Written by: Sadonna Price , Expert in Online Casinos and Poker

Keno is a popular lottery-style game in land-based casinos and bars across the US. Gameplay is as simple as choosing your lucky numbers, placing a bet, and crossing your fingers during the draw. Match enough of your picks, and you get a prize.

This Keno guide explains the rules, how to play, and some basic strategies to help you win big. We’ll also show you the best online casinos with Keno for USA players and a few of our favorite game variants.

Keno Online

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Gamblers in the US have great options for playing keno online. Unlike land-based games, there’s no need to fill out a paper ticket with a pencil or wait for the next drawing.

You can wager real money, pick your lucky numbers, and enjoy instant video Keno games from your home.

Best Online Casinos with Keno

OUSC’s experts go to great lengths to find excellent online casinos for US players. Below are some of the top options we have reviewed specifically for keno.

1 DuckyLuck Casino Logo DuckyLuck Casino KENO GAMES 3 BONUS 500% up to $7,500 Play Now
2 Bovada Casino Logo Bovada Casino KENO GAMES 1 BONUS 125% up to $3,750 Play Now
3 SlotsandCasino Logo SlotsandCasino KENO GAMES 3 BONUS 500% up to $7,500 Play Now
4 BetUS Logo BetUS KENO GAMES 4 BONUS 150% up to $3,000 Play Now
5 Cafe Casino Logo Cafe Casino KENO GAMES 1 BONUS 350% up to $2,500 Play Now

What is Keno?

Vintage Chinese Keno Baige Piao Ticket
Traditional Chinese Keno Ticket

Keno is a popular game of chance that falls under the banner of a lottery-style game due to how white balls with numbers on them are selected at random. The game is attractive to many players due to the ability to win a massive amount from just a little bet.

Keno started in China more than 2000 years ago. The original name baige piao, meaning “white pigeon ticket,” is also the predecessor to bingo and modern-day lottery drawings.

Before the game made its way to the US around 1840, tickets used the first 80 characters of a Chinese poem instead of numbers.

Today, Keno games are offered by casinos, restaurants, bars, and some state lotteries. You select a handful of numbers from 1-80, turn in the ticket with your wager, and wait for the next drawing to see if you match and win. Payouts depend on how many you select versus how many you hit and the house paytable.

Keno is very attractive to casino operators because it is now mostly completely automatic. You won’t find many casinos with actual ball drawings. It’s generally all done by computer these days. This means very little overhead for the casino operator and the ability for them to run games in a much quicker fashion.

Keno Rules

Keno is simple to play, and there are only a few rules to learn before you start. The game’s objective is to choose numbers, called spots, that you think will get drawn. The more of them you match during the corresponding drawing, the more money you win! Yes, it’s that simple.

Choosing only a few spots means you can hit one or two for a payout, but the max prize you can get is smaller. When you select several numbers, you have to land more of them to win, but you can get a larger sum of money as you match more balls.

When are Keno Drawings?

Keno Autoplay Icon

Land-based casinos and bars schedule Keno drawings in even intervals throughout the day. There are usually 10-15 opportunities to play every hour. Online, you can reuse your numbers quickly and start a new round with the click of a button.

Common Keno Rule Variations

In standard live keno, you pick up to 15 numbers between 1 and 80. However, at real money online casinos and certain establishments, you may see any one of several slight changes to the game. Let’s look at a few of the common rule variations you might see.

Online Keno

Video Keno

Video Keno terminals and online games let you pick your numbers on a screen. Then once you’re ready, the software draws all the balls instantly.

Keno Bonus Ball

Bonus Balls

Some games have a bonus ball or special number. If you hit that, you’ll get an additional payout or multiplier depending on the house rules.

40 Ball Keno

40 Ball Keno

Sometimes called instant keno, 40-ball games are quicker since they use fewer balls. You choose up to 10 numbers from 1-40, and they pull 10 balls.

Keno Tickets and Bets

Online games are usually straight tickets, but there are a few ways to bet when you fill out Keno tickets in brick-and-mortar casinos. Let’s look at how you can select spots to spice up the next drawing.

  • Straight Tickets

    Straight bets are the way most people play. You pick a single set of numbers and enter the next drawing. Wagers usually start at $1 for the base game.
  • Way Tickets

    Way betting utilizes multiple combinations of the selected numbers. You could play two sets of 3 spots separately and together as a set of 6. That would be three bets.
  • King Number Tickets

    When you put a single number in a group, it is a king number. You can add it to ways and combinations or choose to bet on it alone in a single-spot game.
  • Split Tickets

    This bet is like playing two tickets at once. You select your numbers, circle them in groups, or divide them by a line. Each set of spots gets a wager.
  • Combination Tickets

    Spot combinations can overlap to create even more wagers. You could choose 20 spots and divide them up creatively for numerous bets.
  • Progressive Jackpot Games

    Just like progressive jackpot slots, there’s a pot that builds as people play. It may be an additional side bet to buy in for your chance to win a massive prize pool.

