The Evolution of the Casino: From Ancient Rome to Modern Las Vegas

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Casinos have been around as long as civilization, but American casinos have only existed since 1931 when Nevada legalized gambling. Since then , casinos have had an evolution into modern Las Vegas, with major casino resorts having become popular tourist landmarks .

What was, until relatively recently, simply a gambling hall , the modern-day casino has evolved into a major industry in its own right . With the introduction of slot machines in casinos, the slot machine became the most popular form of gambling in the US. There are now tens of thousands of casinos across the US, and in Nevada alone there are 171 licensed casino resorts.

The Casino’s Early History

Although the first casinos in America were illegal, Las Vegas has built itself around gambling. The early history of gambling in Las Vegas dates back to the late 1800s with the creation of the Union Pacific Railroad. In the early 1900s, the Railroad built a station at the intersection of the tracks with the Las Vegas Strip. It was on this spot that the Las Vegas Club opened, and in 1906 it was bought by another businessman and started operating as a hotel . In 1931 , Nevada legalized gambling, and the first casino opened on the Las Vegas Strip.

As legalization spread nationwide in the 1950s, casinos began to crop up in other places , including Atlantic City, New Jersey . Las Vegas held its own against these new casinos and became one of the primary tourist destinations in the US.

The Casino in the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages saw the development of gambling halls throughout Europe . The evolution of gambling halls from medieval Europe parallels the development of casinos in modern America, and both were developed as a way for poor people to make money. In the Middle Ages, gambling was usually restricted to nobility and clergymen , and people could only participate socially. It was considered a profession for the wealthy.

Many of the games people played in medieval Europe were fairly similar to modern casino games . Games such as Poker , Blackjack, Baccarat, and Craps were all played at this time. However, some games were instrumental in developing modern casino games that are still played today.

One of the most influential games of the Middle Ages was Boule , in which two teams competed against each other in a volleyball-like game. The game was similar to modern Volleyball and was played outdoors on a court made of sand or gravel. The game had two teams of three players each, and was very popular in Europe due to its portable nature .

Another influential game was Faro , which was a game that involved tossing dice to determine the winner of a game. This game had a rich history that can be traced back to ancient Egypt and Babylonia. It later spread to the Mediterranean and was played by the Romans and Greeks before becoming popular in Italy and the Netherlands .

The game of Faro was less popular in England than in France and the Netherlands because English people were banned from playing certain games in their country because of their religious or political beliefs .

The game was brought to England by French settlers in the 16th century and became a popular pastime in London’s Inns . The game eventually evolved into the modern game of craps.

The Casino in Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome was the birthplace of a number of casino games that are still popular today. One of the most well-known casino bk8 games that was popular in ancient Rome was the card game of Hazard. Hazard is believed to have originated in Egypt in around 300 BC and was later brought to Rome by Greek traders. The game was extremely popular in Rome and was played on streets and in homes .

Like modern poker , Hazard was a competition between two players that had the objective of getting a hand that had a higher value than that of the hand of the other player. One player kept a card face-down and called “hazard” if he wanted his opponent to draw that card. The other player then drew a card and tried to match or beat the value of the original card .

Hazard was later banned by Emperor Augustus because it made people overly obsessed with gambling . However , the game eventually made its way back onto the streets of Rome and continued to be a popular pastime among Roman citizens.

The Casino in Medieval Europe

During the Middle Ages in Europe , gambling was generally restricted to nobility and clergymen . Despite this limited exposure, a few casino games became popular during this period.

Punto Banco

Punto Banco is a type of banking game that is still popular today. The game originated in Portugal during the 13th century and was popular among merchants and bankers. Punto Banco is a type of board game that involves betting on the outcome of a roll . Normally , the game involves two players and two dice that are rolled to determine the winner.

The game is popular today due to its relative simplicity in comparison to other casino games .


Baccarat is another game that originated in Portugal. The game was extremely popular in Portugal and its colonies during the 15th century. The game is similar to Punto Banco in that it involves betting on the outcome of two dice . However , unlike Punto Banco there is no winner determined based on the number of dice that were rolled.

Baccarat was later brought to France and became extremely popular during the Middle Ages in Europe .

Une Main Robe

Une Main Robe is another card game that originated in Portugal during the Middle Ages .

Une Main Robe is a card game that is similar to Blackjack or Black Jack in which the objective is to get cards with the same suit as the dealer’s cards without exceeding 21 points .

Une Main Robe is still a popular game in Portugal and other European countries .

The Casino in the Renaissance

Gambling became legal in Italy in 1494 during the reign of Pope Alexander VI. This led many Italian noblemen to start gambling clubs that were held in their homes. At this time , gambling was also common in France and Spain .

The popularity of gambling clubs led to the development of the first true casinos in Renaissance Europe. The first true casino opened in Venice in 1552 and was a meeting place for wealthy individuals who enjoyed gambling on their free times .

In Italy , gambling clubs became known as trattoria or “taverns.” Taverns were places where people could meet for a meal without needing to pay in advance for the meal . These taverns also doubled as gambling clubs where people could gamble before and after meals.

The Casino in the 19th Century

The 19th century saw the rise of modern casinos in the United States and France. In 1854 , the first American casino opened in New Orleans, Louisiana . This was followed in 1855 by the opening of the first true casino in the United States in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

By the 1870s , gambling had become extremely common in the US . Many cities across the country had legalized gambling in some form or another. New Orleans was a popular spot for casinos during this period because of its location in relation to the Mississippi River and its proximity to the US coastline.

Frenchmen also began to develop casinos around this time due to the relatively liberal laws regarding gambling in France at the time .

The Casino in the 20th Century

The 20th century saw several developments that greatly expanded the casino industry in the US . The first of these developments was the spread of electricity to power slot machines and other casino machines.

Other developments included numerous treaties and laws that regulated the interstate transportation of drugs such as heroin and methamphetamines . These drugs became popular among people who gambled in casinos because they helped calm their nerves after they had racked up a big loss at the casino.

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