While the likes of blackjack, roulette, slots, video poker, and live casino games typically dominate the online gambling space, did you know that online Keno is getting more and more popular? The game is highly attractive to those that like to play a lottery-style game at the click of a button, not least because software Keno can be played at any given time.
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This is in stark contrast to the National Lottery, whereby you only get to play twice a week! With that being said, a lot of people are still unaware of what Keno is or how the game works. As such, we've created the ultimate guide to all-things Keno. This includes a full breakdown of how the game works, as well as a discussion on whether or not you need to employ a strategy when playing online.
Before we unravel the fundamentals, let’s start by taking a quick look at the origins of Keno.
History of Keno
There is often a debate about where Keno first grew its roots, not least because the name of the game can be directly translated from both latin and french. Regarding the former, this translates to 'five each'. And the latter - this translates to 'five winning numbers'. However, a number of historians argue that the game originally started in 19th-century China. In fact, the very same historians note that the game assisted Chinese authorities in continuing the construction of the Great Wall of China!
This theory is further supported by architectural findings that show printed scrolls displaying winning numbers - all of which are in Chinese characters. Moving forward in time, Chinese nationals that immigrated to mainland Europe subsequently introduced the game to local populations. In the mid-1800s, the game then made its way to the US market, whereby it first acquired the name 'Keno'.
Since then, the game is now available at a significant number of land-based casinos in machine format. With operators in full knowledge of the game's popularity, they have since incorporated the game into their online casino suites. This is why there are now hundreds of casinos that allow you to play online Keno at the click of a button!
So now that you’ve got a bit of history about where the game originated from - and how it made its way to the Western demographic, we are now going to give you a step-by-step overview of how Keno actually works!
How to Play Keno Games Online
Step 1: Understand the Keno board
In the vast majority of cases, a typical game of Keno will consist of 80 balls - ranging from 1-80. Moreover, a game of Keno will see 20 balls randomly generated - either from a physical machine (if playing in the real-world) or via a random number generator (if playing online).
However, as there are now heaps of variations to the classic game, you might come across a version of Keno that has more/less balls than 80, and more/less drawn numbers. Nevertheless, for the purpose of this guide, we’ll assume that you are playing the traditional variant of the game.
Step 2: Assess the aim of the game
Before getting started, it is important that you understand what it is you are looking to achieve. In its most basic form, you are looking to match as many numbers as possible from the 20 drawn balls. This is no different to a game of bingo.
However, unlike bingo - which will keep drawing new numbers until a player gets either a line or a house win, traditional Keno limits the number of drawn balls to 20.
Moreover - and as we will discuss in step 3, Keno is based on a fixed-odds system, as opposed to the prize pooling system found in bingo.
Step 3: Evaluate the fixed-odds system
It is important to note that Keno operates on a fixed-odds model. In a nutshell, the more numbers that you are able to match, the higher the corresponding win. Before we present you with an example, it is crucial to recognise that the underlying odds will vary depending on the online casino. As such, you’ll want to stick with operators that offer the best fixed-odds on their respective Keno casino games.
Nevertheless, let’s say that you finish a game of Keno with 3 matched numbers. The prize for this is based on a multiple against your stake. As such, if the prize for a 3-ball win was 3x, and you staked £10, then your total prize would be £30. Alternatively, if you stake £50 and matched 3 numbers, then your prize would be £150.
The fixed-odds system is beneficial for a number of reasons. First and foremost, this essentially allows you to set your own stakes. For example, if you’re a casual Keno player and prefer playing for smaller amounts, you’ll likely find a casino that allows you to play at just 50p per game. At the other end of the spectrum, if you're a player that likes to chase that big win, then you might be able to play at well over £1,000 per game.
The second key advantage to playing online Keno is that you can play whenever you see fit. As the underlying ball-generation process is backed by software, you can play around the clock.
Step 4: Pick your ‘spots’
This particular step of the end-to-end Keno process is potentially the most important. Firstly, when you choose your numbers (remember, this usually ranges from 1-80), each pick is known as a ‘spot’.
