The History Of Keno: From Ancient China To Modern Casinos

Imagine traveling back in time, to a land far away, where a beloved game of chance had its origins. Welcome to the fascinating world of Keno, a game that traces its roots all the way back to ancient China. Delve with me into the captivating history of Keno, as we explore its journey from the banks of the Yellow River to the glitzy casinos of the modern world.

Once upon a time, in the mystical realm of ancient China, there lived a ruler who sought to fund his wars. Legend has it that this wise emperor devised a game of chance called “baige piao,” which means “white pigeon ticket.” Little did he know that this humble pastime would go on to captivate hearts and minds for centuries.

Fast forward to the present day, and Keno has evolved into a beloved casino game enjoyed by people from all walks of life. Combining elements of bingo, lottery, and chance, Keno offers the thrill of anticipation and the hope of big wins. Its popularity has spread far and wide, with players gathering around Keno machines in casinos around the globe.

Join me on this illuminating journey through time as we unveil the secrets of Keno’s rich history. From its humble beginnings in ancient China to the buzzing excitement of modern-day casinos, let’s explore how this captivating game has stood the test of time. Get ready to uncover the captivating tale of Keno and its transformation from ancient roots to modern entertainment.

Are you ready to step into the world of Keno and discover its intriguing history? Let’s embark on this adventure together and unravel the fascinating story of this ancient game.

The History of Keno: From Ancient China to Modern Casinos

The History of Keno: From Ancient China to Modern Casinos

Keno is a popular casino game that has a long and rich history. From its origins in ancient China to its modern incarnation in casinos around the world, the game has evolved and captivated players for centuries. In this article, we will explore the fascinating history of keno, from its humble beginnings to its place in modern gambling culture.

1. The Origins of Keno

Keno has its roots in ancient China, dating back over 2,000 years. The game was originally called “baige piao,” which means “white pigeon ticket.” It was played as a form of an early lottery to fund key projects, such as the construction of the Great Wall of China. The game was immensely popular and provided a source of revenue for the Chinese government.

The original version of keno consisted of a grid with 120 Chinese characters. Players would select a combination of characters and hope they matched the ones drawn by the game’s operator. The numbers drawn were determined by the flight patterns of white pigeons, hence the name “white pigeon ticket.” Eventually, the game spread beyond China’s borders, finding popularity in other Asian countries.

2. Keno’s Journey to the West

Keno made its way to the western world during the 19th century when Chinese immigrants started arriving in the United States to work on the construction of the transcontinental railroad. As they settled in their new homes, the Chinese immigrants brought their beloved game with them, introducing it to Americans for the first time.

However, in order to better appeal to the western audience, the Chinese characters on the game grid were replaced with numbers from 1 to 80. The game also became known as “horse racing keno” to circumvent laws prohibiting lotteries at the time. This new version of keno quickly gained popularity, spreading throughout the United States and becoming a staple in saloons and gambling halls.

3. The Rise of Modern Keno

With the advent of the internet and online gambling, keno has experienced a resurgence in popularity. Players now have the convenience of playing keno from the comfort of their own homes, with digital versions of the game available on various online casino platforms. Modern keno also incorporates technological advancements, such as random number generators (RNGs), which ensure fairness and eliminate the need for physical ball draws.

In addition to online casinos, keno can also be found in many land-based casinos worldwide. The game remains a favorite for players who enjoy the thrill of the lottery-like gameplay and the opportunity to win big with relatively small bets. Keno tournaments are also held in some casinos, offering players a chance to compete against each other for prizes and prestige.

4. Strategy and Tips for Playing Keno

While keno is primarily a game of chance, there are a few tips and strategies that players can employ to maximize their chances of winning. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

1. Choose a casino with good payouts: Different casinos offer different payout rates for keno. Look for a casino that offers higher payouts to increase your potential winnings.

2. Play progressive keno: Progressive keno games offer a jackpot that increases with each round if no one hits it. These games can offer substantial payouts and provide an additional level of excitement.

3. Play with a budget: Set a budget for yourself before playing keno and stick to it. It’s easy to get caught up in the game and overspend, so make sure to play responsibly.

