Keno 101

The odds in video keno are about as bad as slot machines – or worse. I have often wondered why anyone would ever play it – live or video. Generally, people who play keno are willing to buck long odds to have a chance for a big payout – like the lottery. To me, it’s about as exciting as watching paint dry.

But, everyone looks out a different window.  Whatever floats your boat.  To each his own……  You get what I’m saying.

One day, I was playing next to someone who ALWAYS plays keno.  I looked and he had just hit for $16,000!  I was happy for him – but still not enough for me to switch from a more skilled game such as video poker.

So, here’s a little refresher course, or Keno 101 if you’ve never played.

Old Chinese Keno Ticket

Old Chinese Keno Ticket

Keno is believed to date back to China in the 1st century AD when characters from one of Confucius` poems were used, rather than numbers, in the matrix. The object of the game to choose from one (1) to ten (10) numbers between one and eighty, in hope that some or all will be randomly selected by the centralized computer. Keno is a simple game of luck, much like most lottery games, where the player chooses numbers and hope as many as possible match those randomly drawn by a hopper or machine. According to The Wizard of Odds, Michael Shackelford, the odds are much better in video keno than live keno, keep in mind that the rate of play on a machine is about 50 times faster. Assuming the same bet size per game, you can expect to lose more per hour playing video keno.

Mr. Shackelford goes on to say on his site “….If you must play keno, the only skill is choosing where to play to play and then how many numbers to choose. It makes no difference which numbers who actually choose. Contrary to popular myth, legitimate keno games, like those in Las Vegas, are fair and every ball has a 1 in 80 chance of being drawn each game”

There are other reasons to play Keno.

  1. Video Keno can be slowed by the speed button.
  2. You don’t have to interact with others.
  3. While the odds are poor, the game can be a slower alternative if your casino visit gets off to a horrible start.
  4. Playing video keno at a bar can be an easy way of getting free drinks at a lower rate of
  5. Finally – it’s not brain surgery.  No need to practice the strategy – there is none.  Some will have a different opinion, but it’s basically “bet, pick the numbers, and let the balls be randomly chosen.”

According to Al Moe of All About Gambling, the most popular Video Keno game is Caveman Bingo, offers a bonus payoff.  After choosing your numbers, three of your non-chosen numbers will be marked with a big spotted dinosaur egg. If you have eggs that match any of the 20 numbers the machine chooses, the payoff is multiplied.

Caveman Keno

Caveman Keno

One matching egg pays the standard payoff, two matching eggs (they hatch as they go) pays 4 to 1, and if all three eggs match the payoff is 8 to 1 (some older machines are actually 10 to 1).  Al states that with the 8x multiplier the overall payoff is close to 96-percent, a very good game, which is actually better than most penny through dollar slots!  Something to consider.Keno CT
Live Keno can be found in every New England state (yes, even in Vermont). Connecticut is the latest to add live Keno to restaurants and stores. Each state’s Lottery system runs these games.  Foxwoods seems to be the only casino still offering live keno.

You might give it a try.  Just passing the time might make you a few unexpected bucks at Keno.

That’s all for now.


Massachusetts Gaming – Will KENO Success Translate to Online Gaming?

mass lottery

Mass lottery

The Massachusetts Lottery has shown this year that it is one of the most successful lotteries in the country.

Without casinos, Massachusetts residents have had to dabble in the lottery system’s KENO offerings.  Any given day, a group of friends can be found at the bar, elbow to elbow, longtime pals, waiting for the next Keno drawing on the TV screens, as they’ve done hundreds of times before. The wait is never long. Keno drawings come every four minutes, a drumbeat of betting opportunities that make the lottery game an enduring staple of Massachusetts gambling and pub culture.

Customers play a round of keno at Daybreak Doughnuts in Bridgeport

For more information on KENO and the Lottery, check out our previous posts below:

KENO 101 

Lottery & Scratch Tickets – Exercise of Hope or Futility?

Keno — the random numbers game offered in many convenience stores and 1,200 bars and restaurants across the state — rang up $900 million in sales last fiscal year, with sales climbing 20 percent since 2010.

That makes Massachusetts the country’s leading Keno purveyor by far, accounting for almost one-quarter of all Keno sales in the United States. Only New York comes close, but even with nearly three times the population, it falls short by $90 million.

But now the Mass Lottery has its eye on a new endeavor – Online Gaming.

Online Gamer

Online Gamer

According to WGCB in Springfield, there’s a strong effort underway to bring online gaming to Massachusetts, stemming from the Massachusetts Lottery Commission which said it’s a way to reach out to a younger market.

Stephen Crosby, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission chairman, said “We need to make sure the online gaming environment is as safe and secure as the bricks and mortar environment [casinos].”  The chairman additionally observed that online gaming must be properly regulated to make sure all games are fair, that players are the proper age, and that no one is “cooking the books.”

