History of Keno

keno history

Keno is definitely one of the oldest casino games and we know for sure that it exists for more than three thousand years. The game, invented by a leader of the great Han Dynasty, a certain Cheung Leung, aimed at providing the city with more money. At this time, Leung’s city was involved in a war and there were neither money nor resources anymore.

Keno were used to finance projects

Keno was part of a subtle taxation system. It enabled Cheung Leung to earn money in order to continue the war. Keno spread throughout China and citizens started playing it with intensity. Historians say that Keno was also useful while building the largest national project China had, the Great Wall, as it enabled to fund the raw materials that were used for the construction. However, right after this event, Keno did not develop until much later.

Keno was a pedagogical tool

What we can also say for sure, is that the game invented by Cheung Leung was already similar to the modern variation we are used to play nowadays. But the Chinese game was apparently based on a popular poem entitled The Thousand Character Classic. The poem was used to educate people, to make them learn how to count or how to read. In a sense, the poem’s writer, Zhou Xingsi, is also one of the fonder of Keno. Keno used one thousand Chinese symbols when it was first created.

Keno was a form of lottery

Shortly after 1515, Keno began being associated to the term “lottery”. The same word being derived from the Italian “lotto”, Keno possibly crossed this country while coming to the US shores. In the United States, between 1790 and 1860, raffles and lottery games were already used to finance rural buildings such as jails, hospitals or libraries. Keno was probably one of these games.

Keno emerged in San Francisco

In the beginning of the 20th century, the city of San Francisco was the core of many casino games and was used to welcoming gamblers. Keno was therefore officially played as a casino game in this region though all the different forms of gambling were strictly prohibited due to important corruption in the raffle industry. Several years after, in Nevada, gambling was eventually legalized, but this was not the case of lottery games whatsoever… Consequently, Keno operators had no choice but to rename the game. It became the ‘Racehorse Keno’. The game’s name changed one more time when a law meant to tax off-track betting passed a few years after, and, Keno was legalized for real!

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