The history of casino games is a long and fascinating story, a mix of myth and legend, established fact, and reasonable conjectures. It encompasses cultures and civilizations from around the globe, from Ancient Egypt to medieval Italy to the modern internet casino.
Make no mistake about it: gambling is not just a game; sometimes gambling can determine history. In the 11th century, for instance, a land dispute between Norway and Sweden was settled by the roll of the dice. Even earlier, gambling games (the predecessors of Keno) were established in China to bring money into the army’s coffers, and in the 1700s lotteries were established to bail out newly established British colonies. Later on (and even today), Americans used statewide lotteries to finance educational infrastructure.
History of Dice Games
Dice, as integral to gambling as a deck of cards, originated in the ancient game of bone rolling. Dice are possibly the oldest form of gambling, predating playing cards by hundreds of years. Originally a form of fortune telling in ancient Egypt, bone rolling slowly evolved into a gambling game. The original dice were made of bones and teeth of animals; dice in the shape we know today originate in Korea and were used in a Buddhist game called Promotion. Dice are used today in modern casino games such as craps and sic bo.
History of Card Games
Cards were also an early form of gambling. The earliest found playing card dates from the 11th century and comes from Chinese Turkestan. But the French are credited for having first introduced the type of playing cards we’re familiar with today including the recognizable suits: spades, clubs, diamonds and hearts. Other countries used different kinds of cards. India, for example, had round game tokens, and the Chinese, of course, had dominoes.
First there were cards and then there were card games. Baccarat originated in 15th-century Italy, and blackjack in 18th-century France. Poker was played in New Orleans in the early 19th century.
History of the Slot Machine
Not all gambling games are ancient, however, unless you consider the late 19th century to be prehistoric times. The first slot machine was invented around 1887 by Charles Fey in California and it changed the way people would gamble. Known as “fruit machines” in the UK, slot machines are now considered the quintessential casino game and in many casinos they take up 70 percent of the floor space.
History of Casino Gambling
Casino gambling began in Europe and the Italian word “casino” originally meant a small villa or summerhouse, usually built on the grounds of a larger Italian home or palace. During the 19th century, the term casino came to include public buildings where gambling and sports took place. In the U.S., where immigrants brought with them familiar gambling games, houses and halls in which to play became commonplace. During the early 1800s, gambling on riverboats became fashionable and beautiful floating casinos graced the waters of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
In big city centers such as New York and Chicago, gambling halls also attracted refined clientele; they were often frequented by members of the upper class who could afford to bet big and lose big. Gambling halls, a.k.a. casinos, became big business.
Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Monte Carlo were major casino gambling centers of the 20th century. Macao surpassed Las Vegas and became the world’s biggest casino gambling center in 2006. There are thriving casinos on many Indian reservations throughout the U.S., while Manchester is becoming a major casino gambling center of the U.K.
The Internet Casino Revolution
The casino gambling world was revolutionized by the advent of the online casino in the 1990s. For the first time, people could play real money casino games at any time and at any place that has an internet connection. Wild Jack Online Casino, founded in 1999, might seem like just a baby in the millennia-old history of casino games, but it is a respected elder statesman in the new high-tech world of Internet casino gambling.
Casino games have come a long way from the days of bone dice and wooden playing cards. Years ago, it would have seemed inconceivable that you could play online blackjack and other online casino games in your own home. Now, with new Internet casino games being invented every month, it appears certain that the best is yet to come.
For more information on casino games history, please visit:
Blackjack Hall of Fame
Casino War History
Pai Gow Poker History
Scratch Card History
Sic Bo History
Slot Machines History
Three-Card Poker History
Video Poker History