The History of Keno
Are you one of those addicted to Keno? Have you ever been lured to try out your luck in a Keno game? If you have then I'm sure you'd like to know where the game came from. Let's go back in history and find out.
Keno is said to have originated in China at around 200 BC. It is said to have come from a Chinese poem entitled called "The Thousand Character Classic." If in a classic lottery people bet on numbers, in the original Keno players bet on characters. These characters were inspired from the poem and have fun sounding character names such as 'Dew', 'Cloud,' 'Stupid Loser' and many others.
It is believed that Keno was invented to raise funds for building the Great Wall of China and for the expeditions of the Chinese army. Keno began with as many as 120 characters being used. Before it left its homeland, it was reduced to only about 90 characters.
At around the 19th century Keno arrived at the shores of America through the waves of Chinese immigrants. At that time, the Keno characters were reduced to only 80 characters.
Through the years, Keno remained a popular game especially with Chinese immigrants. Despite the fact that it was illegal, Keno continued to grow especially in cities like San Francisco.
Soon thereafter, the game of Keno became known as the Chinese lottery. At around the 20th century Americans became interested in the game but because the characters were Chinese, many did not understand it. Therefore, the characters were changed to Arabic numbers to lure more players.
The name of Keno or Chinese Lottery was changed to Race Horse Keno to get around the fact that lottery was illegal at that time. Each number is believed to be a horse and the game as a race.
The US government, however, passed a law against track betting so Keno's name had to change again. Keno finally stuck to its original name of Keno.
Keno's maximum legal payout in 1963 was $25,000 in Nevada. This was raised to about $50,000 in 1979. In 1989, the Nevada Gaming Commission finally took out the limit and casinos were tasked with setting their own limits.
So, the next time you bet on Keno, think of all the people that have been enticed to bet as you. The game of Keno has lasted for 3000 years and it will probably stick around for 3000 more.