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Casino History

Roulette, Black Jack, Poker, Backgammon, Baccarat and slot machines dance before a person’s eyes when the word “casino” is heard. As a gambler’s paradise, casino’s go way back into history. 

The Origin

The word “casino” is drawn from the Italian word “casa,” which meant a building built on the property of a bigger villa, and which is used for pleasure. This included gambling and other sports. So it could be inferred that the birthplace of the casinos is Italy. However as far back as the BC years, China has records that show the existence of gambling, but there is no account of casinos. The earliest casinos originated in Europe and later on found its place in the United States and other nations of the world. 

In the US, the casinos were at first called saloons. A saloon was a place where people could go to smoke, drink and gamble. It was a socializing arena where gambling was one of the pasttimes. However, this was done more discretely then, as gambling was considered against the law. Casinos were made legal in the 1930s and Nevada was one of the first states to get the license. The license went to a small town in Nevada called Las Vegas. Thus began the long history of Las Vegas as the gambling capital of the world. Through the years, casinos were legalized through more and more states of the United States and many parts of Europe and Asia. Yet there are many countries in the world like India, Japan and many Middle Eastern countries gambling and casinos are totally banned. Illegal gambling still takes place in these countries, but it is a crime punishable under criminal law. 

Las Vegas – The Rise Of The Gamblers’ Capital

Las Vegas put gambling on the globe. The casinos of Las Vegas were built like dreams. They were (and still are) mostly built in an area called the Las Vegas Strip. The first casino opened on the Strip in the year 1941. People went to Las Vegas not just to gamble but to see the sights as well. Famous stars like Elvis, Sinatra and Dean Martin all gambled in the casinos of Las Vegas and gave it a more glamorous appeal. The 70s also saw casinos being linked with the mob. It was said that many of the Vegas casinos were owned by mafia kings who pitted against each other.

Even with such dark associations casinos grew and Vegas still holds the supreme position when it comes to gambling. Some of the famous casinos of Las Vegas are the Golden Nugget, Hotel California, Sahara, Main Street Station, Caesar’s Palace, The Palazzo and the Bellagio, to mention a few. Famous movies have been filmed in Las Vegas including “Casino”; “Ocean’s 11,” “Swingers,” and many more blockbusters. 

The History Of Casino Games

Casino games as such dates back to the more than 5000 years when an ancient version of backgammon was played in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. The game is known to have been played by the Romans and the Indians in ancient times. It became a hit among the gamblers of Europe in the 12th century. The game has evolved many times into what it is today. 

Baccarat was introduced as a game by Da Vinci in Italy during the 15th century. Baccarat later on transpired to France and remained an exclusive French royalty game for many years before it became a casino game. It is a card game where the player has three options to bet – Player, Banker and Tie. Roulette originated somewhere in the beginning of the 18th century. The origin of the name is French and is meant to mean “little wheel.” 

The game involves players betting on the numbers of the wheel and the croupier spinning the wheel. The person who bets on the winning number clears the table. Though originated in France the game soon spread to Germany and other European countries and found its place in the casinos of USA. The roulette is one of the most popular casino games ever to be played. Black Jack is Spanish in origin and dates back to the 17th century. The name was originally called Twenty One. However, the American version of it changed the game slightly to make it more popular among the gamblers by including certain payoffs. 

One was a ten-to-one pay off if the player held a hand, which contained the ace of spades and a black jack. This hand was popularly called the black jack and later the game itself came to be called that. One of the casino favorites are the slot machines. They were invented by the Americans towards the end of the 19th century. Slot machines are also called one-armed bandits. A person plays on a slot machine by inserting a coin in a slot provided and pulling a lever. The game involves the matching of certain symbols. Upon hitting up on the right match the person wins. There are hundreds of other casino games as well, which are played with as much fervor as the ones mentioned above. 

The Internet Infiltration - Online Casinos

Today casinos have infiltrated the internet. There are online casinos where all the casino originals can be played online. The betting and other rules remain more or less the same. The online casinos originated in the 21st century with the invention of the web. The very first online casinos offered somewhere between 15 to 20 games. Some of these games can be played at real-time online while others can be downloaded onto a personal computer. Online gamblers in the US even have an organization to protect their interest called eCOGRA which stands for eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance. The online casinos are catching on fast and house many games and even having online gaming rooms.

Casinos are definitely not a concept that was invented recently to reel in the gamblers. The concept existed many centuries ago. Gambling has always been an entertaining pass time and due to its addictive nature the growth graph of casinos have always had an upward curve. The beautiful Las Vegas casinos, the casinos of Atlantic City, the gambling houses of Macau, the glamorous casinos of Monte Carlo are all filled with people who are eager to get a firsthand feel of the casino experience.

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