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When the online casino industry came into being, developers were very curious to see how popular land-based genres would adapt to a new environment.As a type of game that provides studios the highest level of freedom to experiment, slots had the smoothest transitions, but table games and other categories acclimatized pretty well, to say so.

Originally from China, Keno is often classified as one of the simplest games to play. Present in both brick-and-mortar and online casinos, this lottery-style game doesn’t require a big bankroll to be played, which explains its huge popularity among newbies and low-rollers.

Being a game of chance, it comes with no guaranteed strategies which can bring piles of cash. On the other hand, a bit of knowledge of rules, odds, and payouts can increase one’s winning chances. If you are interested in learning them, this is just the place to be, so keep reading to get a complete insight into keno!

What is Keno and How to Play It?

Keno is a lottery-like gambling game played in which players pick numbers hoping to match the ones that are drawn afterward. It’s a game of chance, and it resembles Bingo a lot.


The game of Keno is played like this:

  • A player gets to select a set of numbers they hope will be picked
  • The game randomly selects 20 out of 80 balls
  • Each guessed number is referred to as the “catch”, so a player is paid according to the number of balls they’ve guessed

Just like slot games, video poker, and other casino games, Keno has its own paytables which are used to determine the size of the payout. One is paid based on how many numbers were selected, the number of matches out of those picked, and the wager.

Worth noting is that in online casinos, those numbers are chosen by touching the screen/ clicking, while in land-based casinos a player gets a slip of paper or so-called tickets, where he circles the numbers. Also, the number of games one can pick depends on the keno variant, but most commonly they range from 2-10 or 1-15.

In traditional casinos, numbers are drawn with a ball machine, quite similar to the one used for bingo and lottery games. For the online variant, it relies on a random number generator, which ensures that each round is completely random and fair.

Talking about house edge, the percentage spans from 4% to even over 35%, and they vary from one keno variant to another. Just to clarify, non-slot games usually have an extremely low house edge, usually under 5%, making Keno an exception.

Keno exists in multiple variants. Sometimes it’s just the theme that differs, but sometimes providers like to incorporate certain features and bet types, to spice up the game a bit.

Brief History of Keno

Although the word “keno” originates from either French or Latin languages, the game itself was born in China. According to an interesting legend, the invention of this game not only saved an ancient city in time of far, but also helped raise funds to build one of the world’s most popular fortifications- the Great Wall of China.

Instead of ciphers used today, people in Ancient China used a paper filled with Chinese characters, most commonly the first 80 characters of the Thousand Character Classic. When Chinese immigrants sailed across the Pacific Ocean to work on the construction of the First transcontinental railroad in the 19th century, they introduced the game of keno to people in the West.

In Mandarin Chinese, this game was called the báigē piào (white dove tickets), but the Cantonese pronunciation was slightly different baak-gaap-piu (pigeon tickets). In the West, the name of the game was pronounced like “boc hop bu” and “puck-apu”, the latter of which also served for the Westernized spelling “pakapoo”.

Are Keno and Bingo the Same?

Novice players often wonder how to make a difference between Keno and Bingo, as both involve randomly drawn balls.


Also, none of them has complex rules, and both belong to games of chance. What’s even more, both can be played in land-based and online casinos.

First of all, Keno traces its roots all the way to Ancient China, while a game that led to the birth of Bingo appeared in Italy around 1530. The name “Bingo” came into being in the late 1920s. Four decades later, in the 1960s, the game itself migrated to the United Kingdom.

During Keno, a set of numbers is drawn randomly, after which all participants compare their selected numbers with the drawn ones to see if they match. It is possible to have several winners. As for Bingo, the numbers are drawn until someone wins a game, and only one person can be a winner.

In Keno, numbers are selected before a playing session begins, while in Bingo a player gets tickets with already printed numbers. That’s what makes the former a fast-paced game, contrary to Bingo, which can take a while, especially if played offline, meaning in a bingo room.

