How Keno Is Better Than The Lottery

How Keno Is Better Than The Lottery

Lottery Vs Keno

Both keno and the lottery have been around for centuries, as they have managed to stand the test of time as a couple of the most played gambling games in world history.

Keno has been around so long that it was one of the main ways that the Chinese government financed the Great Wall of China! And the history of lotteries goes back to at least the 15th century! These timeless games are quite similar in many aspects, but there are a couple of key distinctions that I think makes keno better than the lottery. Before we get into why I think keno is the superior game, first we are going to take a quick look at the history of the games and their similarities.

Then we will wrap things up by explaining that if you are choosing between playing keno or the lottery, that keno is the game to play!

Keno History

About 3,000 years ago, the emperor of the Han Dynasty in China found himself in a position where he didn’t have enough money on hand to fund his military. Without a well-funded military, his crown was at risk of being overtaken by intruders and he needed a way to raise a bunch of cash quickly.

Instead of raising taxes on his people, he decided to try a different approach, as he invented a gambling game called keno.

As crazy as it might sound now, keno owes its start as a way to finance the Chinese war machine and it was so successful in doing so, that the Chinese government was able to erect the single greatest defense weapon of all time, the Great Wall of China.

Please Note:

The Great Wall continues to stand to this very day and if you ever get a chance to visit one of the true wonders of the world, just remember that the wall wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for keno! Now, that is a fun story that we like to tell about the origins of keno, but in reality, nobody really knows how much of that is truth and how much is legend.

But what we do know is that people have been playing keno for thousands of years and while the live version of keno in casinos has seen its popularity dip in the last couple of generations, the slot machine version of the game continues to be amongst the most popular casino offerings in the world.

Lottery History

Similar to keno, the exact origins of lotteries are disputed, and nobody can say for sure when the first time it was that people took bets on a lottery.

What we do know is that people have always loved get rich quick schemes!

The lottery has been one of the most popular ways to test fate for at least several hundred years.

Depending on which historian you believe:

Some even claim that it was the lottery, not keno, that financed the Great Wall of China, as an early version of the game was developed by the same Chinese Han Dynasty, all of the way back in 200 BC.

When the US was first settled by Europeans, they brought the lottery with them, and players have been playing lotteries in America since the early 16th century.

Today’s modern lotto games don’t look all that different than the first lottery games, as the game looks much like it did thousands of years ago.

While there is certainly a lot more money involved nowadays, as lottery jackpots now regularly get into the hundreds of millions of dollars, picking your numbers and hoping that they are drawn in today’s modern world, looks a lot like it did when lotteries first gained popularity.

Similarities Between Keno And The Lottery

At their core, these games are very similar. You pick your numbers, numbers are drawn, and based on how many of your numbers are called, you win a prize.

If you have played one of these games you would be able to catch on to the other one very quickly, as the goal is the same, match as many numbers as you can and try to hit them all for a jackpot! The differences between these games are mostly in how you pick your numbers, how many numbers you can pick, and how much money you can win. Those differences are the main reason that both games still exist, but in reality, both of these games are just number’s based drawing games. But for me, those small differences make keno the game to play when you are comparing keno vs the lottery.

Now that we know a little bit about the history of these games (very similar) and the gameplay (again very similar) now we are going to tell you why keno is better than the lottery!

Why Keno Is Better Than The Lottery

In this final section, we are going to tell you why keno is better than the lottery. Some of these reasons are going to come down to personal preference and some of them are stone-cold facts that cannot be denied. Here are TheSportsGeek’s top-3 reasons why keno is better than the lottery!

You Can Pick More Numbers When Playing Keno

Lotteries tend to be very structured games. If you take Power Ball, for example, you pick 5 numbers and then a Power Ball number. That’s it. There isn’t any option to take more or less than your 6 total numbers.

Are you having a tough time deciding whether or not you should pick your wedding anniversary or your firstborn’s birthday for your final lottery number? Play keno instead and you can pick both, as you can play up to 20 numbers!

