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Origin of Keno

by Mary Sewell

Today there are many casinos for mobile gambling online. You can play your favorite casino games wherever and whenever you want. You only need a mobile phone or tablet and a good Internet connection. There are many games you can find at online casinos. One of the ancient ones is Keno. The origin of Keno is not exactly known, but the game has roots in China. Originally, it was used to raise money for building the Great Wall of China. After Chinese people immigrated to the United States, they introduced the game to the West, where it spread throughout the country. Initially, the game was played with ninety Chinese characters, but as time passed, the 90 Chinese characters were replaced by Arabic numbers from 1 to 80.

Chinese Lottery

In the Chinese Lottery, a game called Keno was first played more than three thousand years ago. The Han Dynasty official Cheung Leung devised Keno to collect money from the public. People liked gambling because it was an entertaining alternative to taxation. The game had 120 characters, chosen from among a thousand Chinese characters, and was played by placing bets on different spots. Players used pens to mark the character spots. It led to the term “keno spot,” which today is used to distinguish between a keno number and a letter. In ancient times, the Chinese Emperor introduced Keno to raise funds. The game requires players to match at least 120 Chinese characters. This simple game quickly became popular. The profits from the ancient Keno helped Cheung Leung’s government fund the construction of the Great Wall of China. Keno was later popular in the US.


millions of Chinese people were involved in building the Great Wall. Some scholars believe as many as one million people died during the construction of the Great Wall. This massive organization project required financial support at many levels. Many citizens were forced into slavery, and it took a lot of money to build it. Keno is now viewed as a form of voluntary financial support.

cities and was known as the “Great White Pigeon Game.”

The game was initially illegal in America but soon became popular in major cities such as San Francisco and Omaha. As it became more popular in the United States, Chinese immigrants exported it from China in the 19th century. However, Chinese characters proved difficult to read in English, so keno operators changed the 90-character Keno grid to an Arabic-number system and decreased the draw to eighty squares. Omaha, Nebraska, was the keno capital of the United States for many years until gambling was banned in the state of Nevada.

law passed by the state in 1931. The law made off-track betting illegal, but the state’s casinos argued that Keno was not a lottery. Keno had a nickname for “the goose” because of the long goose-like opening on the side of the ticket.

Nebraska’s largest keno operator, Big Red Keno, has filed a lawsuit to protect its gaming rights at the Lincoln Race Course. The lawsuit claims that the racecourse was unfairly denied its first chance to operate casino gaming operations at the facility. The legal battle over keno games did not prevent a casino from opening at the race track in Omaha. Last November, Nebraska voters passed a constitutional amendment allowing casinos at licensed horse races.

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