Many gamblers may be familiar with the classic game of keno. This is basically a lottery-style game in which players select a few numbers and then see several numbers drawn. Keno players are hoping that their own numbers hit – rewarding them a nice payout in the process.

Slot machines also feature random results and keno slot machines combine these traditional games – greatly speeding up the keno action in the process. These games can be found in many casinos around the world and offer an alternative to traditional slot play.

Keep reading to learn more about keno slot machines as well as the history and mechanics behind classic keno.

  • Keno slots are a video and digital version of the classic game of keno.

  • The game is 2,000 years old and similar to a lottery or bingo.

  • The more numbers a player matches, the more he or she can win depending on how many numbers are selected.

  • Keno slots have added considerably to traditional keno by using more modern themes, gameplay, and bonus features.

  • Playing keno is fairly simple and there is no real strategy to consider.

  • Using a mobile phone, players can test out some keno slots easily and for free.

1 – How to Play Keno Slot Machines

Most casinos offer players the relaxed gaming environment of playing keno. In a typical game, players select up to 15 numbers on a keno card among a total of 80 available numbers. Players usually use a dabber or crayon to make their selections. Here are two key terms players will find when playing some keno.

Spot– These are the numbers a player select on their keno cards. The classic version of the game is also called “spot keno” at some casinos.

Catch– This is the term used to describe spots that match numbers that are drawn. The goal is to “catch” as many numbers as possible to maximize winnings.

Once the selection time has passed, random numbers are then produced from a keno hopper. Players then watch a screen showing all the numbers and highlighting the winning picks. Payouts are based on the number of selections made, the amount bet, and the total spots that hit when numbers are drawn. The game’s pay table shows how much is paid out for catching numbers and these vary by casino.

There aren’t a ton of bells and whistles to the classic game of keno, although some alternative versions found on keno slots feature additional balls, multipliers, combinations, and more. Some also allow players to even win free games, similar to winning “free spins” on a traditional video slot. Here’s a quick review of how to play a keno slot:

  1. Select the keno slot you want to play (some platforms offer several options)

  2. Make your spot selections on various numbers. Some platforms also offer a “quick pick” feature that picks random numbers for you.

  3. Hit the “play” button to activate the on-screen hopper and watch the ping-pong balls fall into place to reveal the numbers.

  4. Your winnings will be added to your bank based on the number of spots that are connected with the numbers produced by the hopper.

  5. Press the “play” button to play again. You can use the same spots again or select new numbers.

2 – Odds and Payouts in Keno Slots

When it comes to playing keno, whether the classic live version or on a keno slot game, a player’s winnings are based on the pay table, which includes the number of sports selected and the number of those spots that match the numbers that are drawn from the hopper. The casino generally has a high house edge – usually around 25-40%.

Those are some long odds to overcome, but people enjoy the slow pace of the game and fairly modest wagering limits to keep playing. Here’s a look at some typical payouts below (courtesy of for someone who makes fewer picks and catches them all. Please note that some keno slot games pay out set amounts while others pay out varying odds depending on the number of catches. The more catches a player connects, the more a player can win.






15 to 1



45 to 1



100 to 1

Here’s another example of spots selected but with fewer catches. Notice the reduced payouts because of a larger number of picks and fewer catches.






2 to 1



2 to 1



2 to 1



1 to 1



3 to 1

So is there a strategy to keno slots and keno in general? Not really as keno is completely a game of chance. Patience is mostly what helps players as they wait and see if their selections appear. Players can’t overcome the house edge in the long run, but keno is usually a fairly easy and inexpensive game to play when betting just a few numbers.[1] [2] [3]

Quote Open

“Most players believe that choosing four to eight numbers is the best keno strategy,” notes. “This range can give attractive payout odds and feels less risky than selecting one number alone. The more numbers you pick, the higher your chance of matching a winner is. But just remember, the payout multiplier will decrease as your amount of numbers increases.”

Quote Open

3 – Keno Slot Machine Variants

Some keno slots and online keno games ramp up the traditional game to make them a bit more like video slots. Some games feature particular themes, such as Buffalo Keno, with game play tailored toward that theme. Pizza Keno sees a couple of pies readied for the over as players connect winning spots. There are other similar games that enhance keno and look more like traditional slots.

Other games feature differing elements to enhance the game beyond what one might find on the casino floor. Here are just a few of those added elements:

  • Bonus balls – These can pay out more if you catch these number.

  • Multipliers – Land these balls to see your winnings multiplied.

  • Free games – These can be awarded based on winnings or even at random on some keno slot games.

  • Bonus wheels – This is a popular feature on slots and some keno games even offer the chance to spin a bonus wheel.

  • Autoplay – The game continues to play for several games without having to select more numbers or to hit the “play” button. Winnings are sent to the player bank after each game.

  • Hot & cold numbers – Many online keno slots keep track of numbers that have hit frequently and those that haven’t hit.

With fun graphics, sound effects, themes, and game play, keno slot developers have really used some creativity in enhancing what is a pretty basic game. Pick a few spots and give the game a shot!

