History Files



The Casino: A History

Gambling has been around since the earliest forms of human civilization. Many trace its origin to ancient Mesopotamia. However, most anthropologists and historians agree that it has likely been around since the prehistoric era. Evidence for this claim are obviously sparse, if not non-existent. However, it is not much of a stretch to believe that humans have always been wagering.

Archeologists have discovered dice games which they've dated back to ancient China, and there is countless writing from the ancient world that point to the prevalence of gambling. However, one thing that remains consistent is that none of them mention 'the casino', or any variation on a similar establishment.

The casino

Today, we are all aware of what a casino is. Even if you have never visited one such establishment, you can undoubtedly imagine one. They've become such an integral part of popular culture that we all know what casinos look like, even if we have never been.

Furthermore, we don't even need to visit casinos in order to gamble. Thanks to the top new online casinos 2023, we can wager on our favorite games, in our very own home. Mobile phones have also made gambling a lot simpler, as you can connect to a casino through your smartphone and start playing.

But, if the casino, in one form or another, wasn't around in the ancient world, when did it start? Well, in this article, we aim to answer that exact question. Let us take a look at the history of the casino.

The first casino

Before we get to the history, we would like to first define what we mean by casino. A casino is not just a place where you can gamble. After all, the ancients gambled in taverns, inns, and even on the street.

Most commonly, a casino can be seen as a gambling establishment that features a variety of different games. You can play games of chance, order drinks, and mingle with a crowd.

By that definition, the casino as we know it began in Italy. In the 17th century, the Great Council of Venice, which was the ruling body of the country at the time, decreed that a wing of the Palazzo Dandolo be converted in to a government-sponsored gambling house. The Dandolo was among the most popular hotels in Venice at the time, so the renovation reached the ears of a lot of people.

By 1638, the renovations were done and 'The Private Room' (Il Ridotto) was open for business. Though it was not called a casino at the time, it fit all but in name. You could drink, you could gamble, and you could wager at the Il Ridotto. There was a strict dress code, a tradition that many casinos retain to this day.

As for games, patrons could play biribi and barbacole, a bingo-like game and a card game which English speakers might recognize as 'hocca'. For better or worse, 1638 was officially the start of the casino industry, as well as the point when the first casino opened its doors.

Casinos in the UK

The history of the casino in the United Kingdom is quite difficult to gauge. Many believe that Charles I's anti-gambling decree led to the creation of the casinos as we know them. Others view the Il Ridotto as a more likely ancestor. One thing is true, gambling in the UK is older than you'd expect.

During the Middle Ages, English nobles organized horse racing and cricket tournaments. They would sponsor riders or teams, and wager with other lords on the outcome. However, while this is certainly an act of gambling, we can't call it 'casino gambling'. That came in the 1800s.

In the 19th century, private 'Gentleman's Clubs' were clubs that richer men could join. It was a place to talk shop, catch up, and for lack of a better term, hang out. These clubs, rather famously, featured roulette tables, which soon were accompanied by blackjack tables, and eventually even poker.

It is not hard to see how these gentleman's clubs could eventually grow into casinos in their own right. And in 1960, that is exactly what happened. The United Kingdom past its first ever legislation that focuses on regulating gambling and sports betting.

Soon, Gentleman's Clubs grew into casinos, new gambling establishments opened, and the country became known as the gambling capital of Europe, however briefly they may have retained that title.

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