Great wall of China

Why is keno played with numbers 1 through 80?

Have you ever wondered why the popular lottery game of Keno is played with numbers ranging from 1 to 80? Why not just stick to the standard 1 to 49, like most other lottery games?

Keno is a game of chance that originated in China. It made its way to the United States in the mid-1800s and has been a popular pastime ever since. However, the game’s unique number range has remained a mystery to many players. In this article, we’ll shed some light on this intriguing aspect of Keno.


Building in China

How the Game of Keno Was Created 

Keno is a popular lottery-style game that originated in China during the Han Dynasty around 200 BC. The game was created by a ruler named Cheung Leung, who was facing a financial crisis and needed a way to raise funds for his army. Cheung Leung used the money raised from the game to build the Great Wall of China.  

This game became known as “The White Pigeon Game” because carrier pigeons were used to send the results to outlying villages. Over time, the game evolved and was eventually brought to the United States by Chinese immigrants in the 1800s. It was renamed “Keno” and became a popular form of gambling in casinos and other gaming establishments.

Today, Keno is played in many countries around the world, both in land-based casinos and online. The game continues to evolve, with new variations and rules being introduced to keep players engaged and entertained.

Why Keno Has 80 Numbers 

The game of Keno originally had 80 characters chosen from Qianziwen (“Book of a Thousand Characters”) instead of numbers. 

When the game was introduced to the United States, the Chinese characters were replaced with numbers to make it easier for Americans to understand and play. The numbers from 1 to 80 were chosen because they provide a wide range of possible combinations and outcomes for the game, which makes it more exciting and challenging for players. 

Additionally, having a large range of numbers allows for more flexibility in betting options and payouts.


Mix of numbers

How to Play the Game of Keno 

  1. Select up to 20 numbers between 1 and 80 on a Keno ticket.
  2. Decide how much you want to bet per game.
  3. Choose how many consecutive games you want to play with the same numbers.
  4. The numbers will be randomly drawn and displayed on a Keno board.
  5. Compare the numbers on your ticket to the numbers drawn. The more numbers you match, the more you win.
  6.  If you win, collect your prize from the Keno booth or machine. Prizes vary depending on the number of matches and the amount of your wager.

Final Thoughts 

The reason why the game of keno is played with only the numbers 1 through 80 is due to its historical roots and practicality. Whether you’re a seasoned keno player or a newcomer to the game, understanding its origins can add a new level of appreciation to this classic casino game.

Play online


More from our blog