How Have Casinos Evolved as Entertainment Centers?

black and white photograph of three men and two women playing poker

Technology has been the vehicle for the evolution of countless industries – everyday life is scattered with examples, ranging from Uber in transport to AirBnB in accommodation. Even casino entertainment has taken on new life numerous times, at the hands of technology.

Half the fun of welcoming the future of casinos is revisiting their history too. Read on to find out more.

Perhaps, we should probably issue a disclaimer:

Knowledge is power. However, as far as gambling and casino entertainment is concerned, knowing more of casino history won’t give you an edge in a high stakes casino poker game. Not by a long shot. At best, a greater understanding of the history of casinos will grant you an air of wisdom among your gambling crew, and appreciation, but not much else. In any case, sit back, relax, sip some coffee and join us for a stroll down gambling’s memory lane. We’ll also peer into the future and see what might be on the horizon for modern casinos.

5 Things that Encouraged the Evolution of Gambling and Casino Games

A laptop with multiple casino games popping out of the screen

It wasn’t just technology that spearheaded and inspired the continuous evolution of gambling and casino games. On the contrary, there are a host of different factors that have played the part, including the desire for more entertainment.

First and foremost, the casino games are more about entertainment than actually winning money. Perhaps, it is one of the reasons behind their popularity.

  • Desire for Variety

Online casinos like BetMGM offer classic table games, card games, and casino slots favorites. Recognizing the appreciation of variety and choice in casino games, developers have challenged themselves to offer innovative iterations of the classics using clever designs, bonuses, rewards, and themes to captivate their gambling audiences. As developers have challenged the boundaries of gaming, casinos with a client-focus have evolved alongside them.

  • Instant Gratification

Very rarely is the need for instant gratification considered a good thing and yet, it is in part responsible for encouraging the progression of innovation. Our now inherent need to have access to everything right here, right now, all the time has forced innovators to shorten the distance between the casino experience and gamblers. Seldomly will you find an industry or company that doesn’t have a secure digital presence in today’s world, and rightly so.

  • The Desire for Greater Convenience

We alluded to this earlier but the tale of the times is that a trip to the casino is no longer a luxury occurrence; it’s a realistic choice for just about anyone and everyone. What’s more, less time and arguably money are now being spent on making the casino experience possible. There is no longer a need for gas, the perfect outfit, accommodation and ample time to make the trip to and from a brick-and-mortar casino thanks to the advent of online casinos. Now, with just a few screen presses or finger clicks you can travel from one casino to the next, make real money or play any number of variations of the best card games.

  •  The Advancement of Technology

As technology advances, opportunities for improvement become clearer and more apparent. The same can be said for gambling where the realization that technology could help reach a wider audience gave rise to internet-based casinos. These technological innovations improve accessibility and availability, and also the design and quality of entertainment. The evolution of gambling has arguably hastened but most of all it is very unlikely to slow down too.

  •  Attention’s New Residence

Where the attention of the majority of people rests is usually the direction in which technology will continue to evolve. Casinos are no different and it’s no news to casinos or developers that it is frighteningly rare to find someone without access to a smartphone, computer or tablet. Considering this high level of attention and engagement, it only makes sense that casinos evolved to be present where the attention of mankind resides. Casinos with a physical presence still exist for those who enjoy socializing and the more authentic human connection but for success in the gambling industry mobile and online casino gaming is a must.

Where It All Began: Tiles and White Pigeon Tickets

6 white and black dice bouncing in a dark atmosphere on a wooden surface.

While the idea of the earliest traces of gambling and casino games might conjure up images in our heads that resemble an episode of the Flintstones, history demonstrates something quite different. Sadly, there was no human-dinosaur collaboration but the earliest evidence of gambling that has been unearthed was traced back to Ancient China. This evidence comes in the form of tiles that were likely used for basic games of chance.

There is also evidence in the form of keno slips, dating back to about 200BC. Keno originates from a Chinese game called “baige piao” which translated means “white pigeon ticket”. This refers to the use of tickets and homing pigeons in a betting game. Keno slips were used in a form of lottery to finance civil works. This would later be repeated throughout history with both Harvard and Yale serving as popular examples of projects funded by lotteries.

