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Casino Game Evolution: Historical Roots to Modern Online Gameplay

888casino is the brainchild of tech ingenuity, with operations officially kicking off in 1997. But the history of casino games spans millennia. Indeed, mankind's history is peppered with evidence of gambling. This inextricable connection goes back thousands of years, with abundant evidence of gambling activity across cultures.

A fondness for risk and reward is innately human. Whenever groups of people gather in numbers, there's always the chance that a gambling-style game may get top billing. This has been going on for aeons. Today, we will explore the origin of casino games, from ancient times to modern-day marvels. 

Of course, this is as broad a topic as one might imagine. It's peppered with the brushstrokes of creative genius, ingenuity, and a penchant for good old-fashioned fun.

Perhaps 2300 BC is an excellent place to start. We have already established that gambling-style activity dates back to the inception of mankind. Funnily enough, Adam and Eve took a gamble when they picked the forbidden fruit from the tree in the Garden of Eden. Let’s see what’s happened since!

2300 BC – Gambling Kicks off in Earnest

And so, it begins! Evidence of gambling activity emanates from ancient Chinese lands, where historic artifacts reveal references to gambling in the form of wood drawings.

This was showcased in the Chinese Book of Songs. The Chinese have a long history with lottery-style games, the bedrock of modern-day gambling games. Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ, evidence of Keno slips were found, ostensibly also used for funding construction of the Great Wall of China.

500 BC – Ancient Rome With Its Penny on the Plate

It is said that mythological characters invented dice games during the siege of Troy. Writings from around 500 BC mentioned dice games as part of Greek history. However, archaeological evidence suggests that dice games existed many hundreds of years, perhaps even thousands of years before this. Rumor has it that the ancient Egyptians buried a pair of dice in the tombs of the Pharaohs around 3000 BC.

We know with absolute certainty that gambling games were forbidden in ancient Rome, and it is said that the penalty for being caught with gambling games was 400% of the stake.

Aggressive gambling laws gave rise to the much-vaunted casino chip. If caught, gamblers would simply present casino chips with no cash value as evidence of non-gambling activity. Naturally, casino chips have a real cash value in gambling establishments the world over today.

800 A.D. Card Games in China

The Chinese are fabulous gamblers and have been for thousands of years. Gambling experts concur that the first playing cards materialized in mainland China during the ninth century.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain specific rules of play used at the time, but evidence suggests that the Chinese played paper-style domino games. The standard 52-car deck we know and love today was certainly worlds apart from one the Chinese players of yesteryear were using.

1400s– 1600s – Baccarat & Blackjack

As far as casino games go, baccarat reigns supreme. Here is an age-old game relished among players as much today as it was 600 years ago.

Baccarat is a rudimentary game with fascinating rules. Players can effectively bet on three potential outcomes – The Player, Banker, or Tie bet. It's impossible to bust in baccarat since any value over nine automatically has the 10s digit removed. A game of choice for high rollers, this casino card game originated in Italy and France, dating back to the 1400s.

The baccarat of the 1400s was markedly different from the games we play at casinos and online casinos today. A significant evolution took place with the game, ultimately creating a modern-day marvel that casual players and high rollers alike now enjoy.

Rumor has it that today's baccarat games originated in Cuba, Great Britain, and the United States. Incidentally, there is minimal engagement between players and their cards in baccarat. It's simply placing a bet on one of the three options – no touching necessary.

Blackjack routinely trumps the opposition in terms of casino card games. As one of the world's great casino card games, blackjack is a fusion of strategy-based play and chance.

The objective of this centuries-old game is to craft a winning hand total. This is done by beating the dealer's hand without exceeding 21. It is said that blackjack originates from the Spanish game Ventiuni, which literally translates to 21. As far back as 1601, the legendary game was referenced by Don Quixote – the fictional character.

But among blackjack historians, there remains a great debate. The origins of this ancient game can be traced back to the Spanish and the French, although no clarity exists. Historical records indicate that the modern-day game of blackjack has roots in the French game Vingt-et-un.

As mass migration from Europe to the Americas started, various groups brought Blackjack-style casino card games to the United States. Of course, the name is attributed to Nevada-based casinos offering special promotions for players hitting a Black Jack (clubs or spades) plus the Ace of Spades.

1638 – The Ridotto Casino Opens in Venice

The 17th century was a time of change across Europe, particularly Italy. Around 1638, the first casino opened in Venice, a.k.a. the Ridotto Casino.

It wasn't long before casinos started popping up in cities across Europe. The United States was a lot more conservative in this regard. There were unofficial gambling dens – gambling houses – at saloons, and places of ill repute.

The casinos of yore gave rise to the sprawling mega-casinos that festoon the Las Vegas Strip and surrounds today.

1796 - The Birth of Roulette

Unlike blackjack, which has doubtful origins, Roulette is unabashedly French. Known as the little wheel, the game of Roulette is fascinating beyond compare. It originated in Paris – thanks to Blaise Pascal - but took half a century before it boldly traversed the Atlantic into the American heartland.

