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Casino History: How Your Favorite Casino Games Started

February 21, 2023
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Casino history is usually the last thing you consider when playing your favorite games. Most avid gamblers usually won’t care about how their favorite game came to be as long as they have a shot at winning big.

However, understanding how these casino staples came to be will give us a better appreciation of these entertaining games. Since these games have unique mechanics, understanding how they came to be will make your next games more fun.

This OKBET piece will focus on some of the most popular games and how they came to be. Let me get ahead and tell you that the stories behind these games are just as interesting as winning them!

Slot Machines: Made in New York

When you hear casinos, you immediately think of slot machines. They have become a symbolic icon of gambling culture. And like some of the best things in life, slot machines began in the United States.

This popular casino game got its name from the slot where players insert nickels into the slot to play. Charles Augustus Fey is credited as the first person to invent slot machines with automated payouts. While it wasn’t clear when the game came to be, he was believed to have created his first machine from 1887-1895.

Slot machines began appearing en masse in New York City around 1891. A company named Sittman and Pitt first created the gambling machine, which had five drums and 50 playing cards. Players got payouts in these Sittman and Pitt machines whenever they completed poker hands with every pull. 

Moreover, they automatically pay winning hands without having an attendant be ready to accommodate winning players. Aside from monetary rewards, some slot machines gave away free drinks and cigars. These reasons helped slot machines become American bar fixtures at the start of the 20th century.

Slot machines didn’t change much until more than fifty years later when the first electromechanical slot machines were introduced in 1964. Innovations continued to transform how slot machines looked. Now, we have fully digital slot machines that you can play in trusted online casinos.

Keno: A Game As Old As Time

Your eyebrows will rise if you learn your favorite casino games aren’t as old as time. While some seem to be played for longer than you’ve ever existed, these famous games were only introduced more recently.

This isn’t the case for keno, however. This casino game is one of the oldest in human history. Evidence points to the game existing for more than 2000 years. 

According to Britannica, the Chinese came up with the game, naming it baige piao or pai-ko p’iao, which meant “white pigeon ticket.” The name suggests that the game was originally played with homing pigeons, allowing players to participate across distances.

Baige piao started around the third century BCE, and many gambling houses throughout China participated in the practice. Some of the earnings were given to the province governor, who permitted these establishments to operate in his territory.

The tickets used in baige piao contained the first eighty characters of the Qianziwen, known in English as the Book of a Thousand Characters. The game is believed to be not only the predecessor of keno but also of lotteries and bingo.

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Baccarat: Imported by Marco Polo?

If you look at Macau casinos and online gambling websites, baccarat is always one of the most popular tables. Its simple rules and low house edge allow players to win more often than other casino games.

It’s easy to think that the game is a European invention, but studies suggest it is another product of Chinese innovation to introduce new and fun games.

According to UNLV’s Theodore Whiting, baccarat was possibly derived from the Chinese game Pai Gow, a non-card game similar to Mahjong. It’s believed that Pai Gow tiles arrived in Italy sometime after Marco Polo returned from China. Baccarat took its first shape in the late 13th to early 14th century.

However, other historians believe that the game’s origins are more Euro-centric and serious. There is a Roman ritual where a vestal virgin rolled a nine-sided die to have one of three fates: become a high priestess, have her status revoked, or die by drowning herself at sea.

Poker: Various Ancestors Claim Credit

The casino games we’ve listed in this piece feature clear histories where you can identify where one game came from. Surprisingly, poker is not a part of this list as it has a more unclear status regarding its origins.

Online casino fans will have different answers to the origin of this popular game. The response depends on the person you ask.

If you ask a Middle Eastern gambler, they will likely point to As Nas. It’s a Persian game where up to four players get five cards of varying ranks. The objective is similar to the game we all know, where the best hand wins.

However, casino historians recently rejected the link between the two games and suggested that poque is the closest relative of the game. This early poker iteration first gained traction in France in the 17th century and was brought to New Orleans by French immigrants.

Other games claiming credit for poker include Ireland’s poca, Britain’s brag, Spain’s primero, and Brelan, another French game.

Enjoy Your Favorite Casino Games Better

We hope this article on the history of these fun casino games gave you better knowledge and appreciation of the games you love playing. While they may not be able to help you win more games, they will help make future games more interesting. Moreover, they’ll be great conversation starters with other gambling enthusiasts.

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