Rome and a Roll of the Dice

Depending on where your beliefs lie, Sophocles, the Greek Poet’s 500BC claim that dice were invented by a hero of mythic proportions during the battle of Troy might seem somewhat farfetched. Regardless, his mentioning of dice can be credited with being the first in Greek history.

It is also true that dice have been proven to have existed far before this time in Ancient Egypt but we’re talking about undeniable evidence in the realm of gambling and casino games. One thing we know is that the Ancient Greeks and Romans had an appetite for gambling. Rome, in particular, forbid gambling and any unfortunate soul caught partaking in such (dice games included) would suffer a penalty that was four times the value of the stakes. Cue the ingenuity of the Romans who then invented chips. These chips acted as a cover so that if they were caught, they could simply claim they were not playing for real money.

China Deals the First Hand

The consensus among scholars is that the first playing cards originated from China. Where there might be some debate is around the rules of the games. Some assume that the cards were used for play as well as the stake – think Pokemon cards if you must. Other scholars suggest that these cards functioned as paper forms of Chinese dominoes. It’s still a mystery but one thing seems certain, China dealt the first hand.

Baccarat: An Old Favorite is Born

Still a gambler’s favorite, Baccarat was first mentioned in the 1400s when it crossed borders from Italy to France. Multiple iterations of Baccarat have come and gone but the casino card game we have all come to know and love in the US originated from Cuba, by way of Britain. Today, it’s virtually impossible to find a casino that doesn’t have one form or another of what is now one of the best card games we know.

More Origin Stories Than Marvel: The Many Beginnings of Blackjack

Some are under the impression that the earliest forms of blackjack originated from a Spanish game called ventiuna which means 21. The reasoning behind this is that this game was referenced in a book written in 1601 – the author also wrote Don Quixote. That isn’t the only suggested origin. Others say one of the most recognized and best card games was birthed in France in games known as trente-un (31) in 1570 or quinze even earlier.

Unfortunately, the inventors of these games are and will most likely remain anonymous in history since there are scarcely any records of the creators of these games of chance. 17th century vingt-et-un (21), the French game, is undoubtedly a predecessor of the modern casino game we all know as blackjack.

The name “blackjack” actually came from a series of special promotions held during the 1930s in Nevada. These promotions were designed to attract more customers by offering 10 to 1 odds if a player won with a black Jack of Clubs or Spades together with an Ace of Spades. These odds didn’t last but the name certainly stuck. We’re glad it did and can’t imagine it any other way.

Pizza and the First Modern Casino

Photograph of Venice during the end of sunset

Italy isn’t just the birthplace of pizza; history’s first gambling houses can be traced back to early 17th century Italy. These gambling houses are arguably the first modern casinos. While it’s common for us to envision the Las Vegas strip emerging from the aftermath of the Great Depression, in 1638, the Ridotto was established in Venice. The Ridotto was an island of calm, a controlled and organized gambling environment that floated among the chaotic waves of excitement that is characteristic of the annual carnival season.

Rolling on with Roulette in Paris – 1796

Believe it or not, the roulette we know casually refer to as the American Roulette wheel today was born in the gaming houses of Paris. It wouldn’t be for another half-century that the European version (with just one green zero) would grace us with its presence. During the19th century, the renowned Monte Carlo casino adopted this single zero form of the game which consequently spread across Europe and the globe. Here in America, we stuck with the original double-zero wheels.

The Racetrack and Beyond

In 1845, all types of gambling were then restricted to the racetrack. This was due to the law that restricted public card games where the stakes would be money. Naturally, the bookies then broadened their approach to include other sports instead of just the races. Pen and paper were the mediums for bookmakers who could be found in the markets or backstreets before they later moved into shops.

Casino Slots Arrive in the Big Apple

Messts Sittman is credited with the invention of the first gambling machine- which wasn’t a far departure from the casino slots we are used to seeing today. The first gambling machine used the 52 cards on drum reels and allowed users to play a poker game of sorts. At roughly the same time, Charles Fey’s Liberty Bell machine was invented in San Francisco. Proving to be more practical than its counterpart, it regulated winnings and ushered in the casino slots game revolution.