Keno Gambling

Online Keno Icon

When betting in keno, you’ll be able to choose how many numbers you’d like to select in a draw and how much you wish to bet. The betting denominations change from game to game and are generally lower in video and online casino keno.

In traditional keno, you’ll have to bet a more significant amount and wait for an allotted amount of time between draws to allow all players to collect winnings from a previous draw.

Generally, players will choose between 4 and 10 numbers and be paid out according to the initial amount they bet and the percentage of the numbers they hit. It does get quite complex when it comes to betting and determining what the actual odds & payouts will be. This information is easily available in the game’s pay table in video and online keno. In traditional keno, you can find an overview of this in the casino keno pay book.

Remember that making different bet options won’t change the house edge in keno and certainly won’t increase your likelihood of winning. The statistics and mathematics of the game stay the same irrespective of what bet options the player makes. It can add an extra level of excitement to your game, though!

How to Play Keno

Online Keno Mobile

If you’re seeking one of the simplest games to play in a casino, you can’t go past keno. It’s very easy to play, and once you’ve received your draw ticket, you can sit back and relax while the action unfolds on a screen in front of you.

Next, we’ll look at how to play keno from start to finish. There’s not much to it, so you’ll know your way around the game in just a few quick steps.

Playing Online Keno

If you’re playing online or on a video keno terminal, the game is much simpler and runs on demand. Here we will show you how to play at an online casino:

  1. Sign Up and Go to the Cashier

    Select your favorite online casino and sign up to create an account. If playing for real money, you’ll, of course, first need to add credits to your casino bankroll by selecting one of the available deposit methods at the gambling site.
  2. Pick Your Keno Game

    Go to the Specialties or Casual Games section. This is where you’ll usually find the available keno games at your favorite online casino.
  3. Review Payouts and Bets

    Keno games will display payout and wager information on the game’s pay table. This will give you details on how much you can win compared to how much you wager and also information on winnings in relation to how many numbers you select for each draw.
  4. Pick Your Numbers and Bets

    To play a draw, you simply pick numbers off a keno board and select a wager amount. You can also get your numbers via a quick pick which will automatically choose a certain group of numbers at random for you to use in the next draw. This can be done both in real live casinos and online. When you use the quick pick feature, you simply click on the number of balls or numbers you want to use and choose a bet amount.
  5. Draw and Wait for the Results

    You then draw immediately, and the machine will select winning numbers randomly and automatically award you a win if you’re successful.

Playing Keno at Live Casinos

Keno ticket icon

When you’re playing in a live casino, you’ll find keno games on video poker multi-game machines or standalone video keno machines, and also, the main keno game that will be running on TV screens around the casino.

In the old days, casinos had employees, called runners, who collected keno cards and returned with your ticket. This is mostly a thing of the past because people do not play with live keno tickets as much as before. And many players who do enjoy the game are playing on video terminals instead of using the live draws.

Here’s how you can play keno using live draws.

  1. Find a Keno Card

    The first thing you need to do is find the tickets. Casinos usually have them in designated Keno lounges. Bars and restaurants keep them in a small caddy on the bar. Online games and video terminals use virtual cards with numbers you click to choose.

  2. Fill Out Your Ticket

    Decide how many spots you want to play and choose your lucky numbers.

  3. Define Your Bets

    If you plan to make way bets or multiple combinations, make sure to group, circle, and notate your tickets correctly. You can always ask for assistance. Each set of numbers you play requires a wager.

  4. Turn in Your Ticket

    Hand your filled-out ticket to an employee. They will give your original slip back with a printed receipt that shows the drawing ID, bet ways, and number combinations. Hold on to the card you filled out if you plan to play the same thing in another draw.
  5. Watch the Draw & Win

    Screens placed throughout the establishment will display the drawn numbers. Sit back and watch as 20 numbers come up one after another. After you match some numbers, take your receipt back to an official and collect your prize. Online games automatically put your winnings into your bankroll.

As you can see, the game is straightforward to play, and it only gets slightly more complex when you play with different bet types and combination tickets.

Keno Strategy

The best Keno strategy is to play the number of spots with the best odds of winning. It’s a game of chance, so there’s no skill you can apply to lower the house edge.

Some people believe they will have better odds of winning if they apply strategies like picking cold numbers, the bottom 40, or spots they think will show up more frequently. The truth is you can’t really follow a pattern in keno. Each draw is unique and resets the probability of any single ball coming up.

How to Win More Keno Games

Your odds of getting a payout change depending on the number of spots you play. To use this Keno strategy, you’ll need to look at the payouts closely.

