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Evolution Of The Casino

| 06.11.2018

Gambling is a much older sport than we may think, and is still as popular now as it ever was. There was proof of gambling in China way back in 2300 BC, after tiles from this period were found depicting people gambling together. Egyptian dice have also been found from around 1500 BC, alluding to the playing of games and gambling during this time too.

But what about the homeplace of gambling and games – the casino? We’ll explore the evolution of the casino in this guide. And don’t forget to view our full infographic depicting said evolution in full, glorious colour.


The very first casino 

The very first casino was opened in 1638, in Venice, Italy. Named Ridotto, the casino was owned by the government and was located in the grand Venice Palazzo Dandolo. 

The casino was incredibly popular with locals and visitors, but was closed by reformer Giorgio Pisani in 1774, who believed that gambling didn’t fit with the values and prestige of the city; a sentiment that soon echoed worldwide.



The growth of the casino

After the opening and consequent closing of Ridotto, casinos started appearing everywhere across Europe in the 1800s; and by the 20th century, they were commonplace in many cities and towns.

Cities like Monte Carlo, Baden-Baden and Como were home to extravagant, palatial casinos – some of which are still around today. A visit to one of these casinos was reserved only for the rich and elite upper class. 

In North America, casinos began with the arrival of saloons. Intended for regular citizens and weary passengers travelling through the night, saloons quickly became a place for people to gather, play cards and gamble for money. This was, however, until gambling was outlawed by the US government in 1910, and saloons soon began to disappear.


Legalisation in the US

In 1931 however, gambling was legalised in the state of Nevada after a 21-year ban, and aimed to provide some economic relief after the hard-hitting depression in the state.



Nevada took full advantage of the lifted ban, with plenty of casinos popping up all over the state. And while gambling was still outlawed in the rest of the US, people flocked to Nevada, particularly Las Vegas, to play casino games and enjoy gambling once more. Las Vegas is still to this day known as the gambling capital of the world and has the highest number of casinos than anyplace else.

The remaining states were slow to follow suit, only beginning to legalise gambling and casinos from the late 1960s onwards.


Controlled gambling in the UK

In the UK, while gambling was never made illegal, there have been many legislations passed over the years to help regulate gambling controls and protect British citizens.

For example, the Gaming Act of 1968 meant that commercial UK casinos were given licence to operate due to a high demand for social gaming in a safe and controlled way, and the Gambling Act of 2005 led to the establishment of the Gambling Commission – to regulate gambling and supervise gambling laws in the UK.


The history of casino games

Casino games have a rich history, and popular games today include slot machines, roulette, and blackjack. But where did these popular games originate?


slot machines


Slot games

The most popular casino game, the slot machine was invented in 1887 by American mechanic Charles Fey. A simple design, the machine had just three reels and five symbols, and was introduced in casinos and public places too.



Invented in 1675, roulette is the oldest casino game to date. It is believed to be created by French scientist Blaise Pascal, who did not set out to create a casino game! Pascal was trying to invent a machine that would use its own energy to keep turning, but instead created what we now know as the roulette wheel.

The French Blanc brothers were the first to invent the game itself, in 1848. They took the game to Germany, before going to Monaco and establishing the game in the world-famous Monte Carlo casino. 



The history of the popular table game blackjack is not clear, but it is widely believed that it was born in France.

When the French took the game to America in the eighteenth century, it was not popular. So, changes were made to the game, including incorporating other elements of popular casino games, and blackjack as we know it today was born.


Casinos today

Although casino attendance has grown in recent years, the introduction of the online casino has created a new platform for people to gamble safely online.



Saying this however, casino attendance in the UK has been growing rapidly since the late 2000s, with an increase of more than 3.7 million visitors in just four years. As of 2017, the number of gaming machines in Great Britain totalled 183,928, and it is estimated that the global social casino market reached 2.42 billion GBP in 2018.

And what about the big casino wins – and losses? The biggest ever casino win occurred in Las Vegas in 2003, when an anonymous 25-year old software engineer won a staggering £30,064,675.98 on a Megabucks machine.




And the biggest recorded casino’s loss came from the opening night of Thunderbirds Casino in 1948, where two men won £121,124.00 from a game of craps. The owners had only £31,038.00 to give away, and as such had to sell the casino to pay the rest!





George Barbu