The Differences Between Keno and Bingo

For those familiar with Keno and Bingo, it is easy to notice their similarities. Both involve numbers and a machine to draw the winning numbers.

They have their differences as well. Overall, it only requires a little brain power to enjoy them. Let’s discover both their similarities and differences.

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Highlights of the Article

  • The Chinese invented Keno, while the Italians popularized Bingo.
  • A machine randomly draws 20 numbers in a single game of Keno, while it can take up to 43 draws in Bingo for a player to win.
  • You have to place bets on your chosen numbers in Keno, and you can also group your numbers into sets and then make your bets.
  • Bingo has a sit-and-wait concept where you wait for the machine to draw your numbers randomly.
  • It’s next to impossible for the machine to draw all your 20 numbers in Keno.
  • Both Bingo and Keno winners can have multiple winners.
  • The jackpot in Keno is winning 15 or 17 numbers out of 20.
  • For a high-risk and fast-paced game, go for Keno. Bingo is suited for a more relaxed experience.

Critical Differences Between Keno and Bingo

keno vs bingo

These two games differ in their origins, how people play them, their popularity, and the odds of winning. 

Origins and Popularity

Keno is much older than Bingo, with origins dating back 3000 years ago in Ancient China. The then-ruler of the Han Dynasty invented it to raise funds for war efforts so that he wouldn’t have to increase taxes on his people. 

Its original Cantonese name is baige paio or the “white pigeon ticket” because the Chinese flew the winning numbers across the country using white birds. Chinese immigrants working on the transcontinental railway system brought Keno to America in the 1860s. 

Keno is famous worldwide because of how simply you can play it. For a nominal fee, people can play, and it offers them the opportunity to win more than what they have bet.

Bingo, on the other, is relatively new. When the Italians invented it, it was called “Beano” because of the dried beans they used to mark the numbers.

The Bingo national lottery continues today, and Italians draw it every Sunday.

Nowadays, it’s more prevalent in Britain than tennis (the nation’s favorite sport). The country reportedly has 1.9 million bingo players monthly, compared to the 1.7 million playing tennis.

How Is It Played?

Keno and Bingo feature winning numbers, but Keno allows players to choose their numbers. In Bingo, the advantage is in the number of cards you buy, but the numbers are pre-determined.

A machine calls out numbers in both games, but the bets you place on your numbers determine your win in Keno. In Bingo, you have to wait until your numbers are called. 

While both games require different approaches to predicting odds, several similar concepts exist on how you learn to play the game.

Let’s discuss the mechanics.

How numbers/balls are drawn

In a standard Keno game, twenty numbers are randomly called out. People use a ball machine similar to the ones used for lotteries and Bingo or a random number generator.

When a number you have on your ticket is drawn, that’s called a match or catch. That’s a “catch-all” when you are fortunate enough to have all your numbers drawn. But if none of your numbers were drawn, this is called a catch zero.

Keno has many terms to learn about, especially if you want to understand your odds of winning.

In Bingo, a machine randomly draws and displays the winning numbers sequentially. This way, the participating players can instantly see the draw results.  

Ways You Place and Win The Bet

The main difference is that you cannot pick the numbers you want in Bingo. Some online sites allow you to change your cards, but the numbers are pre-inputted in those cards.

In Keno, you can choose up to twenty numbers from the standard eighty numbers in an average Keno card.

You then place bets on between the one and twenty numbers you have. 

There are two common types of bets. The first is a straight bet, where you must place a minimum amount of money during each round after selecting your numbers. 

The second type is by way of bets. You choose sets of numbers from the twenty chosen and place bets on those. There is a chance of winning here, even if the numbers in the selected set are called out and not among the initially-chosen twenty.

There are variations; some will let you choose up to ten numbers, while other versions go up to fifteen. It depends on the casino or the type of keno game it is.

As a Keno player, you can do the following:

  • Place different bets on your numbers
  • Vary the amounts between different numbers
  • Divide the chosen numbers into sets 

In Bingo, there is no concept of placing bets. You pay a standard fee for your cards with random numbers. You must wait for the machine to call random numbers and hope they match those in your cards. 

