Casino Game Origins: The History of Casino

From ancient tiles to digital thrills.

By GamesRecon

Gambling has been woven into the history of mankind for thousands of years. It has a long and intriguing timeline, extending from early gambling houses in the East to today’s modern casinos in the Western world.

We take an in-depth look at the origins of some of the world’s most popular and well-loved traditional casino games as well as the emergence of casino venues and online casinos, such as those found at, too.

The Origins of the Casino

There has been evidence of gambling in Ancient China. To understand how today’s modern casinos came about we must look all the way back to when gambling began. There is evidence to suggest that rudimentary gambling games were played on tiles in Ancient China from as far back as 2300 BC.

We know this because tiles have been unearthed and a book called Book of Songs, written in China, features these tiles and describes them in a way that suggests their use in a lottery-type game. It has even been theorized that the construction of the Great Wall of China was partially funded by a sort of lottery system.

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Card Games in China

China seems to have been ahead of other parts of the world in developing the types of gambling games we now see in casinos. From around 800 AD there is evidence that playing cards were used in games, as both the game and the stake. However, these cards were very different from the standard 52 deck of cards we use today and were more likely to have resembled dominos.

Baccarat in Europe

From around the 1400s, we began to see the emergence of certain gambling games in Europe. In Italy, there was the development of the two-person card game Baccarat. This was played by wealthier folk and soon spread to the nearby country France.

Different versions of the game have since developed over the years as it grew in popularity and was shared across the world. Baccarat is now played everywhere from Canada and the United States to Cuba and Brazil. People not only enjoy participating in but also spectating gameplay.

The Beginnings of Blackjack

Casino Card Game

The origins of the card game blackjack are hotly debated. Some believe that blackjack was first developed in Spain as the game Ventiuna (meaning 21) was referenced in Don Quixote in 1601. However, others compare it with the game Trente-un (31) played in France from 1570.

Nevertheless, it is widely accepted that blackjack was played in 1700s France under the name Vingt-et-Un (21). It was travelers from France who introduced the game to players in the United States and Canada around this time. It wasn’t formally given the name blackjack until it was played in the United States’ popular gambling city Las Vegas during the 1930s.

The Very First Casinos

Casinos are the home of gambling entertainment and thrill. The first casinos are thought to have been opened in Italy during the early 17th century. The Ridotto, which is often referenced as the first casino, was opened in Venice in 1638 to provide a formal place for players to gather in order to gamble.

Not long after, gambling houses began to pop up all across Europe. And by the 19th century, they were widely available and also popping up across North America.

In the US, steamboats transporting wealthy individuals along the Mississippi River became the home of gambling games. The famous Las Vegas strip then emerged at the tail end of the Great Depression.

Roulette Becomes Popular

Roulette is a French wheel-spinning casino game that originated in the glamorous capital city, Paris. It was the big casino in Monte Carlo that made the European roulette wheel popular while an American version of the game spread to many other parts of the world.

Today, you can find both European and American roulette wheels in modern casinos and online sites.

The First Virtual Casinos

Technology is a wonderful thing, and it was the development of the World Wide Web that made casino gaming as widely accessible as it is today. In the mid-1990s the very first online casinos were released on the internet.

These early virtual casinos were far more basic than today’s sites and lacked the range of games we enjoy today. However, players appreciated the ability to play games from their PC at the time that suited them from the convenience of home.

Casinos Go Mobile

Over the last couple of decades, mobile technology has come a long way and smartphones are now an essential piece of kit for much of the adult population. There is now an abundance of casino gaming apps and in-browser games that can be played on mobile, these games include virtual versions of traditional games like poker as well as recent innovations such as the bingo-slots hybrid slingo.