Next time you happen to be playing slots and notice bells, remember that the Liberty Bell machine is where these symbols were first seen. These prototypes gifted users with cigars and gum as opposed to money but soon enough more advanced models dispensing money hit the market and could be found in bars and casinos worldwide.

A row of casino slots with lots of different color lights in a dimly lit casino

Gambling’s Internet Revolution

In 1994, gambling broke new ground with Microgaming leading the revolution. Renowned as the largest casino and casino slots games developers, they pioneered online casinos and gambling. The market responded well and within a mere 5 years, online gaming was already worth over a billion dollars.

Come One, Come All

By 1998, adoption of the internet was well underway and with it the realization by bookmaking firms that online betting was not only a viable pursuit but a necessary one. It marked the launch of online bingo and poker far and wide. 2003 saw the appearance of the first live dealer casino courtesy of Playtech. This brought us ever closer to where we are today.

Gambling Goes on the Move

Today, gamblers and casino veterans are frequenting brick-and-mortar casinos less often and are even veering away from being fixed in front of their desktops. Now, more and more gamblers are going mobile and can be found playing online via their handheld devices. With an impressive array of games ranging from table games to casino slots and card games from online casinos like BetMGM, it’s no wonder that the uptake has been a smooth one.

Where It May All Go

Considering the rate of evolution we’ve just experienced, we can only dream of what lies on the horizon for the casino industry. The modern casino experience seems to be edging towards virtual reality. The notion of virtual reality is not a new one but its masterful execution in gaming is still very much underway. In the not-so-distant future, we may be able to have poker nights at the same virtual table as friends dispersed around all four corners of the world. What’s more, it won’t be of the current online casino variety, we’ll be able to pick up on tells and read facial expressions as if we are all in the same physical space.

At the moment, we are already experiencing this evolution of online casino gaming with the advent of live dealer casino games. This is a giant leap forward towards full immersion and interaction.

We’re willing to bet on the future of gambling and modern casinos. They’re already at the forefront of entertainment – entertainment that promises the opportunity to win real money.

Contemporary casinos and Modern Casino Design

Today’s list of casino games may seem endless, so you might be wondering what to do at a casino besides gamble, especially if casinos are supposedly entertainment centers in today’s world.

Well, the possibilities are arguably as limitless as the list of casino games available to you now. In many cases, once you check in to the casino hotel, you will have access to spas, pools, shows, bars, shopping and a host of different attractions. A stunning example of extravagant experiences that you will remember fondly are those offered by MGM casinos and resorts. From fine dining to golf, spas, and entertainment there is no shortage of things to do.

Whether celebrity performances, tribute shows, or comedy acts are your thing, or a night out at Level One Cocktail Bar and Lounge or Premier NIghtclub is your vibe, you can always expect the casino of your choosing to have a calendar full of experiences alongside a variety of table games, casino slot machines, and card games.

Get a Front Row Seat to the Future of Gambling

Red velvet front row seats with 2 seats embroidered with the word reserved

Without a doubt, the entertainment value of casinos whether online, brick-and-mortar or virtual will continue to soar. As a player, you will want access to a casino that is constantly seeking to give players the best experience possible as technology continues to inspire the evolution of casino entertainment.

BetMGM, a New Jersey Online Casino, is your leading destination for a real money online casino in the USA with a brick-and mortar-casino equivalent. We cater to all casino thrill-seekers, aficionados, and hobbyists. A testament to our continuous pursuit of excellence is the pedigree of the list of casino games we offer. We offer only the best card games on the market, designed by the industry’s foremost developers who keep up with trends driven by technological advancement.

Don’t know what to do at a casino? Don’t worry. At BetMGM, you’ll be spoilt for choice and have access to a host of the most advanced casino table games and casino slot games. We’ll make sure you don’t miss out on today’s most coveted casino experiences, especially when it comes to poker online.

Our site is comprehensively safe and secure. If you come across any issues, our customer service team is here to help you 24/7.