A Brief History of Casino Games

Brief and history are not words that naturally complement each other, but we promise to keep it short, sweet, and action-packed as we take you on a quick tour of the history of online casino games. On top of getting to grips with the industry, this will also help you know what to look for in the best online casinos.

Ever wondered how online gaming became so huge- a market worth over 14 billion dollars in the UK alone (UKGC, 2018) and $449.3 billion worldwide in 2018 (Business Wire, 2019), or how the most popular casino games were created and have evolved?

The Evolution of Gambling, Gaming and Casinos

Gambling has been a feature of communities worldwide for thousands of years. Whether it’s been under the table, an exploit arranged by eager profiteers, artisans and skilled bookies looking to make money in the back streets of an ancient Chinese village, or in a modern-day brick and mortar casino with dealers, cocktails and class; it is an activity that we love, just cannot get enough of. It can be traced back throughout our history and it’s a fascinating tale with relics and ruins of ancient games and establishments popping up in every corner of the globe.


From the mysterious lands of Egypt, where man’s first dice was uncovered (dating back to 2,000BC), to the Roman Amphitheater and life or death stakes, or Chinese gambling houses (circa 200 BC), we have a long history of a love of money, gaming and gambling, and so do our governments. Huge tax revenues and investment from gambling make a major part of modern-day motivations for allowing and regulating gambling (just think of the national lottery profits or the fact that both Harvard and Yale were in part funded using state lottery money in the US- there’s a lot of incentive). This is why gambling is now a licensed, organised and regulated activity in most territories of the world, those where it is not, tend to lack the infrastructure to regulate the activity or disagree with it as practice. Governments and games producers alike know the huge potential of best maximizing this market and so it’s seen huge investment and has been rolled out for players -almost- everywhere.

The first brick and mortar casino, Ridotto, opened its doors in Venice, Italy, 1638 and began a global gambling movement, which trust us is definitely not brief. It may have taken till 1994 for online gambling to open the market to all with the establishment of the Antigua and Barbuda gambling jurisdiction and games software company, Microgaming, but slowly online casino games have become a global phenomenon worth billions in gross gambling yield yearly. Since then the innovation hasn’t stopped, providing entertainment and stakes on any device, at any time of the day or night and incredible bonus deals for players who sign up and play for real money.  

The Monumental Growth of the Mighty Slot Machine 

With a gross gambling yield of 2 billion dollars in the UK (UKGC, 2018), slots are one of the most profitable and player-loved areas of any online casino. They attract players in their droves and from the very first, 3-reeled, Liberty Bell Slot, invented by a car mechanic, Charley Frey in 1895, things have come a long way. Slot machines can now be divided by the following classifications Classic, Video or Jackpot Slot, each with its own characteristics and typical games design, but all offer a fairy-tale escape, new uncharted territory and awesome prizes. With fast-paced payouts, profits, bonus rounds, jackpots and more newly skill-based elements; Slots bring in millions of players every year and with each new release comes new excitement as slot technology is being developed more quickly than any other area of casino gaming. Look out for VR, AR and 3D slots as well as a move away from pure chance gambling to skill-based bonus levels and rounds, but the house-edge still represents more than with table games like Roulette, Blackjack and Poker. 


From Epic Table Games to Real-time Live Play

We all know and love the classics. Whether we’ve taken a seat at the tables and played or not, they are famous through film, book, popular culture and word of mouth. Blackjack, Roulette and Poker are undoubtedly the Kings of industry. The first playing cards are believed to have originated from China during the 9th century, whilst Blackjack harks back to Spain in the 1600s, Poker is claimed by the States in the 1800s, and Roulette by the French in 1655, these are classic games with rules generally set in stone and huge payouts on offer. The modern versions of table games remain much as we once knew and played them, with the exception of graduating to online platforms, available at any time of night or day, on any device and now as live casino games. Mixing modern tech and centuries-old, classic games, the live casino offers real-time action as games are played with live dealers via webcam and offer unbeatable table game action with the lowest house-edge in the casino (usually the house edge for table games is between 1-4%, whilst slots offer a house edge anywhere between 3-7%). Whilst innovation into this area of casino gaming is often incremental, but always in a positive sense and who’d want to mess with the Kings of casino gaming anyway- they’ve earned that title. 

Virtual Sports, Team and Social Gaming  

As the popularity of online gaming has soared, players have begun to realise that whilst playing online makes gaming more convenient, it has also taken away the community element, which has been reflected in playing habits. It’s not just gambling where online gaming has taken off, in every corner of the world people are playing online games that incorporate teamwork and social interaction, much like the days of gambling gone by, which were done face-to-face. From quests to team challenges, Counter Strikes, Dota 2, and tournaments, Virtual Sports, are quickly adapting to the modern demands of gamers and levelling the potential for a new realm of artisan social gambling. In 2018, Virtual Sports had a gross gambling yield of over 170 million dollars, roughly 8.5% of all revenue in 2017 for the UK- which was the first time this type of casino gaming was accounted for in UKGC data. This is pretty darn impressive stuff, making it one of the hottest and fastest growing areas of online casino gaming to get involved in. 


Is Blockchain the Future of Online Casino Gaming?

Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are revolutionising the internet and the way business and casinos operate online. Blockchain has been dubbed the next generation of gaming infrastructure, allowing for lower payment transactions, therefore, a lower house edge, instantaneous transactions and player dividends on profits at some new and up and coming casinos. Blockchain technology is also being used to develop new gaming systems- but for now, it’s a case of watch this space for how it affects the evolution of casino games!

Our relationship with casino games and gambling is intertwined in our history and has never been more popular than it is today as new technology, game types and social casino games make their mark on our lives and the way we play. There’s never been a better time to gamble then right now; the industry is alive with action, options, and cutting-edge innovations.