Getting to Know Keno Glossary

Each game has its own specific expressions which refer to types of bets, participants, the amount of money placed, and other aspects of the game. If interested in deepening your knowledge of this old game, take a look at our keno lingo compilation, listed alphabetically:

Aggregate Limit- the maximum payout in a game as determined by the operator; in case there are multiple winners, the sum will be divided among them

All or Nothing – this type of ticket delivers pays if all selected numbers are drawn, or no selected numbers are drawn

Bank- the sum of money the casino has available to pay winning players

Bankroll- the amount of cash determined by a player for gambling purposes; it can refer to any type of game, including slots, table games, and live dealer games

Blank- a keno ticket that has not been filled out

Catch- when a player hits a number they’ve previously picked, it’s called a catch 

Catch All- in this type of bet, a consumer must hit every number they’ve marked on their ticket to win

Catch Zero- opposite from “Catch All”, in this type of bet a player must avoid hitting any number they’ve marked on their ticket to win

Combination Way Ticket- A single keno ticket which allows a consumer to place multiple keno wagers

Draw- a round of keno during which 20 numbers are drawn randomly, either via a random number generator or by a live caller over video

Edge Ticket- a consumer selects all 32 numbers around the edge of the ticket; a winner is the one who catches between 1-6 or 10-20 numbers; payouts for this game vary from one casino to another

House Edge- the percent advantage that the casino has over the player during a gambling game; most commonly, the house edge is used when talking about table games, card games, dice games, and other typical casino games, whereas, in case of slots, players often look for RTP to determine whether a game is worth playing or not

Left/Right Ticket- a ticket where the participant has selected the numbers vertically down the center; a payout can be given in two scenarios- if the player catches numbers on one-half of the ticket or if they don’t catch any of the numbers on one-half of the ticket

Multi-game keno ticket- this type of ticket allows consumers to play several keno wagers on a single keno ticket

Replayed Ticket- when a player re-uses the same numbers in consecutive keno games, that’s called a replayed ticket; interestingly, people like doing the same when playing the lottery

Way Ticket - a ticket with two or more bets

Of course, this is just a basic selection of expressions, something to get you started. As time goes by, you will also learn what’s “Exacta”, who’s a “Sleeper” and who’s a “King” in the game, and so on.

Tips & Tricks on Online Keno

As we already mentioned, with games of chance, there are no strategies that work, as everything is random and based on pure luck. However, knowledge of odds and the game’s rules in general can put one player in an advantageous position, compared to those who possess no knowledge at all.

Here’s what players interested in improving their winning chances in Keno should do:

  • Learn the basic rules of the game
  • Analyze the paytable and pick the game with good payouts
  • Check the odds
  • Bet wisely and determine your bankroll on time
  • Set a loss limit

Of course, it’s of vital importance to play the game in licensed casinos only. Don’t let any shiny bonuses or seemingly better odds fool you, such scam casinos often refuse to pay players. So, stick to the reputable brands.

Find the casino that offers keno in demo mode, and use the opportunity to see how the game actually works. It’s a great exercise, plus it’s free. Also, browse the forums for first-hand experiences from other players, it can be of help when determining which Keno variant to play.

Have fun & gamble responsibly!

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What is the best strategy for keno?

As keno is a game of luck, there’s no strategy for guaranteed winnings. Players should focus on learning the rules, paytables, and odds in order to improve their winning chances.

What are the most popular variations of Keno?

Exploring the casinos players shall encounter Power Keno, Mini Keno, Way Ticket Keno, Straight Ticket Keno, Progressive Jackpot Keno, as well as Keno King, Cleopatra Keno, Book of Keno, and so on.

Can I play Keno for free?

Yes, a solid number of casinos offer free-to-play Keno, giving players the opportunity to learn more about this fast-paced and rewarding game.

Who are the most popular providers of Keno games?

Playtech and NetEnt are probably the two biggest names in this field, but other studios such as Kiron Interactive, Realtime Gamin, 1x2gaming, BetSoft, and Rival have them in their portfolios as well.

Does Keno have good odds?

Odds in Keno can be as low as 4%, but can also go over 35%, so the answer is both yes and no. The odds vary from one casino to another so take time to analyze different casinos and see which ones offer the best odds.

Is Keno difficult to play?

No, Keno is one of the simplest casino games to play. All it takes is to select numbers and wait for the draw to take place.

Do Keno games contribute to the completion of wagering requirements?

In a solid number of casinos, Keno contributes to the completion of wagering requirements. The contribution percentage may not be as large as those from slot games, but still, what matters the most is that they are not fully excluded.
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