Odds and Probability

The probabilities of winning in both games and the number of calls are interesting, especially if you want to know precisely how to win.  

Number of Calls

Similar to the odds of winning in blackjack, Keno odds can differ. You win when your numbers match those that are called. Smaller prizes are available when fewer of your numbers match what was drawn. Odds vary depending on which casino you’re playing at.

Typically, 15 of your numbers matched are enough for a jackpot.

You should expect 42 to 43 numbers to be called in Bingo before someone shouts BINGO! 

Odds of Winning in Keno vs. Bingo

The winning probabilities are very different in these two games:

Keno Odds 

In Keno, having all your twenty numbers match those called is next to impossible. The odds are close to 1 in 3.5 quintillions. It is why Keno games don’t require you to hit 20 on 20 to win some money. 

The following are the odds for how many numbers you’ve chosen in a single game. 

  • One Number Draw

Keno odds are easy to calculate, especially for smaller numbers. Some casinos even allow you to select just one number out of all eighty. If you’re in one of those casinos, your odds of choosing a single number and it being among the winning twenty is just one in four!

  • Two and Three Numbers

Your odds are 1 in 17 that you’ll match both numbers. For all three numbers to match, your odds are 1 in 73 and 1 in 8 for at least two digits. 

  • Four Numbers

Now your odds are slimmer. You have 1 in 327 chances that the machine will randomly draw all four numbers. But then it goes up to 1 in 24 for three out of four digits and 1 in 5 for the two the machine will draw. 

  • Five Numbers

Now your chances get even slimmer. For all five numbers to match, your probability is 1 in 1,551. It’s 1 in 83 for four and for three numbers, 1 in 12. 

  • Six and Seven Ten Numbers

For all six numbers to match, your odds are 1 in 7,753. For seven out of seven, it’s 1 in 40,980 (ouch!).

You can learn other Keno numbers picked and the odds that some will match to really up your game!

Bingo Odds

In Bingo, we can base the odds of winning on two essential factors: the number of cards you have and the number of balls drawn. 

Statistically, each number has an equal chance of being drawn. As such, every card has an equal chance of winning.


If you like a game with a faster pace, Keno is your game. The game becomes more exciting because you can choose your numbers. You don’t have to wait for others to tick off their numbers or for someone to call them out.

On the other hand, if you’re more laid-back, Bingo might be the game for you. You won’t have to choose any numbers and place bets. You only have to wait for the numbers to be called out and hope they match a lot on your cards.  

Payout and Control

Keno can have multiple winners since people choose their numbers, which can be the same as others. On the other hand, not getting any of the 20 numbers is a famous prize. Many casinos offer the jackpot if you hit 17 out of 20 numbers. 

What’s surprising for those unfamiliar with this game is that it’s not uncommon for someone to win millions in one round by hitting the jackpot. Also, payouts can vary per casino, so knowing your chosen casino’s payout measures would be helpful.

A Bingo win is limited to the first person to cross out the numbers on their cards. But there are instances of multiple winners here, as well. You can get a prize if the machine calls numbers from any of the following in your card/s:

  • A whole top line
  • A center line
  • The bottom line
  • Corners
  • All numbers or a “full house.”

The payout can get high in games where the initial purchase of the card is high or when a game has many players. But the chances of hitting an enormous payout in Bingo are slim. 

Similarities Between Keno and Bingo

Both Keno and Bingo use machines to draw up numbers randomly. You must match these numbers on your cards to win, making both lottery-type games. 

Neither has too-complex rules to memorize, making them fun and simple to play.  

Bingo vs. Keno: Which One Is Right For You?

It depends on your choice since both have a quick and simple learning curve. The riskier you want to play, the more you’ll go with Keno. For relaxed playing, you can go with Bingo.

With accessible rules, anyone can play both. It’s a matter of personal preference. But remember, you don’t have to have any gambling skills at all.

Final Words

These two games are similar at the basic level, but upon closer look, they have exciting differences. The games’ aims, how numbers are acquired, strategies, and the payout may differ.

However, they don’t make playing any of the two less fun. Both are enjoyable since they are essentially games of chance. Combining fun with the thrill of uncertainty, you can certainly have a good time!