History of Keno
Even though the game’s name has French or Latin roots, the history of keno definitely originated in China. Pinpointing the exact time of the lottery-like game’s birth is somewhat debatable. It is probable that a game similar to keno began to be played about 2,200 years ago during the Han Dynasty. In this theory the game was introduced by ruler Cheung Leung to help raise money to support the ancient city during time of war. Historians have a hard time accepting this because the first documented lottery to help fund a public society wasn’t accepted in China until the late 1800s.
Keno stayed sheltered in China until it crossed the Pacific during the first wave of Chinese immigrants to America in the early 1800s. When reaching America, the history of keno was slightly modified when the game’s characters were reduced to make it more Westernized. There was a slight changing point in keno history in 1932 due to a problem concerning the legality in Nevada. Although gambling was permitted, keno was considered a lottery which wasn’t allowed. Operators made a slight adjustment and decided to change the name to Race Horse Keno where it was permitted to replace the numbers with horses.
Current gambling laws do allow a lottery style game and many casinos offer it as an alternative to table games and slots. The internet has also ignited an online keno history. Things are a lot different than they were a couple thousand years ago when the concept of keno was born.