4. Experiment with different number combinations: While there is no foolproof winning strategy, some players find success by experimenting with different number combinations. Play around with different patterns to see what works best for you.

In conclusion, the history of keno is a testament to its enduring appeal. From its ancient origins in China to its modern-day presence in casinos, keno has captured the hearts of players around the world. Whether you’re playing online or in a land-based casino, the excitement and thrill of keno continue to attract players seeking both entertainment and the chance to win big.

The History of Keno: From Ancient China to Modern Casinos

  • Keno is a lottery-style game that originated in Ancient China.
  • It was introduced to the United States by Chinese immigrants during the 19th century.
  • Keno gained popularity in the gambling scene and started being offered in casinos.
  • In modern casinos, players can choose numbers on a ticket and wait for a random drawing to see if their numbers are selected.
  • Keno offers a chance for players to win big prizes with relatively small bets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are common questions about the history of Keno, from its origins in Ancient China to its popularity in modern casinos!

1. How did Keno originate in Ancient China?

Keno has a fascinating history that traces back to Ancient China, around 200 BCE. It was said to have been created during a time of war, when resources were scarce. To fund their battles, the Chinese would play a lottery-like game called “baige piao” or “white pigeon ticket.” This game involved selecting characters from a set of 120, which closely resembles Keno’s numbered balls.

Over time, the game spread beyond its war financing purposes and became a form of entertainment for the Chinese. It later made its way to the United States when Chinese immigrants brought it during the 19th century Gold Rush.

2. How did Keno become popular in modern casinos?

Keno gained popularity in modern casinos primarily due to its simplicity and potential for big wins. The game is easy to understand and play, making it accessible to a wide range of casino-goers. Additionally, the chance to win significant jackpots attracts players who seek excitement and the possibility of life-changing prizes.

In most casinos, Keno is played using a ticket with numbers ranging from 1 to 80. Players select their chosen numbers and place their bets. Then, 20 numbers are randomly drawn, and if a player’s chosen numbers match, they win! The allure of the game’s simplicity and the potential for substantial rewards has made Keno a popular choice in casinos worldwide.

3. When did Keno first appear in the United States?

Keno’s arrival in the United States is attributed to the Chinese immigrants who came during the 19th century Gold Rush. They brought the game with them and it quickly gained popularity among the locals. This marked the official introduction of Keno to the American gambling scene. Initially, the game was played using Chinese characters, but it eventually evolved to use numbers for widespread understanding.

Today, you can find Keno in nearly every state where gambling is legal. From small local casinos to massive resort destinations, Keno has become a staple in the American gambling landscape.

4. How has Keno evolved throughout history?

Keno has undergone several transformations throughout its history. In ancient times, the game relied on characters, but as it spread to different regions, numbers were adopted for easier understanding. Today, Keno is commonly played using numbered balls or electronic machines that randomly select the winning numbers.

The introduction of technology has also had a significant impact on Keno. In modern casinos, players can enjoy electronic versions of the game or participate in online Keno, enabling them to play from the comfort of their homes. These advancements have made Keno even more accessible and convenient for players worldwide.

5. Is Keno purely a game of chance?

Yes, Keno is primarily a game of chance. The numbers drawn during each game are entirely random, and players have no control over the outcome. However, players can choose their numbers and decide how many to play, which can add an element of personal preference or superstition to the experience.

While luck plays a significant role in Keno, some players may utilize strategies or betting systems to enhance their chances of winning. However, it’s important to note that no strategy can guarantee consistent wins because the random nature of the game remains unchanged.



Keno is an ancient lottery game that originated in China over 2,000 years ago. It was brought to the United States by Chinese immigrants in the 19th century and became popular in casinos. The game is based on luck, and players choose numbers from a set and hope they match the numbers drawn. Keno has evolved over time, thanks to technology, and is enjoyed by people all over the world today.

Despite its long history, Keno remains a simple and straightforward game to play. It offers excitement and the chance to win big, making it a popular choice in modern casinos. So next time you visit a casino, give Keno a try and see if luck is on your side!

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