It’s not always ideal to select the maximum amount of numbers for a draw. When you choose more numbers, you have to hit more for a minimum payout.

This table shows an example of how your odds change depending on how many numbers you pick. The min matches needed for a payout become more and more as you make more selections.

Comparing 8 spots to 9, you can see you need to hit four balls for a payout in both cases. You have a better shot of getting there with 9 options to match.

Based on our example table, the recommended strategy would be to choose four, seven, or nine numbers. This strategy plays the best odds for the minimum matches at each level.

Spots SelectedMin Matches to WinOdds of Hitting
111 in 4
221 in 17
321 in 8
421 in 5
531 in 12
631 in 8
731 in 6
841 in 13
941 in 9
1051 in 20

Min. matches needed for a payout may vary from game to game.

Play Online Keno for Free

Play keno for free before playing for real money. This online Keno game is available at DuckyLuck. Depending on how many spots you select, the paytable and minimum matches you need to win change. 

Apply what you learned above and test different methods here before you wager real money.

Are There Any Reliable Keno Strategies to Win?

Keno Strategy Icon

As mentioned before, you won’t be able to implement any method or strategy in keno to result in a lower house edge or player advantage. It just isn’t possible. Due to the random nature of the game and the set payouts, you simply can’t do anything to make a win more likely.

This randomness, in correlation to the payouts for hitting a certain amount of numbers, is set up in a way so that the casino always holds a large edge over the player. That being said, you can implement some strategies just for fun and to make keno more enjoyable. Most games will have a list of hot and cold numbers. This list shows you which numbers are coming up frequently and numbers that haven’t come up much at all.

You could use this list to determine which numbers to pick in the next draw. Just keep in mind that every draw is independent and random, and the numbers that have or haven’t come up in previous draws have absolutely no statistical impact on what will come up in the next draw. Although, as mentioned, this can make the game more fun and many people implement number selection strategies in line with hot and cold numbers to keep things exciting.

Keno Games

Though the base rules don’t waver much, Keno games come in various formats. There’s the traditional version, power Keno, bonus features, speed options, and more. When you take online gambling into account, you have no shortage of exciting possibilities.

Popular Online Keno Games

Below we listed some of our reader’s favorite real money keno games at online casinos. You can win real money, play multiple tickets simultaneously, and enjoy simple gameplay with excellent animations and sound effects.

American Keno Specialty Game Logo
American Keno
Keno Megapays Specialty Game Logo
Keno Megapays
Online Keno Vegas
Keno Vegas
Keno Fortunes Logo
Keno Fortunes

Keno Variations

You’ll find different Keno game variations depending on the casino. Here are some other keno games that you might encounter online and how they differ from the original Keno version.

Klub Keno Online Casino Game Logo
  • Klub Keno

    Klub Keno is an online keno variation created by Betsoft Gaming. Fans of the traditional game are sure to enjoy Klub Keno. With its simple gameplay, bright graphics, and classic elements found in regular keno. The game’s object is to bet on a set of numbers and wait for the balls to be drawn. If you earn a match, you win.
  • Keno Stud

    In this keno variation, the top prize will continue to increase until it’s awarded to a player. It’s also known as a progressive jackpot prize.
  • Keno Vegas

    Online Vegas Keno is very similar to the version you can play in bars or brick-and-mortar Casinos. One significant difference is that you only select a maximum of 15 numbers. If you don’t want to pick numbers, the “lucky dip” feature online chooses them randomly. You can try this Keno variation at BetOnline casino.

Keno Glossary

To play live keno or even online keno, a player must know all of the keno terms or slang used when gambling.

Below you will find a complete list of keno terms and a description of each. As you learn and apply each of these keno terms, you will understand the game much better.

  • Ball Game

    In keno, small white balls labeled from 1 to 80 are used to determine winning numbers in a draw. A ball game is simply referring to this type of keno, which is by far the most popular form of the game in casinos today.
  • Draw

    A round in keno is referred to as a draw. In this draw, 20 numbers are selected randomly, generally by a computer. A draw can also refer to each individual ball that is selected or drawn from the traditional machine or by the computer.
  • Draw Sheet

    A record of winning numbers from previous draws. They can be presented in paper form or via keno display monitors.
  • Field

    Numbers that players mark and don’t circle on a keno ticket. The field can also refer to all the numbers on a keno board, this being from 1 to 80.
  • Handle

    All the money that is wagered in a particular round of keno is the handle.
  • Net Win

    The amount a player wins less the initial wager they made.
  • Pattern

    When a player marks a ticket, it may form a particular pattern. Some players do this for superstitious purposes.
  • Quick Pick

    A random selection of numbers is made automatically by the computer for the player’s ticket.
  • Race

    A slang term for a single keno draw.
  • Random Number Generator

    RNG (Random Number Generator) or RNGA computer program that’s used to determine which numbers are drawn in a computer-operated keno game and video keno. The RNG program uses a complex mathematical formula to ensure completely random results that are independent of previous draws. Contrary to popular belief, these are not rigged in any way and operate completely independently of what action the player has taken concerning choosing their numbers.
  • Video Keno

    A type of keno game played individually at a computer terminal. Draws take place on demand, and the player selects their numbers and makes their wagers via a touch screen. Video keno will often have much lower bet limits and also offer better value for wins.

