There is a lot that has happened in our industry over the years but how did it all begin? Find out more in this article.
A Lot Longer Than You Might Think
Gambling has been around for a long time. Perhaps not in the way we see it today obviously but the actual act has been around a lot longer than you might think.
How do we know just how far back in time you’d have to travel to witness the beginning of gambling? Well, it’s hard to know exactly when of course but according to the information that is out there, you may have to go all the way back to 3000 B.C. which is pretty insane.
It would be highly interesting to see how the people from that era would react if you could explain how gambling works today and how all of it is available on a phone, small enough to fit in your pocket.
I’ve done some research and will try to give you an outline of the various steps gambling has taken and the evidence left behind that has led us to believe that gambling has taken place.
3000 B.C. – Tomb Dice Anyone?
Did the people of ancient Egypt use actual dice when gambling? A pair of dice was interestingly enough discovered in an Egyptian tomb, as old as 5,000 years ago.
2300 B.C. – The Earliest Evidence of Gambling
A lot of the discoveries of gambling go back to the early days of China. As a matter of fact, there is concrete evidence of small wooden tiles with drawings, suggesting some sort of a lottery.
Greek philosopher Sophocles
500 B.C. – Greek Philosophy and Rolling the Dice on the Streets of Rome
According to the Greek philosopher Sophocles, dice were invented by a mythological hero during the battle of Troy. In Sophocles’ writing is where the first mention of dice appears in Greek history. Sophacles also believed that the dead control and affect our life so since, so who knows what to believe?
Romans also shared the Greeks’ love for the dice and even though it was illegal within the city of Rome, gambling definitely took place. There was even a penalty for those getting caught. The fine itself was 4x as much as your bet. I wonder how they settled for that specific number.
In order to trick the authorities, the people came up with the first gambling chips. Whenever someone got caught, they simply said they were just playing with chips and not actual money. Smart move!
800 A.D. – The First Playing Cards
You would think actual playing cards were introduced quite early but you had to wait until around 800 A.D. before the first ones showed up in China. The cards obviously didn’t look like the ones we have today, it’s still a major step in gambling.
Baccarat was first played in Italy but also made its way to France in the 1400’s. It has taken the game hundreds of years to develop into the Baccarat of today but I can only imagine the long nightly games being held in secrecy all across Paris.
Much thanks to James Bond, the game got an additional boost through Casino Royale.
1600’s – Ventinuna Becomes Blackjack
One of the most popular table games is Blackjack and I am personally a big fan. The game is referenced in the legendary Spanish story about Don Quixote in 1601. Known in Spain as Ventiuna (meaning 21), this may have been one of a few games that can claim to be the origin to what is now known as Blackjack.
There was also a French game called vingt-et-un and French settlers were the ones who brought the game across the Atlantic and into the US.
The name Blackjack comes from a special promotion by Nevada casinos in the 1930’s. If you scored 21 with a Jack of Clubs or Spades in combination with an Ace of Spades. Not only would you get paid 10 to 1, the name also stuck.
1638 – The first Casinos in Venice, Italy
17th Century Italy was where the earliest casinos or gambling houses appeared. The people of Venice could enjoy the action at the Ridotto.
Even though Italy had casinos this early, it was until the 1800’s that they started to pop up all across Europe.
The US even saw gambling houses set on steam boats going up and down the Mississippi River. These boats were filled with both farmers and traders, looking to make some extra money. This was a far cry from the Las Vegas casinos of today but it does sound like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?
A two green zero wheel was the original setup for Roulette in 1796 Paris. As you know, this is the game that made it to America and is funny enough referred to as American Roulette.
It wasn’t until 50 years later that another version came out, known as European Roulette. The difference being only one green zero field. The game became more popular than ever and it hasn’t lost a beat. Personally I don’t really have a preference when it comes to the green zeros. Do you?
Poker has been tricky to narrow down but many sources say it comes from 17th century Persia. Others swear it was inspired by a French card game, known as poque. I would say with a name like that it would make sense.
Much of the credit for today’s game does go to a man called Joseph Crowell, an English actor. Mr Crowell talked about poker being played in 1829 down in New Orleans.
Regardless of its origin, poker didn’t grow in popularity until World Poker Tournaments started being held in the 1970’s Las Vegas. We all know what happened when it opened up online and you could even follow the best of the best on TV – the world went crazy!
Liberty Bell was first on the scene
1891 – The Birth of the Slot Machine
The Liberty Bell slot machine is the one who gets credit for being the first one to hit “the market”. Invented by Charles Fey in San Francisco, there are plenty of players that still enjoy the fruit machine style slots. I’m not one of them but considering there are still new ones being released, they are still very popular.
Instead of money, in the early days winners would get cigarettes or chewing gum. That wouldn’t fly today as cash is the only thing players want.
1976 – Video Slots
Video slots started to appear in California back in 1976 and paved the way for the high end graphics we can enjoy in today’s games. The video slots have changed the industry and is also the reason why slots appeal to a much bigger audience than the fruit machines ever could.
Microgaming was the one developing the world’s first online casino software in 1994, although the first online casino didn’t open until a year or so later. The casino.co.za casino was only for South African players, believe it or not.
If you wanted to play with real money, you had to call the casino to get an account number and password, then make your deposit via credit card over the phone. Fantastic right? Love it!
Within 5 years, online gaming was worth more than one billion dollars and I don’t need to tell you that it is worth so much more than that today. In fact, the industry was worth as much as 57.54 billion dollars in 2021.
With thousands and thousands of casinos operating today, I wonder where we are going next. What will be the next big thing? Crypto play has already made a massive impact so let’s wait and see. Are you as curious as I am?