Several versions of Roulette have appeared over the years, notably European Roulette, with a house edge of 2.7%; French Roulette, with a house edge as low as 1.35%; and American Roulette, with a house edge of 5.26%. Of course, these notable differences are attributed to the rules and the 00 in American Roulette.

Over the past 200-plus years, Roulette's star began burning brightly. It was revered at the world-famous casino in Monaco, the Monte Carlo, where the single-zero roulette version was played. The European roulette version dominated the scene for many years and still does to a large degree.

American Roulette is a hot favorite in the United States and Canada, although the house edge routinely gives players pause. Nonetheless, there has been a dramatic and unprecedented sea of change with Roulette. With scores of variants readily available to players, each version offers something exciting to fans.

The 1800s Onward – Poker and Slots Arrive on the Scene

No history of casino games is complete without at least a passing reference to the fabulous game of poker. Around 1829, mention was made of a poker-style French game known as Poque. There remains significant debate about the origins of poker, but evidence suggests that it was played around 1829 in New Orleans.

It wasn't until top-tier poker tournaments emerged that the game was taken seriously. Today, there are scores of incredible poker tournaments such as the WSOP (World Series of Poker), WPT (World Poker Tour), and the ANZPT (Australia New Zealand Poker Tour), to name but a few. Thanks to legends like Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, and Chris Moneymaker – poker is here to stay. 

It remains the ranking strategy-based casino card game – neck and neck with blackjack – among players. An explosion of interest in the game catapulted it into the stratosphere with online poker, but that's a story for another time.

And now, it's time to introduce the most famous casino games of all – slots. The veritable slot machine game was invented by Charles August Fey in San Francisco in 1894. Known as the Liberty Bell, this rudimentary slot was years ahead of its time. These mechanical devices – one-armed bandits – were revered by players across the region.

Old-school slot machine games featured a limited number of reels and symbols. These were known as classic slots, with fruit symbols. Other symbols on old-school slot games include bars, bells, cherries, and other delicious attractions.

There have been dramatic strides in the development of slot machine games over the years, as evidenced by the rapid shift from mechanical to video slots, and now online slots are governed fully by sophisticated algorithms and digital artistry.

Recall that the Liberty Bell was the very first slot machine ever created. Nowadays, there are very few – if any - one-arm bandits, except at museums or in limited supply at premier casinos around the world today. Everything is digital, replete with jingling-jangling sounds, hyperactive visuals, and the intensity and appeal of an energised Las Vegas casino.

The Birth of Online Gaming – A Giant in Our Midst

Few would argue that online casino games are growing at a rate of knots. Nowhere is this more evident than right here at 888 Casino UK. With thousands of games from scores of suppliers, it's a veritable Candy Land of adult casino entertainment.

However, it certainly wasn't always that way. Our own story kicked off in 1997 but it had been years in the making before then. The birth of the Internet gave wings to virtual gaming, or online gaming. However, you prefer.

The Internet is quite literally the game changer in this equation. It allows players, operators and casino game suppliers to function smoothly in a realm where no physical presence is required. The first casino kicked off in the 1990s, and scores more followed suit quickly. Dial-up Internet became broadband Internet, and now it's 5G telecommunications capabilities. 

Ultimately, there is no limit to the levels of connectivity and instant-play gaming satisfaction available to players. Among the player favourites, online slot games dominate, followed closely by video poker, Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, Pai Gow, Teen Patti, live dealer games, and more.

We can thank many world-class casino game suppliers for the online gaming boom. Among them are Microgaming, Playtech, Dragonfish (Section8 Studio), Play' N GO, NetEnt, and scores of others. It’s because of these game providers, players at home and on the go are able to enjoy a deluge of world-class casino games. This includes every conceivable themed slot game imaginable, card games, table games, and other games. At 888, we constantly push the boundaries, bringing new gaming sensations directly to your screen.

Slots dominate the scene with an overwhelming 60%-plus market share of all games played online and in person. And this is likely thanks to the rollicking success of mobile casino games. New Jersey was the first US state to legalize online casino gambling. It didn't take long for Android and iPhone players to take their casino games on the go. 

Thanks to generous bonuses and promotional offers, many more players are enticed to start playing than ever before. Online casino games are boosted by cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). These frontiers are only in their infancy stages. Watch this space, there’s a lot more in store. 

The Casino World Is Growing Rapidly!

In 2023, we witnessed an extraordinary event in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the inaugural F-1 Las Vegas Grand Prix. An entire race track was constructed on the Las Vegas Strip. Thousands of fans flocked to Las Vegas, populated the hotels on the Strip, and spent the dollars during the F1 meet. 

This is the nature of gambling-related activity in the United States, and globally. Naturally, virtual gaming comes with cybersecurity challenges, and players routinely tweak their accounts to ensure safe gaming with their preferred operator. 

Every virtual session, and every digital creation is a brushstroke of genius. We have exceptional talent working hard behind the scenes to ensure that the audiovisual entertainment before your eyes is nothing short of a tour de force in casino fun. Enjoy responsibly and relish the opportunities ahead.




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