There’s far more to gambling than just bets and lucky outcomes. From a cultural viewpoint, gambling is a worldwide pastime with a rich heritage of long-standing casino traditions. It’s an entire lifestyle for many people, playing a major role in popular culture and bringing the excitement of games of chance to keen bettors for centuries.
Gambling in the world of modern conveniences is constantly evolving. Online casino games and smartphones brought the world of gaming on-the-go and live dealers can now host virtual card games from hundreds of miles away. But where did it all start? What are some of the oldest traditional casino games from around the world and how have they remained popular for so long?
Rewind the clock and explore some of the most well-recognized gambling traditions, unearthing the timeless elements that have allowed these traditions to thrive along the way.
Secrecy and Superstitions
As a nation enamored by fortune, fate and mysticism, China is no stranger to games of chance. Gambling has been illegal in the country since the early 1900s, though, despite a long history of prolific gambling in casino games like fan-tan and sic bo.
So, how are Chinese citizens able to support one of the biggest gambling markets in the world? There are two national lotteries that aren’t considered forms of gambling, but the vast majority of revenue ultimately comes from Macau and Hong Kong.
While there are some forms of gambling legal in Hong Kong, Macau is far less restricted and the biggest hub for gambling in the world, with annual revenue figures as much as three times higher than Las Vegas. Still, the act of gambling remains a hush-hush affair if you’re from the Mainland, giving rise to a culture of secrecy and superstitions.
For example, many Chinese players won’t enter a casino through the main entrance, regarding it as a threshold that alters the odds. Some will take being touched on the shoulder as a surefire sign of bad luck, while others might avoid specific numbers associated with disaster.
Superstitions can be weird traditions but it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. Seeing as it’s up to “the fates” to decide, they make it easier to accept random outcomes and focus on the fun. When that’s combined with responsible gambling habits and fair regulation, all that’s left are fun-filled entertainment and the thrill of betting.
Pachinkos and Pokies
Japan and Australia have some of the fastest-growing gambling sectors in the world, thanks to stable economies and disposable income to spare. The most popular casino games in both countries are slots and card games, but each nation has come up with its own take on traditional casino games.
In Australia, “pokies” refers to poker machines, slot machines and other arcade games where you can play for money. Signs on the road point to pokie hotspots where you can pop in and play a few games mid-journey. With over half the population gambling regularly, recreational betting is clearly tied to many lifestyles in Australia.
On the other hand, Japan is renowned for its pachinko machines. Combining pinball with slots, pachinko games entice players through alluring gameplay and eye-catching themes. Casino traditions and pachinko parlors generate significant revenue for the country, making them invaluable contributors to Japan’s economic strength and stability.
Irish Horse Racing
Compared to its population per head, there are more racecourses in Ireland than in any other country. There are 26 official tracks hosting events that draw bettors from all over the nation, from the Irish Derby and Champion Stakes to the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas.
Ireland’s stables and training facilities rival the best in the world and Irish-bred horses are famous for big wins, even temperaments and consistent performances. Racehorses are cherished by their owners as prized investments, leading to some of the most successful Thoroughbred operations in history.
Skilled horsemanship is passed down through generations, but the limestone soil of the land truly sets Irish horses apart from the rest. Calcium-rich feed enhances bone growth and improves foal health, resulting in the highly sought-after, world-renowned pedigree horses of today.
Freedom of Choice
As far as traditional casino games go, the US introduced several of the most popular gambling games to the rest of the world. Native Americans have a rich gambling history tied to cultural and religious ceremonies and the country has provided legal betting options for residents since the colonial era.
Some of the best casino designs can be found in the US, from sprawling resort casinos in Las Vegas to the tallest tower in Mississippi. Many of the biggest card tournaments in the world take place in Vegas and online sports betting is nearly a national pastime at this point. In fact, the US has the highest gross wins out of any gambling country.
Compare that to the UK, where land-based casinos are far fewer in number. And although horse racing and greyhound racing draw substantial crowds in Great Britain and Northern Island, it’s modern casino favorites such as online poker, roulette, blackjack and slots that have grown the region’s revenue the most in recent years.
When you’re playing popular games like roulette with an online casino, for example, every step of the process is regulated through strict legislation. The benefit is that it’s easy to verify the legitimacy of online casinos, ensuring that games only provide high-quality entertainment entirely safe for players to enjoy.
Despite experiencing vastly different trajectories, the UK and the US have grown gambling into thriving industries. With the correct laws and legislation in place, both countries have created gambling empires where fun is the name of the game and traditions can be enjoyed responsibly.
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