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Keno vs Bingo: Discovering the Differences

06 July 2023 - 3 min read

Keno and bingo are two of the most popular, yet simple casino games in the world. At first look they both appear strikingly similar; they both use numbered cards, involve randomly drawn numbers, have simple rules and winning relies heavily on luck rather than skill. Whilst there are similarities, there are major distinctions between the two which produce two very different games.

Table of Contents

Keno Vs Bingo: The Main Differences
Fact Keno Bingo
Country of Origin China Italy
Date Invented c. 200 B.C. 1530
Choice of Numbers Player can choose up to 20 Player is assigned numbers on a playing card
Ways to Win Match numbers chosen to numbers drawn Complete a full house or complete lines
Time per Game Less than 1 minute 5 to 10 minutes
Record Jackpot Win $11.2 million $11.5 million

The Different History of the Games

Today bingo and keno share many similarities, but their origins could not be more different! Keno is by far the elder of the two games, with its origins tracing back over 3000 years to Ancient China. If we are to believe the legends, then keno was invented as a way for the Han Dynasty to raise money for its war efforts without having to levy a tax on its citizens. So popular was the new game that the funds raised helped to build one of the most famous structures ever built, the imposing Great Wall of China!

At just under 500 years old, Bingo is a veritable spring chicken in comparison! It was originally introduced as a lottery in 1530 and subsequently moulded into the game we know in love today by French aristocracy and British industrialists through the 17th and 18th centuries. Bingo’s popularity soon travelled outside of Europe, and by the 20th century it had gained favour in the USA. Indeed, it is in America where the game was reportedly christened “Bingo” by Long Island toy manufacturer Edwin S. Lowe.

Choosing Your Numbers

One the major ways the bingo and keno differ is when it comes to choosing your numbers. In Bingo the process of actually choosing numbers simply does not exist. You purchase your card with a random set of numbers, and you hope they will prove lucky.  

In Keno there can be up to 80 numbers to choose from. Players receive their cards and can choose a selection that they think/hope will get drawn out. Traditionally, players would have chosen ten or fifteen numbers per game. However, games of keno can vary depending on the rules and norm of the establishment it is played in. For example, It is not unusual to see online games of keno where players need only select six numbers from a card of 49.

This leads to another important distinction between bingo and keno – the bet. Bingo doesn’t have the flexibility of keno. In keno you can bet on the same numbers every time, change your numbers every time or even divide your chosen numbers in to sets.

Different Ways To Win

Keno strikes a strong resemblance to the lotteries from across the world. You choose your numbers, and if they get drawn you win a prize. The more numbers you match, the bigger your prize! Indeed, if you can match twenty numbers you can win the world’s biggest keno jackpot of $20 million! Bingo offers a much different approach.

In bingo your card has a random selection of numbers. The aim of the game for all the numbers on your card to be called out first. If all the numbers on your card get called, you win. In certain types of games, you may also win prizes for completing horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines, or even for completing a specific pattern on your card with the called numbers.

The Pace of the Games

Keno is by far the faster paced game. This is because you do not have to wait around for numbers to be called out by announce, nor do you need to wait for your fellow players to tick their numbers off their card. Keno fans would argue that the faster pace, alongside the fact that you chose your own numbers, makes keno the more exciting game.

Bingo fans, however, may argue that their game is the more enjoyable game when it comes to the social aspect. This is because their game is considered to have a more laid-back approach. The numbers being called out and the time taken to tick off numbers on the playing cards leads to a slower, more relaxing experience.

Keno Vs Bingo – Which is Better?

There’s no doubt that both of these games are incredibly popular across the world. Keno lounges are commonplace in almost every major casino in the world, while bingo halls have been a constant presence in our towns and cities for generations. Fans of each would argue, perhaps convincingly, that one is markedly better than the other for many of the same reasons that have been outlined in this article, but which is the better game?

The truth is that the game you prefer will be entirely based on your own personal taste. If the social aspect appeals to you then perhaps bingo would be more appealing, but if a fast paced, dynamic game is more to your liking then keno is the game for you. Whichever game you choose, you will be safe in the knowledge that you will be playing a classic!