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The Fascinating History of Casino Games

Entertainment, Gambling

Traditional Roulette game

Source: Pixabay

History and evolution are amazing things. Everything we do, eat, and play comes from somewhere, and sometimes, these origins may surprise you. It’s rather fascinating to think that the state-of-the-art casino games we now play on desktop and mobile are the descendants of titles that date back centuries.

While the details may be vastly different, and in some cases even the names entirely new, it turns out that people have always loved playing games of chance. No matter how far back in time you go!

Join us on a journey back in time as we take a closer look at where your favourite games came from.

Proof of Gambling in Ancient China

The first uncontested evidence of real money gambling was uncovered in what was once Ancient China. Tiles that were probably used for rudimentary games of risk were mentioned in The Book of Songs, a collection of folk poems collected from Chinese fields and alleys over many years. In the book, readers have found references to drawing wood, suggesting that these tiles were used as part of a kind of Lottery.

Rolling the Bones in Ancient Italy

One of the Ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived through to the present day is Sophocles. He claims that dice, used in casino games, were invented during the siege of Troy by a hero of myth. However dubious this claim may be, it in his writings, from around 500 BC that we see dice first mentioned in this part of the world.

Unfortunately for Sophocles, a pair of dice have been found inside an Egyptian tomb from 3000BC!

While the Ancient Greeks and Romans adored gambling in many forms, including that involving the dice, they certainly did not invent it. The Italians forbade it, with severe penalties imposed on anyone caught in the act.

This is partly how the chips we use in casino games in the modern day came about. If players were arrested for illicit gambling, they could show guards that no real money was involved in the game.

The Chinese Create Playing Cards

Evidence suggests that the first-ever playing cards popped up in the Far East in the 9th century. Although there is no longer any record of exactly what they were used to play.

Research reveals that, later on, during the Ming Dynasty which extended from 1368 to 1644, characters from popular novels often featured on the faces of the cards. These gaming tools had spread across Asia by the 11th century.

Baccarat’s European Roots

One of the oldest casino games still being played today is Baccarat. It was first mentioned in Italy and France in the 1400s. But it was probably very different from the title as we now know it.

The current variation made its way from the Caribbean through to the United Kingdom before arriving in the United States of America. And there were more than a few alterations made to the rules at each stop.

Blackjack by Any Other Name

Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, wrote a short story in 1601 that mentions a game called Ventiuna, or 21. But a very similar casino game, albeit called Trente-Un, 31, instead of 21, pops up in the late 1500s, along with Quinze, or 15, that surfaced even earlier.

While it is unclear when and where 21 first came to be, it is undoubtedly directly related to a game known as Vingt-et-Un, 20 and 1, in France in the 1600s.

A version of this arrived in the USA eventually in the 1700s, with the first French settlers, and that is how it got the name it’s now known by.

Casino operators in the early 1900s ran a promotion to advertise the game which offered players 10:1 odds if the first hand dealt to the participant was an Ace of Spades along with a Black Jack, either of Clubs or Spades. While the special offer eventually ran its course, the name stuck. That is what we still call this casino game Blackjack 100 years on.

Cards and casino chips

Source: Pixabay

Italy Debuts the Casino

In 1638, the Casino di Venezia opened its doors to welcome aristocrats into an opulent brick-and-mortar setting located on Venice’s Grand Canal. Called Ridotto, there were four floors for the most elite section of society to roam around in, and the most popular games were apparently Biribi and Basetta.

Biribi can be described as a Lottery-type title in which players wager on one of 70 possible outcomes. Basetta was a kind of cross between Blackjack, Gin Rummy, and Poker.

You can still visit this historically important venue today. While there are currently only three floors available, there are heaps of different Baccarat, Poker, Roulette, slots, and Video Poker casino games to choose from, although nowhere near what you’ll find online…

Pascal Accidentally Creates Roulette

The world has a certain Monsieur Blaise Pascal to thank for the many different versions of Roulette now available. It is believed that he stumbled upon what would become the Little Wheel, which eventually lent its name to the game, as he was trying to invent a perpetual motion machine.

The game in its present form can be traced back as far back as Paris 1796. A failed invention for some, but a real winner for the casino world.

Poker Ups the Ante

The exact origin of Poker is murky, with some historians claiming it to be a descendant of a Persian card game from the 1700s. Others reference its more obvious link to a French card game called Poque from around the same time.

What can be said for sure is that Joseph Crowell, an English actor, witnessed this casino game being played in New Orleans in 1829.

Its current popularity can be put down to televised tournaments becoming a possibility in the 1970s, with viewers being able to see what cards players were holding while their opponents could not.

And when Chris Moneymaker, an amateur player, took the 2003 World Poker Championship title after qualifying for it online, the game a top choice for people of a range of different levels of experience and skill.

One-Armed Bandits in NYC

The first-ever slots that resemble the games as we know them now were invented by Charles Fey. Fey was an auto mechanic and inventor born in Bavaria who eventually made his way over the USA. He built the Liberty Bell, the first coin-operated machine in 1894, paving the way for the first video slot invented in 1976 by the Fortune Coin Co. in Las Vegas.

The World Goes Online

Microgaming is one of the biggest and most respected game developers in the iGaming industry today. They were also one of the first companies to make their way into what has become the booming world of online gambling.

The emergence of online casinos can be dated to 1994 and they were a huge hit almost instantly, with the market valued at well over CA$1 billion in less than five years.

The first casino games to feature live dealers debuted in 2003, courtesy of Playtech. They allow players to interact with professionally trained, friendly, knowledgeable croupiers in real time whilst still partaking in the action via the internet!

Mobile Access and So Much More

The iGaming industry is one of the fastest when it comes to adapting to change. It responds to trends very early on in their cycle and delivers new concepts to players very quickly by definition of how online casinos operate.

Virtual Reality technology is a prime example of this. While not yet widely available, the beginnings of VR have started emerging in certain casino games at particular sites. These VR games herald good things for what the industry could look like in the very near future.

VR Poker, for example, is already available. It works at recreating the land-based experience from home in a totally different way to how standard online gameplay does, or even the live dealer format can. Players can interact with other patrons around them, as well as the dealer and the actual casino environment itself.

Augmented Reality technology is another exciting trend wherein players will use actual sensory inputs that enhance their involvement in the casino games they enjoy. With specially equipped eyewear, sound, and virtual imagery, the gameplay experience could include almost anything. From hearing the dealers calling the winning numbers at the Roulette table to seeing someone tripping over their feet after having too much to drink, it’s all, well, a reality!

The technology is being created to transport players into another environment even though they are still safely at home.

Player Protection a Priority

Another recent innovation in the iGaming industry is the commitment by many leading brands to responsible gaming. A broad concept comprising several policies and requirements that emphasises high standards of quality as well as a safe user experience.

At sites like Spin Casino that are committed to this idea, players clicking on the link will find information on what the operator does to ensure no underage gambling takes place and can find a range of tools to help them gamble responsibly.

This means that playing online is safer and more enjoyable, all while offering access to cutting-edge casino games that have come long way from their humble origins.

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