A few states have been looking into it with a very cautious stance due to regulations and who would do the regulating.  Many states involved in the process look to the state’s Lottery to manage online gaming.  Internet gambling revenue is increasing in at least two of the three states that currently offer it – New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada,

Internet gambling revenue in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey badly missed initial forecasts, which themselves were overly aggressive,” said Chris Krafcik, research director for Gambling Compliance, which tracks gambling legislation nationwide.

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson

The industry still faces some nagging issues, as well as looming threats – including an effort in Congress to ban Internet gambling nationwide. The Restoration of America’s Wire Act has been introduced in both chambers this year, backed by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and could come up for a hearing next month.  With a new administration leaning more right than ever in the last ten years, and a lame duck presidency now, legislation efforts need to improve dramatically or face a possible dead end for all.

Proponents of online gaming in Massachusetts said it’s time to open a new gambling frontier , lottery games offered around the clock on mobile devices and computers.  The MGC wants to make sure the playing field is a level one when it comes to gaming.

“We want to hear from licensees to see how it affects them but trying to find a way for millennials to engage is trending online so we’ll have to see how it develops,” said Bruce Stebbins.  He referred to the heavy investments land casino operators have made in the state, and assured all concerned that the Commission does not want to undermine the local economy, and will therefore be attentive to make sure the land operators are treated fairly with the advent of the new genres of gaming technology.Daily-Fantasy-Sports


The Massachusetts Lottery Commission has already lobbied for permission to offer more online options in order to attract the younger millennial demographic so important to the future viability of the institution.  Recent reviews have indicated that a sharp decline in revenue is likely unless online products are offered as well.


In any case, a new frontier is exactly where this is going.  With the merger of FanDuel & DraftKings regarding Fantasy Sport Betting, regulations will be needed to watch for monopolies and an even playing field for all players.  But, if successful, the Massachusetts model could be the one other states follow.

Only time will tell – but time doesn’t appear to be on internet gambling’s side.





KENO – Connecticut Businesses & Legislature Has Big Hopes

Keno CTKeno, run by The Connecticut Lottery. is available at the approximately 2900 lottery retails – bars, restaurants and retailers – across the state as of April.

So far, according to Russell Blair of the Hartford Courant, “the launch has been far less contentious than the debate that rankled legislators, pitting those who saw it as a harmless new addition against those who saw it as the state preying on compulsive gamblers to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year.”

First, a KENO primer:

Keno is believed to date back to China in the 1st century AD when characters from one of Confucius` poems were used, rather than numbers, in the matrix. The object of the game to choose from one (1) to ten (10) numbers between one and eighty, in hope that some or all will be randomly selected by the centralized computer. Keno Retailers are equipped with a television monitor that displays a new drawing every certain number of minutes, usually 4-6 minutes. A win occurs when some or all of the numbers (spots) selected by the player are matched by the computer. The more numbers that are matched, the higher the payout. It is even possible to win a cash prize when none of the wagered on numbers in a ten spot game are drawn. Tickets start at $1 and the results are shown live on monitors in the establishments.

KenoT CT 2Keno, run by the Connecticut Lottery Corp., launched with nearly 3,000 locations across the state. It’s available at any retailer that has a lottery terminal, such as gas stations and convenience stores, in addition to the bars, restaurants and social clubs that signed up. The Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequots is cashing in with the state. They approved an agreement with the state Office of Policy & Management allowing Connecticut to operate Keno outside the casinos, in exchange for 25 percent of revenues generated.

Pros & Cons?  Depends who you speak to.


  • Those in favor look to states along Connecticut’s borders to show fiscal help. In New York, that state’s keno game – Quick Draw – sold more than $787 million in tickets in the last fiscal year. Keno sales totaled more than $850 million in Massachusetts and more than $80 million in Rhode Island.
  • The bars get a take of the total money spent on keno tickets as well as the winnings.
  • A decline in business at CT bars and restaurants due to tighter DUI & non-smoking policies (all supported by NETG) may find another new source of income and business


  • Those against feel that it’s just another addiction waiting to happen and feeds into lost income already a concern by CT residents.
  • Some bar & restaurant owners feel it’s a hindrance, and worry that people might spend too much money on keno, not having enough left for drinks, food or staff tips.


Customers play a round of keno at Daybreak Doughnuts in Bridgeport

Customers play a round of keno at Daybreak Doughnuts in Bridgeport.  Courtesy of CT Post

Russell Blair’s article continues to say “It’s too early to tell if keno will have a noticeable impact on the bottom line at the bars and restaurants that carry it.”

Playing KENO has been available for years in Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, and recently started in Maine in 2015. KENO is still being introduced to state legislature, again this year, in New Hampshire and is not available through the lottery in Vermont.