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Is Keno Really Random? RNG Explained

27 July 2023 - 3 min read

When the digital age ushered in a new era of gaming, players flocked to online casinos to enjoy games from the casino floor. What was once the exclusive dominion of land-based casinos, was now available to significantly more players from significantly more providers. However, with this new technology came a lot of suspicion.

Could a computer programme really be a truthful and as fair as a croupier at a physical casino. Afterall, the online casinos pay for these programmes, why would they pay for one that could lose them money?

The truth is that online casinos do strive to make their offerings fair and random, through the use of intricate algorithms called Random Number Generators (RNG’s). These RNG’s are utilised to produce a seemingly random sequence of outcomes to provide honest outcomes to keno, slots and card games. Are they really random though? Can that randomness be guaranteed? The answer is yes…and also no!

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Is Keno Really Random?

Keno is one of the simplest casino games in the world. Although there are a few different variations of keno, the game is broadly similar across all of its different incarnations. There is a range of numbers, usually from 1 to 80 and you make a selection. The number of numbers you select will vary from casino to casino, but it is usually between 1 and 20. Numbers are then randomly drawn and the more numbers you match, the bigger your prize.

In order to keep the game fair, casinos utilise an RNG to carry out the draw. The RNG will select the numbers as they have been programmed to do so, in order to ensure that these draws are as random as possible. Therefore, at first glance, keno really is random. However, upon further examination you will find that that this is not be the whole story. To better grasp why that is, you first need to understand how random number generators actually work.

How Do Random Number Generators Work?

Random Number Generators are the computer programmes that produce the outcomes that you encounter in every slot and digital casino game you play. Through the use of complex and intricate algorithms, they take a seed number and from there produce a random set of outcomes.

These outcomes include the reels on your slot games, where the ball lands in virtual roulette and, of course, the numbers drawn in keno. This outcome is then considered to be random, and also ensures that the promised “Return to Player” (RTP) percentage is adhered to.

To produce the outcome, the RNG will use a seed value from which the algorithm will determine its outcomes. Where these seed values come from is as varied as the results they produced. Atmospheric noise, radiation levels and key-strokes have all been known to be used for the seed value to ensure a cryptographically secure RNG.

Can RNG Be Predicted?

This is the question that many gamblers have pondered at least once in their lives! Is it possible to identify a pattern in the RNG to predict the next outcome? If that was possible then it would be possible to beat the house and win a fortune! A belief that this is possible has led to the gambler’s fallacy that a slot machine can be “ready to payout”, or that there is such a thing as “hot” or “cold” numbers in keno.

However, whilst it may be a fallacy, there is some truth to it. You see, there is no such thing as “random” when to comes to computer programmes. They are programmed to carry out a specific task and they carry it out. RNG’s produce numbers via a mathematical algorithm. By definition, any number generated mathematically cannot be random so computers cannot produce a truly random event. Therefore, it is theoretically possible to spot a pattern and beat the RNG.

Don’t get too excited though, you would need to break a few laws to do so! You would need access to the seed value (which can change every millisecond) AND you would need access to the algorithm used. Both of these are as doggedly protected as you may expect, and are not given out freely, so for all intents and purposes we can say that RNG’s cannot be predicted by you or me.

Have RNG’s Ever Been Beaten?

For the typical layperson, it is an impossible task to “beat” a casino’s RNG and predict the outcomes of events. However, it has been known for those with privileged access to the system to take steps to bend the future in their favour.

In 2010 in Iowa, USA, an employee of the state lottery took advantage of his position to hack the lottery’s RNG. Eddie Tipton and his brother Tommy used a computer code he had developed to help them to “predict” the outcomes of lotteries on specific days. To do this, Tipton took advantage of his position to hack the algorithm to use his code and ensure that he would win. The scheme netted the pair a reported US$24 million from lotteries in at least five states before they were caught, arrested, and sent to prison.

Keno Really Is Random!

As we have seen, RNG’s do ensure that patterns and outcome are as random as possible in online casinos. Whilst it may technically be possible to identify patterns to predict outcomes, doing this in practice is pretty much impossible, whether you are a famous gambler or a first-timer. Impossible without breaking the law that is!

Almost every provider of online keno will use an accredited RNG which will have been tested across millions of different games to ensure that the outcomes are as random and fair as is technologically possible. Therefore, the next time you sit down to enjoy a game of online keno, you can be safe in the knowledge that keno really is random!