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Keno is a casino staple that initially peaked in popularity during the early days of legal gambling in Nevada. In a curious twist, a game that had its first heyday during the 1930s and 1940s has found new life in the digital era.
As is the case with other casino games such as roulette technology has allowed the formerly labor and equipment intensive game of keno to be played at machines all over the property or online. Some Nevada casinos still have a traditional keno lounge but they’re no longer commonplace. Likewise, the once ubiquitous ‘keno runner’ has all but disappeared.
Out of context, the continued popularity of keno doesn’t make a lot of sense. When you consider the bigger picture, however, the reasons are obvious.
State lotteries are hugely popular in the United States and keno is one of the best ways to replicate that experience in a casino setting. In fact, many state lotteries offer their own versions of keno with multiple drawings throughout the day. For example, the Oregon Lottery runs a new keno game every four minutes 24 hours a day. The ‘lottery factor’ means that keno is one of the casino games that everyone already knows how to play.
Casinos love keno due to the sizable house advantage it provides. In Nevada, live keno provides a house edge of anywhere from 20% to 50% making it one of the least advantageous bets possible.
Video keno, however, offers a much more realistic house advantage with a payout structure similar to slot machines.
The rules and play of keno are extremely simple and even more so for online play.
Despite the digital revolution, the venerable ‘keno ticket’ lives on—they can still be found in Nevada casinos and are in use by many state lotteries. In every keno game, 20 numbers are chosen at random with the most common range being 1 through 80. Originally, the ‘randomization’ was done by a hopper full of numbered balls very similar to the ones you see on televised lottery drawings. Today, they’re usually selected with a random number generator. Once the numbers are drawn, they’re displayed on a board or monitor.
Before each drawing, the player chooses how many spots to play and the amount of their wager. Depending on the casino and/or lottery jurisdiction there may be other options such as the ‘bulls-eye option’ and ‘multiplier option’ offered in Oregon to qualify for a larger payout. The payouts in keno are based on how many numbers the player selects and how many of those numbers are ‘hit’ by matching one that has been randomly selected. As you’d imagine, the probability of hitting 20 out of 20 are astronomical: 1 in 3,535,316,142,212,174,320. Hitting fewer numbers is much more realistic with the probability of matching 5 out of 20 a very reasonable 1 in 4.287.
Online keno offers other gameplay and jackpot options. If you’re interested in the newer variations it’s worth taking the time to check out the rules and jackpot potential.
There really isn’t a viable ‘strategy’ for keno online. The numbers selected are randomized by either a physical hopper or a computer based random number generator. Likewise, it doesn’t really matter which numbers you select. It also doesn’t matter which numbers have hit most frequently on a given machine or which numbers haven’t hit in a while and presumably ‘due’. Every 20 number selection set is an independent event. The results of previous draws have no influence whatsoever on future draws.
This also means that you’ll never be ‘due’ for a jackpot nor will a machine ‘stop paying’ if you cash out for a decent amount. The only decisions by the player that have any significance is selecting where to play based on their pay table and how many numbers to select. Obviously, the more numbers you select correctly the higher the payout.
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