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Roman Europe

Brief History of the Casino Industry

by Alex Larsens, 26 August 2021

Casinos are a popular modern form of entertainment, both online and offline. What a lot of people don't know is that casinos are not a modern invention.

They have been part of society for centuries.

For anyone who has been wondering about who invented the first slot machines, and when the first casino was created, read on.

Oldest casino games

When it comes to casino games, one of the oldest games still to be played today, in a somewhat similar manner, is craps.

Originally, the game was played within the Roman empire, as Roman soldiers allegedly used the knuckle-bones of a pig as dice, while their shields were used as a table. However, some historians think the oldest form of this game is actually the Arabic dice game, Al Dar.

When it comes to the modern and widely accepted version of the game, this was created during the Crusades by Sir William of Tyre, in 1125.

Poker is also one of the oldest casino games. Some historians believe that the previous variant of poker was the Persian card game, As Nas, which dates back to the sixteenth century AD.

The modern version of poker, however, is considered to be the European game, Poque, which was played across France in the seventeenth century.

Beyond these table casino games, people today play various online games such as slots, blackjack, roulette, and other games in many variations. In fact, reputable modern online casinos take some pride in offering a vast collection of casino games and a smooth gaming experience on every form of device.

Slot machines

In comparison to the table casino games, slot machines were invented much later, in California in 1894. Charles Fey is considered to be the inventor of the coin-operated slot machines which quickly became popular in the USA.

He first tested the machine in a saloon, where it was so popular it prompted him to start his own business and later develop the three-reel slot machine which featured automatic cash payouts.

A modern casino, descendant of the type which was invented by Charles Fey in the California of 1894

However, the adoption of slot machines wasn't without obstacles, especially from the clergy. As a result, competitors developed slot machines which paid out winnings in the form of cigarettes and drinks instead of cash prizes. This, however, didn't halt the popularity of slot machines and, today, they are amongst the most popular games both in traditional and online casinos.

The first casino

The word 'casino' comes from an Italian word which means 'little house'. It is the coastal city of Venice which houses the Casino di Venezia, which is reputedly the oldest casino in the world.

It was initially a theatre by the name of Theatre Saint Moses, in 1638, which had a separate section for gambling. A lot of people visited the casino section during the intermission between acts in the theatre.

It became a very popular wing of the theatre, and it ignited interest in casino games. This resulted in over a hundred casinos existing by 1744.

In terms of the first online casino, this was created with the advent of the internet by a now-leading iGaming developer by the name of Microgaming, in 1994.

It was called the Gaming Club Online Casino. There were only a few options available, but it was the start of the online gambling phenomenon, and today participants get to choose between hundreds of top online casino games.



Main image and text copyright © Alex Larsens. An original feature for the History Files.