Exploring Baccarat’s Global Appeal

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Baccarat table surrounded by casino chips with a digital globe projected from an electronic tablet screen
BetMGM Jan 19, 2024, 7:29 AM

Baccarat is one of the world’s most popular casino games online, but is equally favored by players at brick-and-mortar venues. Read on to discover the reasons behind its global appeal and learn about what the future might hold for the game.

Introduction to Baccarat

Modern baccarat is a fast-paced game that’s easy to understand and offers bets with a low house edge. What’s more, as any beginner’s guide to baccarat gambling will tell you, the dealer does all of the work for you. All you need to do is pick which hand you think will win. 

With all of that in mind, it’s not hard to see why so many people enjoy playing the game. But the standout feature always seems to be how easy it is to get involved. Depending on where you play, there may be some interesting side bets to try. But at its heart, baccarat is extremely simple.

However, this wasn’t always the case.

Early Origins

The precise origins of baccarat aren’t known, but the best estimates suggest it emerged during the 1400s in Italy. The word is believed to have been derived from the Italian word “baccara,” meaning “zero.” Given that so many of the cards are worth zero, this certainly seems like a plausible explanation for the name. It’s probably based on pai gow, a similar game that originated in ancient China.

Baccarat would have moved to France during the latter part of the century due to the Franco-Italian War. Its subsequent popularity with French royals and aristocrats helped to cement the game’s association with style and sophistication. Travelers then took baccarat to England, where it eventually spread to the American continent.

The version played in France is called chemin de fer. A simplified version of baccarat would also soon evolve, which we now know as punto banco. Francis ‘Tommy’ Renzoni is widely credited as the person responsible for bringing the game from Cuba to Las Vegas. Here, it would become the preferred form of baccarat, inspiring other casinos around the world to adopt it, too.

Baccarat’s Popularity Around the World

It’s clear that people have been playing baccarat, or at least some extremely similar game, for centuries. And as our ancestors moved around the globe, they naturally took their favorite pastimes with them. 

The game has not only stood the test of time, but has clearly survived and thrived across different cultures, too.

Baccarat in France

Given its long-standing connection with this part of Europe, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that baccarat is still popular in France today. There are hundreds of casinos in the country, many of them with rich histories, and you’ll find baccarat tables in every one. 

Monte Carlo, in neighboring Monaco, will forever be associated with glamorous casinos. These go hand in hand with baccarat, and it’s hard not to picture elegantly dressed players in luxurious surroundings. This principality sits between France and Italy, two of the most influential countries in the game’s development. So it makes perfect sense that it would remain as popular as ever in this part of the world. 

Baccarat in Asia

Although the history of baccarat is rooted in Europe, Asia is where the game has truly blown up in modern times. Singapore and Macau are both notable gambling hubs on the continent, but you’ll find people enjoying the game everywhere, from the Philippines to India.

Figures from Macau show that almost 90% of casino revenue came from this one specific game. Considering that we’re talking about more than $33 billion worth of profit, that’s an incredible amount of turnover at the baccarat tables. 

Much of this is down to super high-rollers, often from mainland China, who are known to play between $100,000 and $500,000 per hand. But baccarat is just as popular with the average player. Most casinos in this part of the world are chock-full of baccarat tables as a result, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

Baccarat in the U.S.A.

Las Vegas was the undisputed king of casinos for many years, but Macau surpassed it in terms of revenue back in 2006. However, it’s still a multi-billion-dollar business in its own right. And while baccarat has its place, it’s still nowhere near as popular as slots, roulette, and blackjack.

That said, there are still more than 350 tables dotted around the Strip, responsible for around $1.25 billion worth of bets in 2018. But it’s mostly visiting Asian players hitting these tables when visiting well-known resorts like the MGM Grand. Whenever there’s a dip in tourism, we also see baccarat revenues nosedive.

Casinos have made real efforts to boost the game’s popularity, though. Innovations like no-commission tables and the emergence of mini-baccarat have helped, not to mention interesting side bets and bonuses that can offer sizable returns with odds of up to +7,000. 

Designers are also building progressive jackpots into their baccarat games, with winners receiving the entire prize pool, rather than just a fraction. These developments are already live in Washington, at the MGM National Harbor Hotel & Casino, among other places.

Baccarat in Canada

In neighboring Canada, online gambling has seen a real surge in recent years. In fact, the industry is projected to be worth $5.2 billion by 2027. However, as a rule, Canadians prefer to play lotteries to casino games.

In 2018, casino table games only accounted for between 5–10% of all gambling activities. Lottery games, on the other hand, were responsible for 48–55% of all betting in the country. 

It’s expected that this will change as the popularity of online casinos continues to grow. And with that comes the possibility of online baccarat introducing a whole new generation of players to the famous and historic game.

Be Part of the Baccarat Boom

Baccarat is extremely popular all over the world. Although it’s not the number-one game of choice for every player in the U.S., its appeal is certainly on the rise. 

If you’d like to give it a try and be part of the boom, register to play baccarat online at BetMGM today. If you’re looking for more games to flex your gambling muscle, take your pick from hundreds of engaging slots, variety games, and blackjack tables.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.