Now, when it comes to the amount of spots that you need to pick, this will depend on two key variables. Firstly, this is down to the specific online casino that is hosting the game. In other words, while some casinos might allow you to pick between 1-10 spots, some might allow you to pick up to 20.
The second variable that you need to consider is the underlying RTP (return to player) for your chosen number. For those unaware, the RTP relates to the casino’s long-term advantage that it has over the player. For example, if the RTP was 94%, this means that over the course of time, the casino would retain 6% of all player stakes. As such, the higher the RTP, the more chance you have of walking away a winner!
Nevertheless, the specific number of spots that you pick will have an impact on the RTP that you get for that respective Keno game. Once again, this will vary depending on which online casino you are using. Typically, as more and more spots are selected, the underlying RTP will go against you.
Step 5: Choose your stakes
As we at BingoSites.co.uk noted earlier, one of the best things about playing online Keno is that you get to choose your own betting parameters. By this, we mean that the game is suited to both low stakes and high stakes players, not least because you can choose how much you want to bet on each game.
As such, before the game starts, you will need to select your stake. In most cases, the casino will list a number of ‘chip denominations’, such as 50p, £1, £2, £5, and so on. If you wanted to bet £3.50 per game, you could do so by click selecting the £1 chip three times, and the 50p chip once. As you click on each chip, the stake box will update accordingly. If you press the wrong chip and you want to reduce the current stake, you can simply click on the 'Clear Bets' button.
Step 6: Get those Keno balls rolling!
So now that you have set your pre-game betting parametres, you are now ready to enjoy your very first game of Keno. As soon as you click on the 'START GAME' button, the underlying software algorithm will begin drawing numbers.
As noted earlier, this is typically 20 individual balls. As you go through the game and match a number, your Keno card will automatically update. As such, there is no requirement to do anything other than enjoy the game!
Once the 20 balls have been drawn, hopefully, you have matched enough of your chosen spots to win a prize. The minimum amount of spots that you need to match will once again depend on the casino you are playing at.
In most cases, casinos will pay a prize for matching just 1 number. Ultimately, the more spots that you do end up matching, the higher your prize will be.
Play Keno for Free
If you have never played Keno before, or you’re simply new to online gambling - then it might be worth initially playing a demo game. A lot of software developers now release demo versions that essentially allows you to play for free.
While you won’t stand the chance of winning real money, it will at the very least allow you to figure out how the game works from top-to-bottom. Once you do, you can then begin playing for real cash!
The second option that you have in your quest to play Keno for free is to utilise the free bonuses that casinos offer to new players. If you find a casino that offers a matched deposit bonus - and they allow you to use the bonus funds on Keno, then you’ll get to play the game with more money than you initially deposited.
Online Keno Betting Strategy
Ultimately, Keno is a random game of chance that requires no skill. In fact, no matter how many times you've played the game, being an experienced Keno player essentially counts for nothing.
Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the RTP will be directly impacted by the number of spots that you pick. In most cases, you will achieve the maximum RTP by picking just three spots, so do bear this in mind. We would suggest that you read the paytable for your chosen Keno game before starting, and evaluating the RTP for each number of selected spots.
Finally, you should also make some considerations regarding the speed at which you play. A game of keno can be completed in around 30 seconds, meaning that as soon as it has concluded, you have the option of playing again. This means that you can get through a significant number of games in a short period of time, so you need to be very watchful as to how much you are staking.
Play Keno Online Today
There are a series of ways in which you can claim your new casino bonus. The most common way is by registering an account and depositing the stipulated amount (if required) and then it is credited to you automatically.
Another method that some online casinos (and even betting sites) occasionally use is where they ask you to insert a special code to unlock your bonus. This is either a new customer offer, or sometimes if you are an existing customer or VIP casinos will send you a code as a reward so that you can unlock this kind of bonus.
Sometimes, if you are having difficulty you may need to contact the support team via the live chat function, though this is usually dealt with in a timely manner.