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Whether it’s your first time playing keno or you’re a seasoned veteran, it’s important to understand what the return percentage means. Here’s how it works:

The Return Corresponds to the House Edge

Every game in a casino has a house edge or a house advantage, which is the amount of money that the casino gets, on average, from every bet. The return is how much money players will get back, on average.

If a casino’s keno paytable has a return of 95 percent, that means that players will win an average of 95 percent of what they bet. On a bet of $100, your average return would be $95. The house edge in this example is 5 percent, because that’s how much the casino is keeping on average.

Every casino game has some sort of house edge – hence the phrase “the house always wins.” Certain games, such as blackjack, have a house edge that could vary depending on the skill of the player. For these games, the house edge is calculated assuming optimal play, and can sometimes be under 1 percent. Keno is not one of those games, as it’s based entirely on luck. Keno paytables typically have a greater house edge than other casino games, ranging from under 4 percent to over 35 percent. A keno paytable with a 95-percent return is about average for a casino game, but one of the better returns for keno.

How Keno Works

Of course, no one would play casino games if they knew they’d get the designated return. People play for the possibility of winning big. Keno is a lottery-style game where players pick numbers, which are then drawn or generated at random by the casino. Players can choose between 1 and 20 numbers on keno tickets from most paytables.

You win the jackpot if you match all the numbers you chose, which means you would have to match 20 on a 20 spot ticket. The odds of this happening are extremely low – 1 in about 3.5 quintillion, in fact. However, you can also win money if you match 0, 1, 2, 3, or 7 through 19 numbers, and matching anything between 17 and 19 numbers still pays big. The odds of this aren’t bad – there’s about a 1 in 8 chance of matching 3 out of 20 numbers, and about a 1 in 9 chance of matching 7 out of 30 numbers. It’s less likely that you’ll get one of those big scores by matching between 17 and 19 numbers, as the odds of matching 17 out of 20 are about 1 in 91 billion.

Is a 95-Percent Return Keno Game Worth Your Money?

If you enjoy keno, a 95-percent return is close to the best you’ll be able to find. At best, you may find tables that are 1 or just over 1 percent better, but those are almost as rare as matching 20 numbers on your ticket. Generally speaking, any return over 90 percent is good for keno. It won’t be nearly as good a return as you’d get by playing perfect blackjack, but it also won’t be as mentally taxing.