How to play Ontario online keno: Origin, strategy and payouts
Learn how to play Ontario online keno, the easy lotto-style game. Find out the origins and all the rules of this popular online casino game. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Along with slots, there's no easier game to play at an Ontario online casino than keno.

It’s essentially a small lottery with frequent daily draws, sometimes mere minutes apart. Players choose numbers that hopefully match the drawn numbers. Payoffs vary greatly based on how many numbers match and the total amount wagered on each draw.

Anyone who likes to play the big lotteries will love keno. You may not win a million-dollar jackpot, but you can still make a nice score relative to your investment.

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People who play government-run lotteries and keno will likely say they won more through keno. And you’ll never have to wait until the weekend for the draw. Best of all, nobody ever had to put on their thinking cap or bring their A-game to play keno.

Origins

The story behind keno is fascinating and extensive. More than 2,000 years ago, keno originated in China under a different name. It was called "baige piao," which refers to tickets in a betting game that involved homing pigeons.

As bettors played keno throughout China, government officials took a cut to look the other way. For centuries, the game involved filling out a ticket with the first 80 characters of the 1,000 Chinese ideograms identified in The Book of a Thousand Characters.

Chinese immigrants brought baige piao to the United States in the 1840s. Numbers replaced characters in the game's early 20th-century iteration, known as the Chinese lottery. Eventually, the name keno — a variation of the French word quine, meaning group of five — took hold.

Baige piao also was the inspiration for bingo and modern lotteries. Keno is popular in casinos worldwide, and it's perfect for online play.

How to play Ontario online Keno

Playing keno is as simple as choosing a set of numbers between 1 and 80. Bettors input their numbers on a computerized keno card, along with the amount of their wager. You can play for as little as $1 and win hundreds of dollars — occasionally much more — depending on how many numbers you hit.

A typical keno card has a grid of eight rows, each with 10 numbers on it. Just select your numbers, set your wager amount and wait for the draw. A computer randomly generates 20 winning numbers, as opposed to brick-and-mortar casinos, where balls are drawn from a receptacle.

You can play multiple cards to cover more numbers and increase your chance of success.

As for choosing numbers, the possible combinations are endless. Some bettors lean on birthdays, famous historical dates or any numbers that come to mind.

Some people play the same numbers over and over, knowing that sooner or later at least some of them will hit. You may also use a quick-pick option, in which the computer chooses numbers for you.

Pay table

At the start of each draw, a pay table will show approximate payoffs based on the total amount wagered by all players. Payoffs are determined by the amount of numbers correctly chosen, as well as the percentage of numbers you hit.

If you picked six numbers and hit five, for instance, the return might be 500 times the amount of your bet. But if you picked 12 and hit three, the payout might be just 3-to-1.

Remember, the higher the percentage of correct numbers, the bigger the payout.      

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