Casino History – Where Did It All Begin?

casino history

If you like playing online casino games, then you’ll already be familiar with the fun, excitement and entertainment that they provide in the comfort of your own home. But where did such entertainment come from? And how did casino games evolve into the convenient form we can enjoy today?

You can’t argue with the ancients

Believe it or not, evidence of gambling games has shown up in archeological finds from the most ancient of sources – cave paintings! China, Rome, Egypt – each of these ancient cultures had some form of gambling game that involved playing for a stake. The Ancient Roman’s celebrated gambling during the Saturnalia feast, and there is a vase in the Vatican dating from around 530BC that depicts Achilles and Ajax head to head, not in battle, but at a board game.

Throwing a double six in many games today would be considered lucky, but did you know that this dates back to Ancient Greece, when the combination was known as ‘the throw of Aphrodite’? And don’t go thinking that all of these games are so ancient they have now completely disappeared – Keno originated in China 2000 years ago, and has changed very little in that time.

Popularity across the ages

The popularity of casino games spread across the globe, especially as travel became easier and more affordable, and as they found new locations and audiences, the games were adapted to suit the local players, creating lots of game variants and special rules – as well as new and more generous payouts.

As far as we know, there has never been a culture that has not enjoyed gambling games of some sort. Napoleon was a huge fan of the original Blackjack game, ‘Vingt-et-un’, while World War II soldiers adopted Craps as their game of choice in the trenches, and as we discussed in an earlier post, Nixon actually paid for a presidential campaign using funds from his poker wins.

The first ever casino

Despite the constant popularity of gambling games, there was no formal casino building until the 1600s, when officials in Venice tired of the illegal gambling that went on during festival time and decided regulation was the answer. It was closed in 1770, but by that time, the concept had already caught on – especially in America.

The U.S. played an integral part in the growth of casinos, with major cities such as New Orleans, St Louis and Chicago at the forefront of casino games provision, innovation and development. As casinos developed, they tailored their floors to suit their clientele, with whole areas designated to Slots and Video Poker, with a separate area for table games such as Roulette, Baccarat, and Craps.

Players were rewarded with comps such as free food and drink as they played – and free suites and ‘gifts’ as costly as a car for high rollers and whales. But the logistics of a bricks and mortar casino meant that people couldn’t always access the game they wanted to play because the casino didn’t provide that version, or the tables were full, or the geographical location made it difficult for people to get there in the first place.

It all moves online…

When the internet was created, it provided all sorts of new opportunities. When it became a standard household feature, the opportunity for online casinos sprung up, and a new era of casino games evolved. Players could now access their favourite games from the convenience of their own home, without any travel time or expenses and games became available around the clock, with all variations available.

There was no longer any need for free food and drinks, but online casinos offered alternative rewards such as Welcome bonuses and Reload bonuses, designed to enhance the overall online casino experience. Lately, things have improved even further as casinos have gone mobile, with a range of games now available on mobile devices – including iPads, iPhones, tablets and androids – and each boasting state of the art functionality and design.

We’ve come a long way – but it feels in many ways like this is just the beginning. What would you like to see from casino games in the future?

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