You’re Ready to Play Keno Online

This page gave you the basic rules and a little strategy for picking your Keno numbers. Next time you see the screens with the drawings at the bar or casino, go fill out a ticket and give it a shot.

Online casinos will mostly offer video keno and will usually offer better conditions for the player when compared to video keno in a live casino. The payouts may be better, and the house edge is lower as a result. Playing keno at an online casino is probably the best bet statistically for the player.

If you want to play right now, sign in at one of the Keno casinos above and head to the table games or specialty section. Start with low-limit wagers to get the hang of the software and enjoy more rounds!

FAQ About Keno

Here are some of the most popular questions about playing keno online.

What are some popular keno bets?

One of the most popular bets in keno is to play 6. This means you choose 6 numbers to play in a draw. Generally, you’ll win back your initial wager if you hit 3 out of your 6 numbers. If you hit more than 3, then the winnings will go up significantly with the more numbers you hit. When you play 6, you’ll be able to wager $1, $3, or $5, and up from there, depending on the operator’s bet limits.

Apart from these straight bets, you can also make combination bets where you’ll have multiple sets of numbers. These can either can be played concurrently, so you get an enhanced payoff, or separately. You’ll also find sectional bets, color-based bets, king bets, and much more. As you learn keno, you can slowly incorporate different bet types into your game to see what you like.

What is the keno house edge?

If you’re looking for a casino game with an excellent house edge, then perhaps you should avoid keno. Coming in with a house edge of between 25% and 29%, it’s one of the most unfavorable games for the player. This shouldn’t dissuade you from playing, though, as the gameplay itself is very enticing for many, and it’s one of the few games where you can win $10,000 or more for a single $1 wager.

Quite often, video keno and online casino keno will offer far better odds for the player and a much lower house edge. You should be able to find games with a house edge between 5% and 10%, and you should definitely aim to play these games if you’re going to dabble in keno.

What is the difference between live and video keno?

While the basics of a video online keno game are the same as traditional casino keno, there are some minor differences that may make the game more appealing to you.
You’ll often be able to bet in much smaller denominations on video keno, and the game rate is much faster. Once you make your selections and bet size, you can draw right away to see if you’re a winner without having to wait for the main game to draw.

On top of this, the payouts may be slightly different in video keno, which means you can find a game that may be more favorable to the player and have a lower house edge.

What is the red and black or red and green game in keno?

Sometimes online keno games will offer a red and black game on top of the standard keno game. The blackboard is sometimes a green board, depending on where you play. This is just another bet option where players can choose to wager on either of the colors.
It’s essentially just another set of numbers, doubling the draw in a particular round. You’ll find there’s no real benefit to playing both colors other than wagering twice as much to have the same chances of winning.

Should I study the odds in keno?

You won’t find many benefits in studying the odds in keno, and it’ll most likely just turn you off from playing the game. The game is completely based on luck, and there’s no decision-making or strategy involved. Therefore, knowing the odds and probabilities won’t arm you with any information that can be implemented into your game to make a difference.

Should I play keno for real money?

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you play keno for real money or not. If you’re seeking a casino game that’s purely based on luck and has no decision-making or strategy involved at all, then keno could be for you. If you’re a stickler for statistics, odds, and lessening the house edge as much as possible, then keno may not be your game.

Is online keno better than playing live keno at a land-based casino?

Video keno and online casinos will often offer the game with lower betting limits than brick-and-mortar casinos and also in a more rapid fashion as you don’t need to wait for the countdown clock to reach zero. Most importantly, online keno will offer a game with a much lower house edge, usually between 5% and 10%. This means that the edge is very similar to slots, so it’s a much better option to play online on these types of keno games.

Can I make a one-spot bet in Keno Vegas?

Yes, you can make one spot bet on Vegas Keno. In that case, the odds are about 1 in four that you’ll win. However, the chance for a big payout is lost. It’s better to lower the coin denomination and bet more spots if you want a shot at jackpot-level payouts.

Sadonna Price

Sadonna Price Expert in Online Casinos and Poker

Sadonna is a gambling content writer and former professional poker player that loves using her creativity to provide insight into the most interesting aspects of the casino world.

Learn More About Sadonna