Close this search box.
Close this search box.
Close this search box.

History of Keno


Follow Us:

Keno is a gambling game familiar to many Canadians, which is enthusiastically played both online and at kiosks. This simple game of chance, where the player’s task is to guess the numbers drawn by the machine, has long been popular both in the world and in Canada thanks to its easy game rules. Today, there are many different variations of keno available, but its simple basic idea has remained the same.

By the way, did you know that Keno is one of the oldest gambling games in the world? Keno’s history stretches back thousands of years to ancient China. In this article, we will tell you about the history of Keno in different countries, its popularity in Canada, and the different types of keno in casinos. If you are also interested in Keno and other gambling games, keep reading!

Keno’s Chinese, European and Latin roots

Keno’s current name most likely has French or Latin roots. The name is believed to have been formed either from the French word Quine, meaning five winning numbers, or from the Latin word quini, meaning five each.

However, the roots of the game itself go back to ancient China, where the precursor to the game was already played about 3,000 years ago. Keno’s original Chinese name was báigē piào, which literally means white dove flag. The name is believed to come from the fact that the results of the lottery in the cities were sent to villages located outside the population centers using carrier pigeons. Báigē piào is probably a precursor not only to keno, but also to bingo and lotto.

In the original báigē piào game, instead of numbers, there were 80 different Chinese characters from which players had to choose the characters they wanted. These characters usually came from a classical Chinese book called Qianziwen, which has exactly one thousand different Chinese characters. The writing characters presented in the book are so well known among educated Chinese that they are sometimes used instead of numbers to indicate numbers from one to one thousand.

According to legend, the development of the game helped raise funds for the construction of the Great Wall of China, but there are no reliable historical sources for this. According to some sources, the Chinese authorities at the time used gambling to raise funds for the kingdom’s construction projects and to support the needy. In a certain way, the background was therefore very similar to the way in which Canada collects funds for various public benefit purposes.

Keno’s arrival in the West

Although Keno’s ancestors had been played in China for thousands of years, it was not known outside the country until Chinese immigrants brought their popular game to the western United States in the 1840s. The game was initially known as the “Chinese lottery”, and it began to spread outside the Chinese communities in the middle of the 20th century. For this, the Chinese characters were changed to Latin numbers to make the game more suitable even for those players who did not know Chinese characters. Around this time, the name keno also began to be used for the game, which was much easier for immigrants from different countries than the original Chinese name.

In 1933, keno began to be played in gambling houses in Reno, Nevada, which were in a way the ancestors of modern casinos. At this point, however, state lottery law prevented the use of numbers on keno tickets, so they used horse names and the game was renamed Racehorse Keno. Later in the 1950s, the gambling laws were changed, and Keno returned to its numbers format, where it is still played today.

With immigration, Keno continued to spread to other Western countries, and it became a very popular game in Europe as well. Keno has been played in Canada since 1988. Ten years later, the Keno 40 game also entered the market, the name of which was later changed to Numerokeno. Today, there are many different keno games available online, and Keno organized by Veikkaus is the second most popular money game in Canada, right after the good old lottery.

Keno games in casinos

Today, keno is played in casinos all over the world in the Americas, Asia, Europe and Australia. In addition, in many countries, such as Canada, keno raffles are organized like a lottery. Veikkaus draws keno numbers three times a day, so unlike the lottery, for example, you can participate in the keno draw several times a day if you wish.

However, the simple lottery-like nature of the game makes it also very suitable for playing online, and the majority of players nowadays play keno in an online casino. When playing at an online casino, you don’t have to wait for draws, but you can play at any time and as many rounds at once as you want.

In most online keno games, it is possible to choose the numbers yourself or use the automatic function, which chooses random numbers for each round. By using automatic play, each game round goes much faster than manual play. Online casinos also offer numerous different versions of keno games, such as

  • 80 number Keno
  • FireFly Keno
  • 90-number bingo keno
  • Squares
  • 70 number Keno
  • Keno Pop.

In some keno games, the rules and basic ideas are the same as in traditional 80-number keno, and the only difference from regular keno is in the game’s graphics and themes. In other versions, however, the game mechanics and rules may vary to some extent, so it is always important to familiarize yourself with the game version and, for example, try a few rounds with play money before making a monetary investment. At most online casinos, it is possible to play keno for free in a demo game. It’s always a good idea before betting real money.

Keno rules

As said, there are many different variations of keno, but its simple basic idea has generally been kept the same. Usually, the player has to select the desired number of numbers (maximum 15–20) from the game screen, which shows the numbers 1–80. After the player has made his choice, the game draws the winning numbers, and the player gets his winnings according to how many of the numbers he chose match the numbers drawn by the game.

The maximum number of dialed numbers and the number of dialable numbers varies from version to version. Otherwise, the game is played in practically the same way, regardless of whether it is played in a brick-and-mortar casino or an online casino.

The keno probabilities depend on how many numbers the player chooses, i.e. the keno level. Each keno level has specific win categories and multipliers. The more numbers the player guesses, the more likely it is that at least one of the choices will be correct. On the other hand, the size of the bet increases at the same time.

ALSO READ: Top 10 Most Popular Football Clubs in the world



The Educational landscape is changing dynamically. The new generation of students thus faces the daunting task to choose an institution that would guide them towards a lucrative career.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

And never miss any updates, because every opportunity matters.

More To Explore

Scroll to Top

Thank You for Choosing this Plan

Fill this form and our team will contact you.