• Monday, December 11, 2023


A History of Casinos

By: Eastern Eye Staff

Many people have visited a casino, whether that is local to their home or whether they have made the intrepid journey to the famous casino strip at Las Vegas. One thing you may never have considered is where casinos actually came from and how they were developed. The history of the casino is actually a lot older than you might reasonably expect. People have been gaming for many thousands of years and an example of betting on sport for fun is the gladiators. So gambling is an ancient industry indeed, but just where did the casino as we now know it has its roots?

Casinos and Gambling

To be fair gambling is much older than casinos. Since 2300 BC people have been gambling in China since 15,000 BC games of dice were played in Egypt. However, there were no actual casino buildings; it just took place wherever they happened to be in the street or people’s homes. It was a way of passing the time and remained popular as clearly gambling did develop into what we know it to be today. Designated gambling locations much more recent in history and the first such building was in 1638 in the water-locked city of Venice. Every year a carnival would take place, and the combination of high spirits and alcohol would cause problems in much the same way as it does today. So, the authorities decided that if they opened a designated building for gambling and gameplay, it may remove some of the problems from the streets and leave the innocent people out of it. This building is still standing, and you can actually visit, although it wasn’t even called a casino, buildings of this nature were then established in many other countries in Europe.

The Oldest Casino Game

The oldest casino game is probably roulette; there were no venues, but it was a very popular game favoured by King Charles the third of Monaco. However, when it was played, he felt that the win rate was not in his favour in the way he would have liked. So, he decided to take the traditional roulette wheel and add a zero as this would skew the odds into the favour of the house although at this point roulette was still played in buildings like the Castle rather than a casino. Such is the popularity of roulette that it has gone from strength to strength and remains a staple feature of every bricks and mortar and online casino in the world. There are plenty of versions of the game, including what we know to be the American wheel where the odds were considered still too high, so a second zero was added. The version created by King Charles has become known as the European wheel. However, you are unlikely to find a venue that does not offer at least one version of roulette on its table game list.

So, Casinos?

So, back to casinos – as we know, Las Vegas is now considered the gambling capital of the world, but it’s only really been a location since 1905. Like many things, it was actually born out of boredom when railroad workers who had the job of bringing a line from the Pacific coastline to Las Vegas wanted something to do in the long evenings. They had travelled from far away, so going home wasn’t an option, and basically, they were bored. It was quite a good idea initially, but it wasn’t long before trouble broke out with drinking and gambling, creating an area that attracted a high crime rate and prostitution. It was so bad that the governors of Nevada had no choice but to close it down and bring in a law, making gambling illegal in 1910. For lots of different reasons, they decided to reverse this decision, but if they were going to allow gambling in their state, then it would have to be on a properly licenced basis in specially designed buildings. In 1941 El Rancho Vegas was the first venue to open as a resort in the style we now know and love. As well as the gambling facilities there was a hotel, swimming pools, and luxury horse riding facilities. It still doesn’t put a match to the massive towering buildings we know today, but it was a start. Compared to the casinos of today it didn’t have much in it, in fact, there was a single roulette wheel, a craps table, two blackjack tables and just 70 slot machines that were known as one-armed bandits.

Casinos Today

However, this location was enough to prove that licenced casinos could offer a safe and practical way to solve illegal gambling problems. The area grew, and of course, casinos opened up in many countries around the world. There are some countries who still do not allow gambling, but generally, it is becoming an accepted practise all over the globe. Of course, in the last decade or so, things have taken a dramatic turn again as the Internet progressed in such a way that made online gambling possible. Ironically, with the 2020 pandemic and more and more people under house arrest, it has been a lifeline that these sorts of facilities exist online. Sadly, it was the demise of many High Street casinos. Las Vegas is so iconic that it stands the test of time and continues to be a holiday destination for many people, but online casinos are now rife. As with everything online, you need to be careful that you are only playing at licenced and regulated legitimate online casinos. Sadly, there will always be con artists looking to make a quick buck.


Eastern Eye

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