History of Gambling and Casinos

Written by Sylvester Greer

Every person who steps into the fascinating world of an online casino is standing on centuries of history. The thrill of a spinning roulette wheel, the anticipation in a hand of poker and the quick-fire action of slot machines roots technicolor branches in a history rich soil. But have you ever wondered what the oldest games are that livened up the casino floors all around the world?

The prestigious history of casinos dates back to the 17th century. While the physical format of games has evolved significantly since then (thanks, internet!), the core concepts and entertainment has remained fairly constant. Let’s take a trip back in time and explore some of the oldest games to have ever graced casinos.



Baccarat stands as one of the most timeless games in any casino, tracing its roots back to Italy in the 1400s. Derived from the Italian word “baccara”, meaning zero, the game migrated to France where it became a favorite of King Charles VIII and the aristocratic class.

Playing baccarat is fairly simple, but the elegance and competitive nature of the game continue to draw people from all over the world. The objective is to predict which hand between the player and banker will get closest to 9 when the values of the cards are tallied. Cards 2 through 9 are worth their numerical values while face cards and 10s are worth zero. Aces are worth 1 point. If the total exceeds 9, the second digit determines the value (for example a 7 and 9 would total 16 but count as 6). This makes it a game of careful calculation and prediction, reading the odds and anticipating your opponent’s moves.

Baccarat’s migration from Italy to France cemented its place among nobility and high society. Its sophistication and refinement continue to attract affluent players today. Yet its simplicity also makes it accessible and enjoyable for all. When online casinos democratized gaming, baccarat provided high rolling thrills to the masses. Players are still captivated centuries later, showing this ancient game has true staying power.


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Known as Twenty-One, blackjack is believed to spawn from Spain and France in the 17th century. Historic records of “Ventiuna” (‘Twenty-One’ in Spanish) mention easy rules: strive for 21 without busting. Today, Blackjack remains a cornerstone offering in any online casino, let alone the physical establishments.

The objective is simple – make a hand whose card values add up closer to 21 than the dealer without going over. Numbered cards are worth their pip values while face cards are worth 10. Aces can be valued at either 1 or 11. Play proceeds with players trying to improve their hands by taking more cards (hits) or standing pat. After all players have acted, the dealer flips their facedown card and acts according to fixed rules, usually having to hit up to 16 and stand at 17 or more. If your hand beats the dealer’s, you win (unless you bust).

Blackjack’s balance of skill and luck has made it alluring for centuries. Players can gain an edge by learning how to play optimal strategy based on their hand and the dealer’s upcard. This makes blackjack more interactive than pure guessing games like baccarat. Card counters can even shift the odds in their favor by keeping track of dealt cards. The ability to outplay the dealer keeps players coming back.

Like baccarat, blackjack exploded in popularity in the 20th century. Casinos worldwide feature rows of blackjack tables to meet the high demand. The game even gave rise to blackjack tournaments where players compete head to head for prizes. Hundreds of variations have emerged, like Spanish 21 and Double Exposure, showing how 21 continues to capture the fascination of gamblers after centuries.


The roulette wheel originated in the 18th century France, showcasing the vibrance of mathematical probability. Historians believe the notorious mathematician Blaise Pascal accidentally invented a primitive form of roulette while trying to invent a perpetual-motion machine. This game of chance has been one of the centerpieces of casino action worldwide ever since.

The iconic spinning wheel of red and black alternating slots represents randomness and probability at their finest. Players simply bet on which number or color the ivory ball will land on after the wheel is spun. The alternating patterns of red/black and odd/even offer even money bets with nearly 50/50 odds. You can bet groups of numbers or even/odd/red/black for lower but still substantial payouts. If RNG isn’t your speed, you can always bet it all on a single number – the riskiest but most rewarding bet.

Roulette exemplifies casino gaming in its purest form – sheer luck and probability, untouched by skill or strategy. The wheel has hypnotized gamblers for centuries, drawing them to bet on its seemingly endless permutations. Additionally, the elegant table layout and clickity-clack of the wheel evoke a sophisticated casino atmosphere. Roulette tables remain a centerpiece of any major casino for these reasons.

In conclusion, games like baccarat, blackjack, and roulette have endured for centuries because they create an ideal casino experience blending skill, luck, and excitement. Their longevity is a testament to the human desire to take risks and chase rewards in games of chance. Even in today’s world of immersive video slots and VR experiences, these classics continue spinning away, as popular as ever. Their rich history serves as the roots that gave rise to the modern casino landscape we know today. So next time you visit your favorite online or land-based casino, take a moment to appreciate these games that have been drawing in players and thrilling gamblers since casinos first opened their doors.

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Sylvester Greer

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