd Step – Watch the Draw


After choosing your numbers and placing your bets, you must click on a round to begin. The keno round begins and an RNG selects 20 numbers from the pool of 80. This is done completely at random using an RNG that ensures that every round is random and fair.

The draw is typically the most exciting part of keno. It essentially decides the outcome of the round and you will know whether you have won or lost, depending on the numbers that are picked from the draw. When playing traditional keno, the draw is done using a machine that has all the numbers on checkered balls and the machine randomly picks the numbers out. The online version of the game uses a digital version of this machine and can pick out these numbers virtually.

4th Step – Check your Ticket

When playing traditional keno, you must check your ticket to find out if you have correctly predicted some or all of the winning numbers. When playing online, this step is done automatically for you, as the game knows the numbers that you have chosen and the drawn numbers.

Depending on whether you have won, how many numbers you have correctly predicted, and the size of your bet, the payout will vary. Essentially, the payout depends on the size of your bet and how fortunate you were when choosing your numbers. If the draw benefits your bet, online keno has been known to pay out substantial amounts.

5th Step – Collect your Winnings

If you have won, you will automatically be paid out when playing online keno. As for traditional keno, you will have to go to a keno counter and collect your winnings. That makes playing keno online far more exciting, as your winnings are paid out directly into your account.

It must also be said that the timeframe for playing online keno is impressive. From the time that you have chosen your numbers, placed your bets and watched the draw, you will instantly be paid out if you win. The virtual set-up of playing keno online automatically can identify winning numbers and awards a payout directly into your account once the draw has been completed.

The Advantages of Playing Online Keno

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It can be argued that playing online keno is better than playing traditional keno. Although the argument will have both sides backing their corner, online keno does appear to be the overall winner of this debate. Below, we will give you a few reasons why online keno is superior to the traditional format of playing. There are more games, more options, better payouts, bonus features, bigger rewards and far more convenient to play. Here’s why.


One of the main reasons why online keno is better than traditional keno is that you do not need to head on over to a betting terminal or casino to buy your ticket. Instead, you can simply play these games from your mobile device or desktop.

Online keno games can be played at anytime and anywhere, without the need to leave your house. You can automatically play keno and know if you have won or lost after the draw is complete. Even the fact that you do not need to check your numbers and that this is done automatically for you and the payout is made directly into your account. This also makes it easier to play online keno instead of having to check numbers and collect your winnings from a keno counter.


Another reason why players may choose online keno over traditional keno is because of the choices they have. When playing online keno, players will find many different themes, including the likes of fantasy, space, casino games, sports, nature, adventure, history, culture and more. Furthermore, players can also enjoy these games as they also vary in terms of betting size.

Online keno is known to have exciting animations, music and themes for players. Any online keno player will tell you about the innovative and creative benefit of playing online. This is lost when playing traditional keno, as they do not have the same ambience when playing.


The benefit of playing online keno is not lost when it comes to special features. These games are known to have various features within them. The features may include things like mini-bonus games, cash prizes, multipliers and so on. Furthermore, there are also several jackpot keno games. These are keno games that have a jackpot prize attached to them. You may find some, along with other games, at our latest jackpot ratings.

Online keno games offer a variety of different features, including the likes of bonus rounds and multipliers. Essentially, when playing keno online, players will find many different benefits from the features.


One of the best things about playing keno online is that you can find many different themes and the games use state-of-the-art visuals. The presentation of any keno game is exciting with animations, a soundtrack, sound effects and other perks like dancing symbols. The excitement of playing online is not lost, even though some may suggest so. Playing keno online still has the same thrill when the numbers are drawn from the pool and whenever you win a round.

Wider Betting Ranges

Online keno games are for all kinds of players. Both low and high rollers are bound to find betting that suits their needs. These games may even pay up to 50,000 times your bet. Thus, when betting only €/$0.01, you can still win as much as €/$500.

Ultimately, keno is a tremendous amount of fun. It does not require any betting strategies or knowledge to improve chances of winning. Online scratch cards are far more straightforward and easier to play. However, you can boost your chances using a few tips and tricks.

Tips and Tricks for Online Keno

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  1. Play for fun: Keno is a game of chance, and the odds are not always in your favor. Play for the enjoyment of the game, rather than with the expectation of winning.
  2. Manage your bankroll: Set a budget for yourself before you start playing and stick to it. Do not bet more than you can afford to lose.
  3. Choose your numbers carefully: Some keno players have lucky numbers that they always choose, while others prefer to let the computer generate random numbers. There is no right or wrong way to choose your numbers, but remember that the odds of winning are the same no matter how you choose your numbers.
  4. Check the pay table: Different keno games have different pay tables, which determine the payouts for winning bets. Make sure you understand the pay table before you start playing.
  5. Play the right game: Some keno games have better odds than others. Look for games that offer the best odds of winning, such as games with a lower number of spots or games with a progressive jackpot.

How to Manage your Bankroll

As our more experienced players will tell you, managing a bankroll while playing is definitely a way to increase your chances of winning. The way to do this is by setting a budget before you start playing and sticking to it. To set a budget, you will have to determine how much you are willing to lose while playing.

Another tip to use here is to estimate how long it takes for you to burn through that budget. That way, you will have a timeframe of how long you want to play for and the budget that you are prepared to gamble with. It is a great way to know when to stop playing and eliminates the addictive nature of chasing your losses.

The Bottom Line

Thus, we hope that now you know how to play keno. Essentially, playing keno online is more advanced than playing traditional keno. Players can find a variety of different games that each have their own set of rules, payouts, themes, features and more. When playing online keno, the gameplay is more exciting, and the understanding of the game is easier. This is because every round is automatically paid out if players choose successful numbers. To play keno online, have a look at our collection of jackpot games that have similar rules and payouts.

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