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The History of Casino Games

There must be something in human nature that craves the excitement of gambling. How else could we explain the fact that games of chance have been found in every culture, in every century, from Ancient Egypt and China to the Roman Empire to the 21st-century online casino? The history of casinos and casino games is therefore a long and fascinating one.

The Little House of Gaming

The word "casino" comes from the Italian for "little house." It originally referred to a small pavilion located on the grounds of a large villa. The little house was used for parties that featured music and dancing and socializing and, sometimes, games of chance. Over the course of time, the games became the dominant feature of the casinos and the little house grew into a big gambling club.

The first modern casino as we know it was established in Monaco, still a center for gambling today, in 1861. Casino gambling for real money became legal in the UK in 1960, although this did not prevent large numbers of British citizens from continuing to travel to Europe to enjoy the casinos there.

In the US, gambling for real money has been legal on and off for centuries. The first gambling laws there were passed in the 1600s, although games of chance had already been part of the traditions of the American Indians for long before that. In 1931 the state of Nevada legalized gambling, which led to the establishment of Las Vegas as the city of casinos. The Foxwoods casino in the state of Connecticut has 6,000 slot machines and 350 gaming tables. The "little house" is not so little anymore.

The History of Slot Machines

The slot machine was invented by a mechanic named Charles Fey in California in the 1890s. He called his slot machine the Liberty Bell, but the slot machine became popularly known as the One-Armed Bandit. Over time, the slot machine developed with more reels and paylines, more interesting themes and symbols, and more sophisticated technology as the random number generator eventually replaced the mechanical reels. All of this progress culminated in the introduction of the online slot machine in the 1990s, exactly a century after the invention of the Liberty Bell. The develpment of online slots, in turn, led to the creation of its cousin, online video poker. In fact, the story is far from over, as newer, better, and more exciting online slot games are still being created every month.

History of Card Games

Modern cards as we know them today were adapted by the French in the 1300s. These cards were adapted from ideas that were picked up in Central Asia and the Arab countries. The French nobility were known to play cards with pictures of Napoleon and other emperors on them. Originally cards had totally different pictures on them from what they have today, and were carved from wood. The French are responsible for giving the card suits — spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. From the cards developed games such as Poker and Blackjack. Blackjack is considered to be a later version of a game known as Trente et Un, which, in order to win, the player needed to get as close to the number 31 (Trente et Un) as possible. From the Trente et Un came Vingt et Un which is French for 21. Other variations of this game developed over the years, but the game that remained the most popular in its many versions is blackjack or, as the English named it, pontoon.

Poker as named by the French was developed from the Persian game of "As Nas". Poker developed and spread across the continents through the years to become one of the most popular casino games today.

Casino Games from Ancient China and Rome

There are many Chinese proverbs that incorporate hints of how to win at games of chance, although such games can be found dating back to the festivals of the Druids. The Chinese have always been known for their games of numbers and from them many modern games such as keno have developed.

Casino games were not just limited to the Chinese. There is one story of how a Roman nobleman insisted that the interior of his carriage be redesigned so that he could play dice games on his way to different meetings. It is also noted that there was a law passed by the Roman Empire decreeing that all sons learn how to gamble and throw dice in order that they could join in with their fathers as they came of age. This shows how important gambling and casino games were to Roman culture and society. Betting on the outcome of fights has been common throughout the history of both Eastern and Western cultures.

Craps and Roulette from Egypt and France

If one looks at all of the modern casino games that there are today, one can see that they are based on ancient games from one culture or another. Craps, the game of dice, is known to be descended from the Egyptian practice of Witch Doctors whereby they threw numbered stones together with bones to determine the fate of people who were in poor health.

Roulette, which only really caught on in the second half of the 19th Century, was derived from the famous mathematician Blaise Pascal, who came upon the roulette wheel by chance when he was experimenting with perpetual motion. From his invention of the roulette wheel, the popular game of roulette developed and became the flagship symbol for many casinos.

The Online Casino Takes Off

The most recent and exciting development in the history of casino games is the online casino. With the development and widespread acceptance of computers, new types of casino games have become available. People who used to have to wait in line to play their favorite slot machine can now play slots online whenever they want to. Games that were previously thought of as too exclusive for most players became available to play on the Internet. One such example is baccarat. In land-based casinos, only the most exclusive guests were allowed to enter the roped-off area set aside for that game. Online casinos have made baccarat more accessible to any type of player, and the betting minimum is much lower than in the fancier gaming houses on land.

With the development of the Internet and Random Number Generators (RNG), online casino gaming really took off in the 1990's. Since the 1990's there has been a boom in real-money online casino gambling because of the easy accessibility and also the low betting minimums. There are over 2000 online casinos today that offer nearly every type of real-money casino game possible.

It is natural that people want to relax and enjoy themselves after a hard day's work, whether the work was in the California gold mines at the time of the gold rush, or the work was at a computer station in the modern world. Casino games have always been thought of as a way of escaping the hustle and bustle of regular life and a way of enjoying oneself. Casino games have developed over the years as the needs of the players have changed, but the original games still exist in one form or another. From the Egyptian Witch Doctors to the Roman Gladiators to the inventors of the Random Number Generator, each has given a great contribution to the enjoyment of casino games. When playing any of the many casino games, one must always remember the rich history of culture and society that lies behind each game.

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