Grand National Keno

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Often referred to as the “World’s Greatest Jump Race,” England’s annual Grand National Steeplechase involves 16 fences and covers two and a quarter miles—one of the longest distances in closed-circuit horse racing. It is a true test of both horses and jockeys, extending for two full laps around the Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool. Its illustrious history dates back over 170 years.

Today, the Grand National is not only the highlight of the racing season but also one of the biggest social events in the British calendar. Tickets and grandstand badges go on general sale early in the year, and sell-outs are quite common. It should come as no surprise, then, that software specialist OpenBet chose this monumental event as the theme for one its popular online casino games—Grand National Keno—which can be found on Bet365 and other major gaming web sites.

Even as the software is loading, the excitement of race day is announced by an audible whinny from the computer speakers. Then, the game screen appears, featuring the Keno Board in place of the Tote and flanked on the right by the finish post, with the grassy track and its whitewashed inner rail immediately below. To the left of the Board appears a horse’s face, his eyes blinking, a hat upon his head and cigar protruding from his clenched teeth.

But study this horse a bit more closely. Not only does he blink but he also moves his eyes, following the motion of the player’s mouse-controlled pointer as it moves around the screen. The eyes can be made to dart left and right, rotate in circles or fixate on the pointer. It’s all good fun and a novel distraction, which thankfully has no bearing on the outcome of the game.

Nestled within the outer rail of the track at the bottom of the screen are the game’s controls. At the lower left, there are +/- toggles for setting the amount to be staked, from a minimum of €0.25 to an upper limit of €10.00 with plenty of selections in between. To the right of the Stake indicator are controls marked “Clear,” Random” and “Play.”

Once the wagering amount has been selected, the player may select from one to eight of the 40 Keno numbers that appear in five rows across eight columns on the Keno Board. Clicking a number will “flip” it around so that white numbers show on a black background and it becomes a selection for the race. Clicking the same number a second time will deselect it. It is also possible to deselect al numbers by clicking on the “Clear” button at the bottom.

As numbers are selected, various “announcements” appear in the marquee above the Keno Board. Some of these pertain directly to the game, such as “Pick up to 8 Numbers,” “Press Play when Ready” or “You’ve Already Picked 8” if the maximum number of selections is exceeded. Other announcements are simply for fun, such as “They’re Under Starters Orders” or “The Going Is Good to Muddy.”

One announcement suggests “Click Random to Pick 8.” If the player clicks on the “Random” button, the computer will automatically select eight random numbers from the 40 available, canceling out any previously chosen selections and replacing them with its own. The player may then deselect any undesired numbers by clicking on them.

Clicking on “Play” will start the race. The action is so fast, it seems to fly by in an instant as images of numbered horses gallop from left to right between the rails, the horse reports in meaningless gibber, names o winners flash up on the marquee and winning numbers light up on the Board one by one—red for misses and green for hits.

The odds paid for catching winning numbers out of the eight horse to finish are displayed on the right side of the Keno Board, from 1-to-4 for a single correct number and Evens for two up to 2X for three, 3X for four, 20X for five and so on to a maximum 10000X for catching all eight.

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