Learn how to play online keno

Nail the basics with our introductory guide to keno – learn the rules and bets.

While keno’s online popularity is relatively new, the game’s origins can be traced to ancient China. In the 1800s, keno was brought to the United States by Chinese immigrants, beginning the West's love affair with the game. Be aware that most forms of keno come with an extremely high house edge, sometimes as high as twenty-five percent and also, bets cannot be optimised. That being said, if you brave the house edge there are some massive progressive jackpots to be won, both in live games and video/online variants.

How to play

The rules of keno are very straightforward. Virtual keno is essentially a hybrid between a lottery game and an online slots machine, while live games are basically rapid-fire lotteries. In most respects, live keno and online games play identically, except the former uses paper cards and the latter a virtual interface.

Pick your numbers

Just like in bingo or a lottery, you choose a set of numbers on a slip or ticket. The amount of numbers you can pick depends on the game, but is usually within a range of 2-10 or 1-15. However, you will always pick numbers between 1 and 80.

Numbers are drawn

At set intervals (measured in minutes for live keno and seconds for video or online keno) 20 winning numbers are randomly selected from 80 possible numbers.

Count your catches

The game will pay-out depending on players’ ‘catches’ – i.e. numbers marked on their slip that match the winning numbers drawn.

Rinse and repeat!

Players buy new slips in preparation for a new draw. That’s all there is to it!


There are several bets that can be placed in keno, with varying pay-outs depending on your selected number groupings. You can also boost your return with combination bets.

Straight ticket Betting your marked numbers as a single wager is known as a ‘straight ticket’ – this is the simplest possible way to play keno. However, many players like to bet additional combinations (often known as a ‘way ticket') For example, a player might mark six numbers and circle two groups of three, marking the side of their slip ‘2/3,’ ‘1/6’. In a £1 game, this would mean betting £3 for a £1 wager on each of the three-number combinations and on the overall six-number combination.
King ticket A number circled alone is a ‘king’ number which is added to all other combinations. For instance, if you had bet on two, four-number combinations and circled a king number, you would have a nine-number combination overall if the king was drawn.
Combination ticket With this ticket, you can play various combinations of number groupings. As an example, you could play a ticket with two, three and four-number groups as 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5 (with the two and three groups), 1/6 (two and fours), 1/7 (three and four) or 1/9 (all three.) This ticket would cost you £7 in total at £1 a game.

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