Modern gambling has gone a long road to get where it is today – and it has a longer history than you might expect. The first evidence of gambling goes back to 2300BC! Time went on, and mentions & pictures of different games appeared all around the world. But what about something that we could still find in casinos today?
Well, the oldest game that we still enjoy to this day is actually Baccarat which came to be some time in the 1400s. We can thank south Europe for this classic, as it is believed to have orignated in Italy and migrated in Fance. Of course, it took many years for it to become the Baccarat of today.
This is Frank Sinatra dealing baccarat in Las Vegas, Sands Casino 1959.
Surely this isn‘t the only classic, right? Well, yes! Blackjack also has an incredible rich history, although it’s unclear when exactly it originated. One thing for sure is that it was invented in 1600s (specific, right?), and it got its name in the United States around 1930s. Can you believe the name was simply a part of a special promotion in Nevada casinos?
Dean Martin, running a blackjack game in 1958. Photo by Allan Grant.
Next stop? Why, it‘s Roulette, of course! To be precise, the first Roulette was what we now call American Roulette, and – cue irony – it originated in Paris, 1796. It became more and more popular through the years. Then finally, when the Monte Carlo casino created a new form of this game, it spread throughout all Europe, and most of the world.
People playing Roulette in ~1930-40s.
If you‘ve got a feeling Poker must be pretty old, then you‘re absolutely right! Although younger than the two counterparts above, it’s still a pretty senior game. Once again, it’s difficult to say the precise date of its origin. However, Joseph Crowell has noted that a form of it was being played in New Orleans in 1829 – so that gives us a clue. Poker became popular only much later, starting with world tournaments in 1970s, and really booming in our era of Internet.
A poker game sometime in 1950s.
And finally, we get to the first gambling machines! One-armed bandits can be traced back to New York, where the first one was invented by Sittman and Pitt in 1891. Charles Fey in San Francisco created a similar machine called Liberty Bell around the same time – and it proved to be way more practical, because the winnings could be regulated precisely. The first video slot came to be in 1976, and the rest is history!
A woman playing slots at Tropicana
Of course, when Internet became a thing that pretty much anyone has access to, gambling changed. Online casinos and poker rooms started appearing left and right, and a new era began! Although I must admit – vintage gambling does seem to have sort of a charm.