Keno is the exact opposite, as you can play anywhere from 1 number all of the way up to 20 numbers. That gives players added flexibility to choose how they want to play the game. As a player, I love being able to choose just how much action I want, and you can only do that when playing keno.

Keno Has A Lower House Advantage

Now, I want to get this out of the way right up front, neither keno nor the lottery is a very good gamble when you compare the games to other forms of gambling.

Please Note:

A standard Las Vegas slot machine is going to pay back north of 85% of all of the money collected, whereas both of these games are significantly worse when it comes to how much the house is going to make off of your bets.

And while both of these games have high house advantages, I don’t want to use false equivalency here, as the lotto is a borderline scam when you see how much money they take out of the prize pool!

The Lottery

Modern-day lotteries generally take about 50% of the entire prize pool right up front. Yeah, that’s right, if you see a player win $100 million dollars, you can safely assume that roughly $200 million was collected.


To make matters worse, when you do hit that elusive jackpot, then the government is going to tax your winnings yet again! Most people these days choose to take a lump sum payout when they hit it big on the lottery and the standard fee for taking all of your money upfront? Half. Again.

But wait, there is more!

When you take that lump sum, which has already been cut in half twice, then you are going to have to pay taxes on your winnings, which depending on the size of your win, could be up to nearly 40%! The lottery takes half of the money up front, half of it again when you actually want to collect your winnings as a lump sum, and then Uncle Sam steps in for his piece of the pie and takes almost half again!

Some quick back of the napkin math says that if a lottery collects $200 million dollars, the winner gets $100 million, who then takes the lump sum of $50 million, and then pays taxes on that, and ends up taking home about $30 million. That is still a boatload of cash to win, but where did that other $170 million go?


Keno is the highest hold game played on any casino floor. But it is nowhere nearly as rough as the lottery when it comes to taking your hard earned cash. Most keno games are going to hold anywhere from a third to 40% of all money collected.

Please Note:

The house advantage of keno is going to change depending on how many numbers you are playing, but no matter how you play the game, you are going to be at a steep disadvantage.

And yes, if you hit it big, you will still have to pay the tax man as well, but when you compare these games in terms of house advantage, keno is clearly the game that you are going to want to be playing.

You Can Play Keno Any Time

We have already talked about how keno is much more flexible when it comes to how you play the game and why it is financially a much better gamble when compared to the lottery. Now we are going to give you our final reason why I see keno as the game to play, convenience.

Most lotteries run once a week. No matter how much action that you are trying to get into, you can only play once per week. You can play as many tickets as you would like during that one drawing, but what if you want to gamble the rest of the week too? Well, when you are playing the lottery, you are out of luck. That isn’t the case with keno, as you can play keno any time that you want, for as long as you want!

Most Las Vegas keno lounges are open 24/7 and even if the lounge is closed, nearly all casinos now offer overnight keno play options, where they keep drawing balls and playing games all night long, even when the lounge isn’t open. And you can always jump on a keno slot machine and play whenever you have the itch.


For me, keno is a much better game than the lottery, and really it isn’t even close. I work hard for my money, and I want to be able to spend it when, and how, that I want. Keno gives you flexible options on how many numbers you can play, when you can play, and you actually have some chance of winning money when you play the game, as the house doesn’t keep everything.

Please Note:

The odds to win the Mega Millions Lottery, one of the most popular lotteries in the US, is a staggering 1 in 176 million. The odds to hit 10 out of 10 numbers on keno? About 1 in 9 million. I know both of those are big numbers and the chances are slim, but I would much rather take my chances on that 1 in 9 million shot than the 1 in 176 million.

Have I convinced you yet that you want to play keno rather than the lottery?


Now it is time for you to get in on the action! If you didn’t already know, playing keno online is a great alternative to live or slot machine keno, as you get all of the same action as playing in a casino and you can do it from the comfort of your own home!

Want to give online keno a shot? Swing by TheSportsGeek’s play keno online page, where we bring our readers exclusive offers and deals at all of the top online casinos! Here you will find sign-up bonuses, deposit matches, and much more! Thanks for reading and may the odds be in your favor as you try your luck at keno!


Author: Tamara Kim