The History of Gambling

There’s something about the presence of large amounts of money that encourages people to try to cheat, steal or scam their way into a jackpot. That’s why casinos spend a lot of time, effort and money on security.

A casino is a place where a variety of games of chance are played, with gambling being the main activity. The modern casino has a wide range of amenities that help attract and keep customers, including restaurants, musical shows and free drinks. But no matter what the casino adds to the experience, it would not exist without the games of chance themselves. Slot machines, blackjack, roulette and other games of chance generate the billions in profits that casinos rake in every year.

Gambling almost certainly predates recorded history, with primitive protodice and carved six-sided dice found in ancient archaeological sites. But the idea of a centralized gambling house that offered various types of games under one roof didn’t appear until 1638 in Venice. Officially called a Ridotto, it was the first government-sanctioned gambling establishment and the first to be open to the general public.

After the legalization of gambling in Nevada in the 1950s, organized crime figures poured cash into Reno and Las Vegas. Mob money gave casinos a reputation for vice, and some mobster patrons even took sole or partial ownership of the properties and influenced the results of some games. In fact, the seamy side of gambling still exists today in some states, which allow sports betting at casinos and other locations.