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What is online keno?

Play online Bingo and you can't help but notice that there's often a game called Keno offered in the suite of alternative games. But what is it, and is it a worthy distraction from the main business of the Bingo hall proper?

Keno, like Bingo is a lottery-style gambling game and it can often be found in modern land-based and online casinos. The origins of the game are thought to be in ancient China, and it is believed that it was the movement of Chinese immigrants in the 19th Century that brought it to the West.

Keno is a more 'casino–style' game than Bingo in that the player is playing against the house and not to beat fellow players to a jackpot. A bet is made that is paid off with odds set according to the outcome. Like a lottery game, a Keno player selects a sequence of numbers they want to play between '1' and '80' inclusive, and marks them on a ticket. There is some flexibility in how many numbers a player can choose, and traditionally it is up to twenty however the casino / online Bingo hall offering the game may limit this to ten or fifteen as the maximum. The random draw of the twenty winning numbers then takes place and the player is paid a return on their original bet based on the number of matching numbers on their Keno ticket.

So should you have a go with Keno? Well, we'd be a little circumspect to be honest. As you're not competing against fellow players the art of Bingo-card daubing is absent in Keno, so there's less interaction to enjoy. (Admittedly the skill of daubing in online Bingo is rather diluted by the fact that a winning card will automatically be recognized whether its owner has been daubing like a demon or not, but at the very least, it's good training for real-world play!) We'd also caution against Keno in preference to other casino games as it has an exceptionally high house edge. If you are not familiar with this concept, the house edge at a casino is the advantage the casino has in winning over the player, normally expressed as a percentage. Low is good for a player. The classic casino games like Roulette, Baccarat and Blackjack have a house edge of between 1% to 5%, so when you learn that bets on Keno can attract a house edge of 66% it makes you think twice about having a punt on it!

Whilst we're playing the 'numbers game' with this numbers game it's also sobering to consider the odds of getting all twenty numbers right to hit the jackpot payouts offered on traditional Keno. Do the maths and it turns out that you'd have odds of 3.5 trillion to 1, which to put it in context is 250 billion times less likely than picking the winning six numbers for the UK's National Lottery!

To be fair Video Keno machines and online Keno games typically offer far greater payout odds and wins than a traditional Keno game - so if you like instant win games these might be worth the odd flutter - but if you'll take our advice, Keno can't beat a good bit of Bingo, and Bingo is far and away the better bet!