The roots of poker go back hundreds of years, but would you like to know which game is older?
Believe it or not, the game of keno has its roots in one of the most notable and ancient lotteries in the world.
You might not usually think about these origins when you sit down to play, but it's worth learning about one of the most popular casino games on earth. Read on for a quick (and fascinating) history of keno games.
What Is Keno?
In case you're not familiar with keno, here's a quick rundown.
Keno is played with cards or tickets that have numbers in squares, generally between 1-80. Players mark as many numbers as they wish, up to the maximum allowed, and registers his selection before a drawing.
Twenty numbered balls are selected at a time, usually once daily. Prizes are given based on how many of each player's chosen numbers are drawn.
Where Did Keno Start?
That's how we play keno today, but where did this popular casino game begin? For the answer, we have to travel back over 2,000 years to the Han Dynasty in China.
Its ruler, Cheung Leung, needed more money to fund an ongoing war. To get his subjects to willingly provide the money, he devised what many consider the first government-run "lottery" in history.
The name of the game was baige piao or "white pigeon ticket," named for the bird that appeared on the card. It also featured the first 80 characters from Qianziwen, the Book of a Thousand Characters.
Cheung Ling promised the chance of a huge return on a small investment, so the game was an instant success. It provided enough income not only to finance the war but also the rebuilding of the Great Wall.
How Did Keno Spread?
When the first Chinese immigrants arrived in the US in the 1800s, they brought their favorite game with them. Despite the fact that gambling was illegal, it thrived during the era of westward expansion.
The US government legalized gambling in 1931, and the first keno-based games arrived in Reno, Nevada, in 1933. It was first called Race Horse Keno, showing names of horses instead of numbers so it didn't conflict with existing lottery laws.
When the laws changed again in 1951, the number-based keno games we know today were reintroduced.
Today you'll find keno games in every casino in America, as well as gambling facilities in Australia, South Africa, and eastern Asia. Many online casinos also offer versions of keno so players can enjoy the game from anywhere.
Keno Casino Games: Here to Stay
Online casino games may be a modern invention, but the game of keno is just the opposite.
With roots stretching back thousands of years to ancient China, it's one of the oldest numbers games on earth. As it spread across the world, it gradually evolved into the game we know and love today.
So the next time you're hanging out at the casino with your friends, mention a few of these fun facts about keno. Everyone is sure to be impressed with your knowledge of the game!
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