When it comes to online lotteries, there are more choices available to the average player than could possibly ever be played by a single human being. You can play the lottery for countries that you have never heard of and states you have never visited, with options for payouts ranging from cash prizes to household appliances. The variance is truly staggering.
The game Keno is a huge part of this online picture, which makes sense given Keno’s lineage. When a game has managed to survive for what may be thousands of years, it’s easy to see why its popularity may have transitioned online with such ease. Humans have been playing variations of Keno for large swathes of recorded history, and the story of this intriguing game begins with war.
The Keno Story Begins
The word “Keno” is rooted in the Romantic languages of Europe; the French quine (for “five winning numbers”) and Latin quini (for “five each”). Despite the decidedly-European name, it is widely accepted that Keno can trace its routes back to imperial China.
It’s fair to say that taxation, though necessary, has never been popular. The leader of the Han Chinese dynasty Cheung Leung discovered this to his cost. As is always the way of imperial regimes, the Han Dynasty were warlords who sought to conquer and capture surrounding land. What is now known as the “Southward Expansion of the Han Dynasty” in the 2nd century BCE -- a series of battles to capture what is now southern China and North Vietnam -- was a crowning glory of the imperial age.
The only problem with crowning glories is that they are expensive. After decades of prolonged war, the population the Han Dynasty ruled were growing frustrated with the endless request for money to fund the expansionist crusade. So what does an imperial ruler do when the masses are growing restless with your requests for funds? Raise taxes again, and risk rebellion? Or create a game that people will partake in for pleasure?
Cheung Leung chose the latter option, and what we now call Keno was born.
Keno is a deceptively simple game, which allowed it to be played by the masses of ancient China and the modern online player with relative ease.
- Most Keno games involve numbers between 1 and 80, though some larger games (such as 1 to 100) do exist. For simplicity, let’s use the standard 1-80 for the purpose of this description.
- Players pay to buy entry into a Keno game. This entry buys a card into a Keno game; the card (both on and offline) is a series of numbers.
- Players choose their numbers from their purchased card.
- The amount of selections you can make per set of numbers varies depending on who is providing the Keno game. Some casinos will allow a selection of up to 10 numbers per card; others allow as high as 20.
- 20 numbers are then drawn at random by the casino. In offline games, the withdrawal is done in much the same way bingo is called. Online casinos prefer to use electronic random number generators.
- Players win the biggest payout if they match all of their numbers with the numbers drawn.
- As players pick as many or as few numbers as they wish, the more numbers they choose, the harder it is to win. This is reflected in the size of the payout.
- For example, if a player picks eight numbers and matches them all (which has a low level of probability), they will win far more than a player who just picked two numbers and matches them all.
The “Way” System
Part of the joy of Keno is that there are several ways to win. Matching all of your chosen numbers is the obvious classic way and will carry the largest payouts. However, you can increase your chances of some winnings by betting on more than one eventuality.
Keno can be as simple, or as complicated, as a player wishes to make it. The potential payouts will reflect the probability of the bet being placed. For example, the “way” system of betting allows the player to increase the chances to win.
- The player can pick, for example, five numbers. If any one of these numbers comes up, they will stand to win something.
- The player shows that they are betting on this eventuality by writing ⅕ on the side of their card if betting in a casino. Alternatively, if playing online, this can be selected as an option.
- Alternatively, if a player wants to bet on two of four upcoming numbers, then they would write 2/4 instead.
If that sounds a little complicated, here’s how it works in practice. Let’s say a player chooses five numbers. These are:
The players write ⅖ on the side of their card. If for example, 11 and 40 are among the numbers drawn, the player will receive a payout. Naturally, this payout would not be as much as it would be had they matched all of their numbers, but the way system does increase the chances of winning something.
The “Bonus Ball” System
Most, though not all, Keno games will feature the drawing of a bonus ball-- this is sometimes referred to as the “bullseye”.
- If a player has picked the bonus ball as part of their initial selection, they stand to win many times their initial stake.
- Players need to state upfront that they are betting on the bonus ball and will be charged extra to do so.
- The charge for playing for the bonus ball varies between games. Sometimes, entry into the bonus ball draw will be just $1, or it might be twice their initial stake.
- This might sound expensive, but it’s a calculated risk. If a player has selected the bonus ball, the payouts are substantial.
These additional methods of winning may sound completely straightforward-- or you may still be rather confused. Rest assured; Keno is a game that you learn by doing more than reading. In an online casino, you should make sure to play a few demo games before paying for the real thing. In a real-life casino, you should ask a Keno worker to take you through the different options step-by-step before putting your hard-earned cash on the line.
