How To Play Keno Online

Keno is one of the most popular casino games both in retail casinos and online casinos. It’s also a lot like playing the lottery. Players pick numbers in advance and hope they match those randomly chosen by the house.

Keno has a long history, starting in China in the 3rd century BCE. Over 2,000 years later, Keno can be played online in North Carolina on sweepstakes and social casinos.

Keno explained

Keno is played on a Keno card. The card has 80 numbers, 1-80. A player chooses the numbers they think will be drawn by the house. If the numbers they chose match, the player wins. This is how Keno is similar to playing the lottery.

Online Keno Card

How Keno and the lottery are different

The primary difference between Keno and the lottery is that players decide how many numbers they want to pick. The payout amount is determined by how many numbers the player picked compared to how many numbers match the draw.

For example, a player who picked only two numbers and those two numbers were drawn by the house would win more than a player who picked 10 numbers and two numbers matched.

Different Keno games

There are different Keno games, some of which allow players to mark up to 40 numbers, play two games on one card, and bet on number sets. In the traditional Keno game, up to 20 numbers can be chosen.

In a brick-and-mortar casino, numbers are chosen from a ‘Keno hopper’, which dispenses numbered balls. Online casinos, including those that are legal in North Carolina, choose the numbers from a random number generator.

The Keno spot

‘Spots’ are the numbers a player picks. Originally, players marked their Keno cards with a special crayon, not unlike a bingo dabber. In Keno played online, players mark the online Keno card by clicking on the numbers.

A similar term, ‘Spot Keno,’ is the name of the simple classic Keno game, which does not incorporate additional balls, multipliers, or combinations.

How to play online Keno in North Carolina

Playing Keno online in North Carolina is easy to do.

  1. Choose a sweepstakes or social casino and set up an account.
  2. Scroll one of the Keno games.
  3. Select your Keno card—Keno variations use different types of Keno cards. Most Keno games use a card with 80 numbers.
  4. Make your bet—Decide how much you want to bet between the minimum and maximum bet limits. Bets are usually in set increments.
  5. Choose your numbers—Depending on the game, players can select up to 40 numbers.
  6. Check the payout table—In online Keno, you will see the payout table after you have picked your numbers. The payout table shows how much you will win if you match your numbers. The more numbers you match, the more you win. In some Keno variations, you win if you don’t match any numbers.
  7. Choose the number of games—Once you have chosen your lucky numbers, you can play more than one game using the same numbers. You will also have the option to increase your bet size if your winning spots are selected.
  8. The draw—The numbers that are drawn will show on the screen. Online Keno also indicates the ‘hot’ numbers, those drawn recently, and ‘cold’ numbers, those not recently drawn.
  9. Making a match—When you match a number, it is called ‘catching a spot.’ The number of spots you catch and the number of spots you choose determines the size of your win.

How to pick Keno numbers

For the best odds of winning, choose four to eight numbers.

The fewer numbers you pick, the lower your chance of winning, but the payout is more if you win. The more numbers you pick, the better your chance of winning, but the payout is lower. However, the payout percentage and odds vary with the number of spots.

Due to the payout difference and odds, choosing between four and eight numbers is your best bet. This is because the payout with fewer than four numbers is less than with four or more numbers. The chances of winning with eight numbers are about 230,115 to 1. The chances of winning with nine numbers skyrocket, about 1.38 million to 1.

Online Keno selects numbers using a random number generator (RNG). There is no pattern when using an RNG. Some numbers do not occur more or less often than others.

You can choose the numbers you want individually or have the numbers chosen for you randomly by the computer. Either method has the same chance of winning.

Keno game variations

The online sweepstakes and social casinos in North Carolina each have unique variations of Keno. Below are some of the more common types of Keno games you will find online in North Carolina.

Spot Keno or Straight Ticket Keno

This is the standard Keno game. The variations come from the number of spots you can choose. In the most common Spot Keno game, you choose from 1 to 15 spots. This can be varied commonly to 20, 32, or 40 spots on one card.

Power Keno

Power Keno is similar to the basic Keno game. The difference is the addition of a winning multiplier. If the last number drawn is one that you have chosen, then the payout is multiplied. Usually, the multiplier is 4x the winning amount, but can be much more.

Super or Bonus Spot Keno

This is the same concept as Power Keno, but the multiplier is activated if the first number drawn is one that you have chosen.

Mini Keno

Mini Keno is exactly what the name implies—a smaller version of the standard game. Typically, in Mini Keno, half the numbers are used. Thus, ten numbers are drawn from 40 rather than 20 numbers drawn from 80.

