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The Origins of Keno: From Ancient China to Online Sensation

934 views June 19, 2023
by TJ

Keno, a popular lottery-style game, has a rich origins story that traces back to ancient China. Throughout centuries, it has evolved and adapted, ultimately becoming a sensation in the online gambling world.

Let us look at its timeline and how it evolved into one of the most well-loved games in the world.

War Gave Birth to Keno

Keno originated in ancient China during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.  – 220 A.D.), believed to be created by ruler Cheung Leung as a means to fund the city’s defense. Initially called “baige piao” or “white pigeon ticket,” the game gained popularity for its entertainment value and potential prizes.

Players selected characters or numbers, which were drawn using various methods. Also, its enduring appeal and reach were the results of Keno’s origins in ancient China.

OKBet Origins of Keno

Beyond China’s Borders

As Chinese immigrants made their way to the United States during the 19th century, they introduced the game of keno to the Western world. Initially, Keno was played within Chinese communities. Eventually, its allure soon extended beyond cultural boundaries.

To appeal to a broader audience, keno underwent adaptations to suit Western preferences. The use of Chinese characters was gradually replaced with numbers. This, in turn, made it more accessible to non-Chinese players. This transition allowed easier comprehension of the game’s mechanics and facilitated integration into the Western gambling scene.

Conquering Land-Based Casinos

As keno gained popularity, it found its place alongside other traditional casino games in land-based establishments. For example, gambling houses in Reno, Nevada, featured the game in 1933.

Since then, players have been captivated by its simple gameplay. The thrill of anticipating the drawn numbers and potential payouts also brought that same effect. In addition, the development of electronic keno machines further revolutionized the game, making it even more convenient and enticing for players.

Adapting to the New Norm

As the digital age transformed the gambling landscape, with its rich origins and timeless appeal, keno made a seamless transition into the online world. The advent of online casinos opened up new opportunities for keno enthusiasts to enjoy the game from the comfort of their homes whenever desired.

The online platform provided a perfect environment for Keno to thrive. Thanks to advancements in technology, online keno now boasts:

  • Enhanced graphics
  • Stunning animations
  • Immersive sound effects

With these new features, its online version was able to replicate the excitement of playing in a land-based casino. In addition, the game’s visual presentation has been elevated. As a result, it created a more engaging and immersive experience for players.

The transition of keno to the online platform has also brought about the integration of advanced algorithms and random number generators (RNGs) to ensure fair gameplay. These technologies ensure that the outcome of each draw is arbitrary; the results are unbiased, providing players with a fair and transparent gaming environment.


Keno has come a long way, from its origins in ancient China to online popularity. Its simplicity, immense win potential, and convenience have made it a favorite for players worldwide. 

Whether at a land-based casino or online, keno’s fascinating journey and transition into the digital age make it an exciting game of chance. So, next time you play, appreciate its rich history and remarkable evolution.

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