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From Brick-and-Mortar to Virtual Chips: The Evolution of Casinos in History and Online

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Gambling as a form of entertainment has been around for millennia. According to historians the first traces of gambling date back to 2300 BC, and the first record of playing cards dates back to AD 800. This shows that even in earlier civilizations the allure of gambling was strong and people loved this form of entertainment. Since then, game designers have gotten very creative in creating new forms of gambling, which ultimately leads to modern luck-based online games.

Here we will talk about the history and evolution of casinos. We will talk about the first brick-and-mortar establishments and how they differ from those that are around today. Also, we'll discuss the changes in the iGaming space, and how this sector developed.

Casino di Venezia and 19th century gambling establishments

The very first gambling establishment in Europe was Casino di Venezia which opened up in 1638. It should be mentioned that this casino was actually a part of the Theatre Saint Moses, and was not a stand-alone gaming hub. The idea was to have a room for entertainment, where guests could spend time during intermissions.

This was the time before the roulette wheel was invented, and almost 300 years before the first slot machines, so guests could only play cards. In other words, there was really no need to build massive gaming rooms like the ones we have today. During the 19th century, casinos started to throughout Europe and the US. However, the big boom happened in 1930, when several US states legalized this form of entertainment and Las Vegas became the main casino hub. Today, resorts on the Las Vegas Strip generate over 2 billion in revenue, and this town still sits at the top of the casino industry.

The early 2000s and the rise of online casinos

Online casino sites feature so much content nowadays and attract all types of players. It's possible to pay safe, play unique games online and even get lots of bonuses. There is a whole industry around online casinos that evaluates sites and informs players about the latest promotions. So, you can easily find online casino gifts or promotions that are currently active if you visit this review site. However, this wasn't always the case. In the early 2000s online casinos for real money didn't attract much attention.

Struggles of early online casinos

There were multiple issues that online gambling businesses needed to contend with during the early days.

  • Legality - This form of entertainment was in the gray area as there were no regulators at that time.
  • Player safety - With no regulators and code of conduct it was difficult to guarantee player safety.
  • Lack of infrastructure - Smartphones and access to strong internet connection weren't that common in many countries.
  • Graphics - The games didn't look as polished and fine-tuned as today.

Once Malta and the UK embraced the concept and started to regulate online casinos the industry began to expand. Operators that launched in the early 2010s like Pink Casino attracted more attention. They acquired licenses from both the UK and Malta's gaming commission and had access to more refined software. Moreover, these sites were mobile-friendly and more accessible in terms of banking options for deposits and withdrawals.

Live dealer games

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One thing online casinos lacked was the social atmosphere, as players couldn't really interact with one another. However, that issue was addressed in the early 2000s as well. In 2006, one of the top software providers Microgaming decided to leverage streaming technology and create a more social version of baccarat. It was called Live Baccarat, and players could see the dealer and the table through the camera. Furthermore, they could communicate with the dealer and with one another through live chat.

This was a massive success, and many other studios began to set up rooms with other table games. Now we have live blackjack, roulette, poker, craps, and lots of other game shows. This was especially popular in the blackjack community. One of the main strategies for blackjack is card counting, and players are more successful if there are more participants at the table. The live dealer category made that possible.


Online casino gaming continues to improve to this day. Currently, devs are experimenting with VR technology, metaverse casinos, and even adding brand-new games. Arcades or mini-games are some of the more recent additions and they are a big hit with younger gamers. Scratch cards, bingo rooms, fantasy sports and lottery shows are also very common nowadays, and they weren't there in the early 2000s.

Author's bio

Leslie Alexander is a digital marketing maven and a gaming enthusiast. As one of the top creative voices at Gamblizard, she spearheads the content strategy and management efforts. Leslie loves to organize poker nights at her house, and she also enjoys playing online slots, Plinko, and blackjack.

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