If any game could be described as “everybody wins”, then Keno is just about the closest example. There’s money to be made for the entity running the game, and there’s a chance of winning for the person playing the game.
For the company -- or the ancient Chinese ruler, as the case may be -- the benefits of running Keno are easy to understand. More money will be collected in wagers than is ever paid out, ensuring that a healthy profit is generated.
It’s easy to see why this method found popularity during the Han dynasty. Wars were endless; a constant financial demand on the populace, who were growing ever more frustrated with the need to dip into their pockets to fund expansionist dreams. Rather than forcing the populace to pay into a system, they saw little benefit from, the creation of Keno offered a bit of fun, a chance to make money-- far preferable to yet another unavoidable tax.
Sadly, it must be noted that much of the history of the usage of Keno is not particularly reliable from a historical point of view. The story comes from an era of prehistory, meaning there is little-recorded evidence to verify that Keno was used to raise funds from an already overtaxed populace. Nevertheless, the story is enduring, suggesting that there may be some merit to it.
It is not just war and expansion that Keno is believed to have been used for; in fact, Keno is linked with the creation of one of mankind’s most impressive achievements. Legend suggests that the construction of the Great Wall of China was funded partly by using Keno. Again, when discussing such ancient history it is impossible to be truly certain, but there’s likely to be some truth when a legend manages to endure for over 2,000 years. It could, therefore, be argued that Keno has earned its place in the history of mankind, used to fund the disaster of war as well as grand architectural projects that still stand to this day.
Fun Fact: Despite popular myth, the Great Wall of China is not visible from space-- it’s simply too narrow. Skylab astronaut William Pogue thought he had seen the wall from lower earth orbit… but he was mistaken; he’d been looking at the Grand Canal of Beijing.
Transition To The Western World
It’s fair to say that Keno took its time to transition into the western world. Its lineage in modern, western culture is most commonly traced back to the 20th century when Chinese soldiers are thought to have introduced the game to San Francisco. The game was originally played using 120 Chinese characters; these were indecipherable to the Americans, so the modern system of numbers was soon introduced. Over time, the recognizable 80-number Keno became the norm.
The Nevada Quirk
Keno’s transition to American shores was not an easy one, however. The most interesting quirk comes regarding the state of Nevada; as we all know, a state that has gambling at its core. While gambling was legal in 20th century Nevada, lotteries -- which, at its core, is what Keno is -- were not. Despite this, the game was popular and Nevadans are not a group to turn down willing players; so they renamed Keno “Racehorse Keno”. The numbers were associated with a (fictional) horse, and the drawing of the numbers (horses) was called a “race. Even to this day, the drawing of numbers in Keno is sometimes referred to as a “race”.
Fun Fact: Nevada is one of only six states that does not run a state lottery system-- because the gaming business doesn’t want the competition.
Playing Online At PlayHugeLottos.com
PlayHugeLottos.com have added Keno to their already large array of games on offer, so if players want to dabble in this ancient classic, there’s no better time to do it.
First and foremost, players will need to select which option they’re going to want to play. There are two options at PlayHugeLottos.com, both drawn from the standard 80 numbers:
- Keno 9 involves players choosing nine numbers
- Keno 12, as one might expect, involves players choosing 12 numbers.
It’s possible to play both, though players will need to select different numbers for each game.
The huge benefit of the Keno version offered on PlayHugeLottos.com is the speed. Conventional lotteries are very much a case of “hurry up and wait”, but with this version of Keno, the most you’re going to be waiting is two minutes and 58 seconds. Draws are made every three minutes, a fantastic turnaround for players who are always impatient to see how their choices have panned out.
The gameplay is simple; the website well-designed and -- crucially for the modern world -- optimised for mobile viewing. The last point there is perfect if players often find themselves bored during their rush hour commute and want something light and fun to distract them. One particularly fun twist is perfect for players who aren’t keen on choosing their own numbers; instead, players can hit “quick pick” and receive a computer-generated selection. This is a great choice if players aren’t the kind of people who will carefully pick numbers based on the birthday of their grandma’s cat and other such superstitious reasons. Though if a player does want to carefully choose their own numbers based on Mr. Whiskers’ birthday, that’s possible too.
It’s feasible to be up and running on PlayHugeLottos.com within five clicks/screen presses:
- Select Keno 9 or Keno 12
- Use the Quick Pick option to automatically select numbers.
- Click “Play Now!”
- Select the number of draws to play.
- Click “Complete Purchase”
Fast, simple, and easily accessible-- it might not be quite the system the ancient Chinese first imagined, but it works for the modern world and offers a great introduction to play Keno for the first time. Given the simplicity of the game, it is an addition to the PlayHugeLottos.com stable that can appeal to everyone.