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200 B.C. - China

Keno originated about 200 years B.C. in China out of an ancient poem known as "The Thousand Character Classic ". Rather than numbers 1 through 80, the first eighty characters of "The Thousand Character Classic" were used in the body of the keno ticket.

The "Thousand Character Classic" was used in China as the second primer for teaching reading and writing to children. By putting one thousand characters into a more or less coherent rhymed form, learning was presumably made easier and more interesting. It is something of a very great achievement in that no character is repeated. This poem was so well known in China that its one thousand characters, arranged in order, were often used as a fanciful way of notation or counting from one to a thousand.

There are many legendary stories about the origin of the poem. One story relates that the celebrated penman Wang Hi-Che wrote the thousand characters on a thousand separate pieces of paper. The Emperor Liang Wu Ti then directed Chou Hsing-Szu to arrange them in rhymed sentences to convey a meaning. This task was accomplished in a single night, but such was the mental effort that the compilers hair and beard were turned completely white before morning.

1940s - America
According to an ancient scroll, Cheung Leung introduced the game we now call Keno about 200 B.C. in China. Cheung's city was at war for several years and supplies for his army were failing. The people of his city refused to contribute any more to the war fund, so Cheung created a game of chance to produce revenue to provision his army. The game was an instant success and the city was saved.

1960 - Great Britain
Spreading throughout China, the game was used to help fund the building of the Great Wall. The game became known as the White Pigeon Game because carrier pigeons were used to send the results (winning numbers) from the games in the larger cities to small villages and hamlets.

Today - The World
Remaining basically the same, the game was brought to the United States by Chinese immigrants who labored on the railroad in the Old West.





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