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Gaming then and now

Anthropologists and archaeologists have discovered ample evidence that shows that, during all eras, in all civilizations, people played games. Many of the games that were played thousands of years ago are the basis for popular games of today.

The game of keno, for instance, is based on an ancient Chinese lottery game which was sponsored by the Chinese government and promoted to raise money to build the Great Wall of China.

In all areas of the world, people gamble as a way to make the games more exciting and, of course, to win payouts. Join the exploration into the history of gambling -- its origins, cultural significance, and the impact it has had on societies and today’s slots casino real money casino gaming.

Early Gambling

Gambling can be traced back to ancient civilizations. Anthropologists have found indications that people played games with sticks and stones during pre-historic times but whether or not they actually gambled on those games is in question.

However, remnants of tiles, dice games and animal fights and the betting that occurred on those games can be found in archaeological excavations of China’s Xia dynasty which dates back almost 4000 years.

There is also ample evidence that the ancient Greeks and Romans gambled including “sports betting” on the Olympic Games of ancient Greece and the gladiator fights in Rome.

During the Medieval and Renaissance era gaming practices adapted and grew in popularity. Games of chance were widespread across Europe where kings and their royal courts used these diversions to relax, socialize and, sometimes, even conduct business.

Card games, which were invented in China about 1000 years ago, migrated to the Middle East and, by the 14th century, to Europe where Europeans played with suits of goblets, gold coins, swords and batons. (In Italy and Spain, these suits are still common).

Slowly, starting in Germany, the suits evolved to those the clubs, spades, diamonds and hearts that we know today. Baccarat also dates back to the 14th century when an Italian, Feliz Falguiere brought the game of “baccarat/zero” to the attention of the public.

Many of today’s casino games trace their histories to the Renaissance era.

Blackjack was known as “vingt-et-un/21” in 17th century France where it is believed to have originated while poker evolved from the French parlor game of “poque”.

The French are also credited with roulette which they developed based on the perpetual motion machine that was invented by Blaise Pascal in the 17th century.

Christian Europe was of two minds about these games of chance. On the one hand, they were popular, even among Church officials. On the other hand, they were seen as promoting immoral behavior and were frowned upon.

In the end, as with most such issues, those who had money and power did as they wished while the masses were taught that gaming activities were to be frowned upon as immoral.

This meant that gambling practices had to adapt to a middle ground even as lotteries were promoted to the general population as a way of raising money for public projects.


By the 1600s the idea of creating venues for gaming had begun to take form. The first Gambling Room was the Ridotto which opened in Venice, Italy in 1638.

The Ridotto was an exclusive venue where royalty and members of high society gathered to engage in various gambling activities while they socialized with others of their standing and classes. In the late 1700s new casinos – the word “casino” derives from the Italian word casa, meaning “house” started to open on the French Riviera.

Those casinos too were limited to the wealthy and high-born but the casinos’ well-placed clientele were probably to thank for helping the casinos evade prohibition and legalization restrictions that were beginning to plague American gaming venues.

In the 1930s the American state of Nevada decided to actively pursue the gaming industry. They passed laws that allowed casino developers to set up shop in Las Vegas, Reno and other Nevada cities and offered incentives to make that happen.

That vision has made Nevada the casino mecca of today’s world with dozens of high-end and casual casinos attracting tens of thousands of visitors annually.

21st Century

In the 1990s the general population was starting to use the Internet. That led to the proliferation of online casinos – sites where players could access any of their preferred casino games and play online.

The online casino was able to offer both high-stakes and low stakes games, lucrative real money bonuses and other amenities that weren’t available in brick-and-mortar casinos. Even Vegas enthusiasts loved playing online, in between their trips to Vegas’s resort casinos.

Suddenly, gamers could play whenever they wanted and from wherever they wanted on their personal hand-held mobile devices or on their home desktop or laptop. The evolving technology of the online casino combines with its convenience and accessibility to make it the gambling center of the future.

In the coming years, casino observers expect the online casino to evolve even further with VR and AI games, skill-based games and an increased emphasis on social gaming entertainment. Casinos have come a long way over the last 300 years but they still have a long way to go!


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