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History of Keno

history of Keno

Keno is an ancient game that looks very similar to bingo when it is played. However, these two games were invented entirely independently of one another. Bingo came into being in Europe in the sixteenth century, specifically Italy and France. On the other hand,the history of keno can be traced back to the ancient Han Dynasty of China. Cheung Leung was the ruler of China at that time. They were in a war, and the citizens of the country did not approve of continuing to finance the military. The government made keno popular in an interesting strategy to fund the war. Some say that it that keno took off so well that it also financed the building of the Great Wall of China.

In the beginning, keno tickets used a total of 120 Chinese characters. Players of the game used and ink brush to mark ten choices. This is where “keno spots” came from, a phrase which is still used in the game today.

In the 1800’s Chinese immigrants brought the game to North America when they immigrated here to work on the building of the trans-continental railroad in the United States. Americans originally called the game “Chinese lottery”. It quickly became popular, just as it had in ancient China. While strict gambling laws were in place at that point in United States history, players avoided them by referring to the game as “horse race keno”. This made it sound as if the numbers in the game were referring to race horses.

In order to Americanize and simplify the game, a couple of changes were made. The amount of characters lowered from 120 to 80, making online keno easier to play. They also began to use numbers instead of Chinese characters.

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