The Oldest Poker Chips in History?
Gambling in the old days was a little different to your average trip to Vegas, with everything from rocks, sticks and bones being used as ‘chips’, but there is evidence of the first playing cards being used in China around the 9th Century AD. They then spread through Asia, and Mahjong tiles and dominos evolving later. Playing cards then traveled to Egypt and ultimately Europe in the 14th century, with a 52-card deck becoming standard at that time as well.
Modern Day Gambling: The Pioneers
By the 18th century, European lords were filling gambling dens playing games like the French game, Vingt et Un, an early form of Blackjack. The British, French, and Italians then developed what is now known as Poker. Both games, as well as Roulette, became popular in America when the early settlers arrived. One possibility surrounding poker is that is evolved from the German game, Pochen, meaning ‘to bluff’.
With settlers arriving from all over the world, playing a wild array of card games, dice and roulette in saloons and bars, and on riverboats across the United States, the games became part of the American psyche during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today many of the established games played in live and online casinos originated from those early pioneers.
“There are now hundreds of companies operating in countries around the world.”
The Arrival of the Casinos
The first slot machine was developed in the late 1800s, with three spinning reels and five symbols. Gamblers quickly saw the benefits of such machines, and they were being mass produced for saloons and corner markets in the early 1900s. As brick-and-mortar casinos became more and more popular, the range of games expanded, offering both traditional table and card games to the new slot machines, and casinos became what they are today - billion dollar businesses. From the Las Vegas to Macau, land-based casinos still pull in the gamblers and make fortunes.
Modern Day: The Online Gambling Boom
The first software developed to put gambling online came in 1994, with Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean the first nations to enact free trade agreements for online casinos. With those early deals, the stage was set for the billion-dollar digital industry we see in 2017.
The first online casino was launched in 1994, and two years later the first gaming commission was established in Canada by the Mohawks in the Kahnawake territory just outside Montreal. Slowly it began to issue gaming licenses to oversee the industry.
Regulation and the Future…
From 15 online gambling websites operating in 1996 to more than 200 one year later, the industry saw an immediate boom with the popularity of Internet gaming in countries around the world. Some nations began to regulate - or try to prohibit - the industry, but many (including the United States with its tempestuous gambling love/hate relationship) are still in the process of trying to determine what types of laws should allow, prohibit, regulate or tax the online gambling companies.
There are now hundreds of companies operating in countries around the world. In 2008, it was estimated that global gambling revenue was approximately $21 billion. With internet gambling getting more accessible and popular all the time, expect that figure to grow and grow.