Progressive Jackpot Keno

In this variation, the jackpot increases over time and when more people play. Every bet adds to the jackpot until someone wins it. You must match all the numbers to win the jackpot.

The different Keno bets

Along with the online Keno game variations, Keno has different types of bets. These include:

  • Straight bets.
  • Split bets.
  • King ticket.
  • Way bets.
  • Combination ticket.

Straight bets

These are the most common and easiest of the different Keno bets. You pick up to 20 numbers and are paid for the number of spots that match.

For example, on a one-spot card, you must hit that number to win 3x the bet. If you hit both numbers on a two-spot card, you are paid 12x the bet. As the number of spots you pick increases, you don’t need to hit every number. If you hit two numbers on a three spot, the win equals your bet, but if you hit all three numbers, you win 42x your bet.

Split bets

A split lets you play two games of Keno on the same card. You choose two groups of numbers, and each group is played as if they were on separate cards. The two groups can not have the same numbers or be played together. Thus, if you were to hit two numbers in the first group and two numbers in the second group, it can not be played as hitting 4 numbers.

King ticket

This type of bet is a variation of the split bet, but players choose a single number, the King, that must appear in each group of numbers on a split bet ticket.

Way bets

A ‘way’ card has two or more sets of numbers as a single bet. Each set is called a way.

For example, you might bet three numbers as a three-spot bet. Then, you may choose five different numbers as a five-spot bet on the same card. Thus, you have two ways to win on the same card. The difference between a way bet and a split ticket is that you can combine both sets of numbers for an eight-spot bet. Doing that would give you three ways to win on the same card.

On a way bet, you wager separately for each way. For example, a game with $1 straight bets might have 25-cent bets per way.  In the example above, each of the ways, the three-, five-, and combined eight-spot bets would be a 25-cent bet. Thus, your card would be a 75-cent wager.

Combination ticket

This bet allows you to play a straight bet and way bets on the same ticket.

Start playing online Keno in North Carolina

Online Keno is easy and fun to play; now you have all you need to know how to play. Find a sweepstakes or social casino, begin with the basic Keno game, and get started. Once you get a hang of how the game works, you can try the many variations. Good luck!

How to play Keno online in North Carolina FAQs

Can I play online Keno in North Carolina?

Yes. While real money online casinos are illegal in North Carolina, sweepstakes or social casinos are legal in the Tar Heel state.

How do you play keno and win?

You play Keno by picking numbers on a card. The standard card has 80 numbers, 1-80. In the standard Keno game, you choose between one and 20 numbers. The more numbers you match in Keno, and how many numbers you choose determines how much you win.

What are the odds of winning keno?

The overall casino advantage in the standard game is typically between 30% and 35%. However, some online Keno games have a casino advantage of only 5%.

The specific odds in an 80-number game with 20 spots are a 1-in-4 chance of one number being drawn, a 1-in-17 of matching two numbers, a 1-in-73 for hitting three numbers, etc.

Below is a chart with all of the odds:

HitsProbability
01 in 843.380 (0.11857057%)
11 in 86.446 (1.15678605%)
21 in 20.115 (4.97142576%)
31 in 8.009 (12.48637168%)
41 in 4.877 (20.50318987%)
51 in 4.287 (23.32807380%)
61 in 5.258 (19.01745147%)
71 in 8.826 (11.32954556%)
81 in 20.055 (4.98618021%)
91 in 61.420 (1.62814048%)
101 in 253.801 (0.39401000%)
111 in 1,423.822 (0.07023351%)
121 in 10,968.701 (0.00911685%)
131 in 118,084.920 (0.00084685%)
141 in 1,821,881.628 (0.00005489%)
151 in 41,751,453.986 (0.00000240%)
161 in 1,496,372,110.872 (0.00000007%)
171 in 90,624,035,964.712
181 in 10,512,388,171,906.553
191 in 2,946,096,785,176,811.500
201 in 3,535,316,142,212,173,800.000
What is the best betting strategy?

The best bets in Keno are between four and eight numbers. Each Keno game varies, but you can typically choose up to 20 numbers in the standard game.

Can you play keno online on your phone?

Yes, you can play online Keno in North Carolina via sweepstakes casinos on iOS and Android devices and tablets, as well as a computer.

About the Author

Walter Yuhl

Walter (Way) Yuhl is a freelance writer and business professor. Way has written for the Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff Business News, Bangkok University, and Shandong University of Science and Technology as well as edited content for the U.N., Thailand International airports, and other organizations. He has worked with Cantena Media since 2019.