Nowadays, millions of people go online to gamble at online casinos. But, why many people choose online casinos? One of the answers would be: because they provide the best bonuses, the best games and the most enjoyable player experience. The online casino has a few characteristics that distinguish it from the traditional casinos – it is accessible (because of the Internet), interactive, highly entertaining and also, slowly but steadily, becoming a real source of income. In the following article, we will discuss the origins and evolution of casino, casino games and their future trends.
Casino – the origins
It is well-known that gambling has always been a way of entertainment. In fact, games of chance have been played through the ages, with records dating back to ancient Greece and Rome, showing evidence of different gambling games being played. There’s even an account of Chinese gambling activities dating back to 2300BC. Through the course of history and literature it can be seen that gambling has been a part of everyday life, since immemorial times. What is interesting is the fact that, back then, people who played this games (crabs or cards) did it in the streets of different large cities. So, there was not a special place in which you could go and gamble. Gambling was more of an outdoor and social experience.
The first casino, as a space in which you could gamble, was recorded in Venice, Italy. This place was called a gambling house. Its doors opened in 1638 and its purpose was to provide a controlled environment in which people could gamble legally, during the Carnevale period. Due to its large success, one hundred years later, “The Ridotto” was closed because it was thought that this place lead to high levels of crime, misconduct and impoverishment of the local merchants.
If in Europe, the first casinos were a place of extravaganza, glamour and high society meetings, in America, the casinos had a different atmosphere. The saloons, mainly found in Chicago, St Louis, New Orleans and San Francisco, were functioning as hotels or motels. These were places in which travellers stayed or simply stopped for refreshments. So, if they wanted to have fun, they entered the saloons, drank, ate, talked, danced and gambled. Thus, gambling was seen as one of the many forms of entertainment. Saloons went out of fashion when social reformers and state legislation banned gambling in the early 20th century.
Then, the state of Nevada was the first state to legalise gambling, in 1931, and this is where the first legal casinos were established. Because of this, during the twentieth century, America was the country, and more precisely the city of Las Vegas was most readily associated with casinos. The city of Las Vegas rose from the desert on the back of legalised gambling and is still the casino capital of the world today. Later in the twentieth century, the state of New Jersey also legalised gambling in Atlantic City, which is now the second casino capital.
Land-based casinos spread rapidly after the World War II, beacause of the economic boom and the entertainment euphoria that characterized the world after this event. But, even though numerous, physical casinos served only a tiny proportion of the world’s population.
The invention of Internet changed the game completely! In just a few years the technology and the online platforms made it possible for the online casinos to appear. The transition to online casinos has really meant that anyone can play casino games, no matter where they are. Vast numbers of people who would never have visited a land-based casino started gambling online. With the exclusive bonuses available on almost every online casino, you can just ‘have a go’ at gambling to see if you like it. You don’t have to commit more than a few minutes to it and you don’t even need to put any money down. So, you can try out a variety of games, before committing to one or two. Nowadays, with the serious progress in web designing and virtual reality technology, the games (especially the slots) became more and more attractive, with graphics and interfaces that almost literally transport you into the casino world.
Casino games – the origins
Over the years, casino games have been one of the biggest sources of entertainment. As mentioned above, the appearance of Internet took game making to a whole new level. Now, with a pair of VR glasses you can play online slots, poker, crabs, etc. What is worth to be mentioned is the fact that many of the old games have been remastered so that would provide the same gambling feeling. It can be said that they are old, but with a new technological twist. The oldest casino games, as indicated below, have not only managed to stand the test of time but have also managed to nestle themselves deep into the hearts of players young and old, and, by doing so, cemented their position in the casino industry.
The oldest known casino game, Craps, was invented by Sir William of Tyre during the Crusades in 1125 AD. Sir William and his troops came across a castle named “Asart” or “Hazarth” and while barricading the castle they’d play Hazard, named after the castle. Others believe the game originated from Al Zar, an Arabic dice game that was brought to Europe by merchants in the 12th Century. It was believed that a Frenchman changed the name to “Craps” to separate them from the Englishmen. John H. Winn developed the game in the 19th Century into the modern version we are accustomed to today.
Blackjack was derived from a game with an unknown origin called Twenty-One. The first found reference to the game was in the writings of Spanish author, Miguel de Cervantes, famous for writing Don Quixote. In his tale “Rinconete y Cortadillo”, from Novellas Ejemplares, Cervantes tells the story of a couple of cheats working in Seville. The characters have mastered the skill of cheating at Ventiuna (Twenty-One). Miguel de Cervantes was quite the gambler himself and the story was written somewhere between 1601 and 1602. According to these dates the game had been played since the beginning of the 17th century.
Roulette has been a favourite for many centuries. According to legendary tales from the past, ancient Romans spun their chariot wheels to reveal the winnings symbols/numbers in this fascinating game of chance. The proper shaping of the game that made its way into casinos (and the hearts of players all over the world) was in France. According to origin stories there was a famous French mathematician and scientist named Blaise Pascal who went on a retreat and spent leisure time gambling in a Parisian casino. It was from there that he created the original roulette game back in 1657.
For years, casino players have enjoyed a fun game of Poker – also known as the Bragging Game when translated to the German, ”Pochspiel”. An interesting thing about Poker is that its development can be linked to the historical movement during which commercial gambling was invented. It all dated back to 1829 when an English Actor, Joseph Crowell, reported a game of Poker being played in New Orleans. According to Crowell the game was played with a deck of 20 cards and four players, these gamblers were betting on which player held the most valuable hand of cards in their possession.
The pioneer of the modern slot machine was developed back in 1891 by Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn, New York. The game was based on Poker and had five drums holding a total of 50 card faces. The machine was an instant hit and in no time there were one or more in the majority of bars across the city. People would insert a nickel and pull the lever which would spin the drums in hope of it coming to a stop on a good poker hand. With no direct pay-out mechanisms available players had to settle for drinks and cigarettes as prizes. These machines soon evolved into the amazing video and online versions we enjoy today.
Casinos and online betting
In recent years, there is a new trend that was implemented rapidly by the online casinos – online betting. This phenomenon made it even easier for people to gamble and meant reaching an even larger number of potential gamblers. Now, on the same online casino platform, it’s possible to place a bet, watch the game and win a few spins at slots. This integrated strategy provides more real-feel experience and satisfaction to the clients.
All and all, by taking a glance at the evolution on casinos, casino games and online betting it can be easily seen that, throughout history, the main traits and purposes of these three means of entertainment remained the same – having, socializing and making money, on the side. So, we do not know what to expect next from the world of casinos, but some things are certain – the number of online casinos is increasing every year, the games available become catchier and more interactive (with live casino and virtual reality, for example) and online betting is also becoming a very popular and highly engaging activity among gamblers.