Keno originated in ancient China in the Han Dynasty between 205 and 187 B.C. Chinese immigrants brought the game to America in the 19th century.
The word “keno” has French or Latin roots (Fr. quine five winning numbers, L. quini five each), but by all accounts the game originated in China over 2000 years ago. Legend has it that the invention of the game saved an ancient city in time of war, and its widespread popularity helped raise funds to build the Great Wall. According to one source, results of keno games in great cities were sent to outlying villages and hamlets by carrier pigeon. Eventually, Chinese immigrants introduced keno to the West when they sailed across the Pacific to help build the American trans-continental railroad in the 19th century.
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