Take your pick and enjoy our incredible slots below:

Click here to dive into our wide array of free slots.

4 – The History of Keno

Keno is basically a lottery game with limited numbers to choose from, up to 80 in most cases. This classic may be one of the casino’s oldest games historically.

Quote Open

“Keno is of Chinese origin and of great antiquity, dating back at least 2,000 years,” the Encyclopedia Britannica notes. “The original Chinese name for the game is baige piao or pai-ko p’iao, meaning ‘white pigeon ticket,’ a reference to the tickets used in a betting game involving homing pigeons.”

Quote Open

The game could be found in gambling houses in much of China and some of that original version’s details still remain. The originalbaige piao“featured the first 80 characters in Qianziwen (“Book of a Thousand Characters”) instead of numbers.”

The game is also the inspiration for other similar games like bingo and lotteries. Chinese immigrants brought the games to the U.S. in the 1840s and by the early 20th Century, the game had gained popularity. Casinos and gambling houses originally used the term “Chinese lottery,” converting the symbols to numbers. The game had spread to both Reno and Las Vegas by the 1930s through the 1950s.

As slots, video, and computer technology became more prevalent in casinos, seeing more standalone slot-like versions of the game was only natural. As slots became more advanced, translating traditional keno to a slot machine form became fairly common.

Players can now find these machines in many casinos and also at online casino platforms, to play for free or real money. The game plays out much like the classic game, but these options also allow for more additional features as well.

While keno and keno slot machines can be found pretty easily in most casinos, they are not as popular as other slots and table games. The games can offer some low-cost betting with some fun anticipation mixed in and hopefully a few winning numbers along the way.[4] [5]

5 – Online Keno Slot Machines

Finding keno slots online is pretty easy. There are numerous apps available that allow players to check out how the game works and to play for free.

Gameplay is very similar to what one might find in a real casino, although there are usually more features and options when playing online. Players looking to wager some real money may also be able to play for even lower limits via an online platform.

Playing for virtual coins on a social gaming platform can also be a lot of fun when learning how to play. Seeing some of your “spots” hit the board can still be quite a thrill. Take a quick trip to the App Store or Google Play store and you’ll find popular options like Vegas Keno: Lottery Draw, Cleopatra Keno, Keno Bonus Play, and numerous others. Here’s a look at some of the differences between live and online keno.

Live Keno

Online Keno


May be small.

May be even smaller than found in casinos. Free-to-play options are also available.


Can be fairly slow.

May move at a quicker pace than the live version of the original game.

Gaming options

May be more limited.

Some platforms offer several options and features.


Usually in a traditional casino.

Can be found online, via mobile apps, in real-money gaming platforms, and in social gaming environments.

6 – Responsible Gaming When Playing Keno Slots

As with any form of gambling, playing responsibly is of utmost importance. Play within your means and only gamble money that you can afford to do without. Any funds for keno slot play should be considered for entertainment only.

Don’t tap into money that you would need for day-to-day living expenses. Keno may be a slower game, but wagering large amounts can still really sap your funds. Here are a few tips to remember:

  • Set limits for yourself and stick to them.

  • Take some breaks, especially during losing streaks.

  • Go slowly to make your bankroll last longer.

  • Don’t pick too many numbers. Picking a more moderate collection of spots gives you a chance to win more if your numbers do hit.

  • Play online keno slots for free. This can be a fun way to kill some time and still get some enjoyment out of the game.

For more information on safe gambling or if you feel you might have issues with gaming, visit the National Council on Problem Gambling or the Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration, which also offers problem gambling services.

7 – Conclusion

Keno is one of the oldest forms of gambling and the slot machine and online versions have really enhanced gameplay and added more extras. Many games feature fun themes and slot players looking for something different may want to give these games a shot.

Playing keno slots via an app or online for free is a great way to learn the game and have some fun. Pick those lucky numbers and see how things turn out. Some winnings might just be heading your way.



How do you play keno?

This classic game usually involves players selecting a few numbers from 1 to 80. Once the numbers have been selected, a hopper of ping pong balls will reveal a certain number of balls. The more numbers you match, the more winnings you earn.

Modern online keno and keno slots have automated this process and made playing the game a faster experience. These games have also added more themes, advanced gameplay, and bonus opportunities.


Are there any strategies for keno?

Keno is simply a game of chance where players are simply hoping to see their numbers hit the board. There is no real strategy.


Does the casino have a house edge when playing keno?

Most experts say that the casino has an edge of 25% when playing keno.


When was keno invented?

Keno was invented in China about 2,000 years ago. Chinese immigrants brought the game to the U.S. in the 19th Century and the game soon spread to gambling hotbeds like Reno and Las Vegas. As slot technology advanced, the game became a slot version with a random number generator used to produce random number drawings on screen as they would be in a casino hopper.

Sean Chaffin
Sean Chaffin

Sean Chaffin is a longtime freelance writer, editor, and former high school journalism teacher. He has covered the poker and gaming industry for many years.