Gambling as a fun way to pass the time has been around since ancient times, and it’s not going to go away any time soon. There’s something in human nature that is always drawn to games of chance, and it’s interesting to see how the industry has developed.
The first records of gambling come from ancient Hindu poems, which were written over 2,000 years ago. One, known as the Gambler’s Lament, is thought to be between 3,000 and 3,500 years old. It describes how participating in gambling has ruined a man’s life – meaning that for as long as there has been gambling, there have been sore losers!
Most of the games played in casinos these days came from games of chance played around the world. Some games have lasted for centuries – for instance, craps, which might have originated around the time of the Crusades (1096 CE).
The first game that resembled bingo was played in Italy in 1530. The current layout comes from a French version of it, Le Lotto, that first emerged in 1778. Roulette wheels were also invented in France in the 1700s, with games of roulette being recorded from 1796.
However, many games currently played in casinos are much more modern. The precursor to slot machines was invented in New York in 1891 as a machine that randomly allocated a poker hand, but had no direct monetary payout.
Charles Fey of San Francisco is credited with inventing the first actual slot machine in 1899, known as the Liberty Bell: three drums, each of which had five symbols, would spin around and prizes were paid according to matches. By 1908 other people had started copying his idea, and slot machines were ubiquitous around the United States.
The first slot machine that ran completely without an attendant was invented in 1963 by Bally Manufacturing. Being fully electromechanical, it could pay out winnings automatically and helped pave the way for the popularity of electronic games. And in 1976, the first video slot machine was invented that dispensed of the drums entirely.
Multi-line slot machines have been gaining popularity since the 1990s, as they allow you to place bets on more than one different line. The more reels a machine has, the more possible paylines there are – up to 243 in some cases! Though, the more lines you want to bet on, the more it will cost you.
Recently, multi-denomination slot machines have started appearing in casinos too. These allow players to change the value of the credits they wager, and calculate the winnings based on the credits inserted.
The bulk of a casino’s revenue comes from slots, up from 40% in the 1970s to 70% in the 2000s.
The internet has also cashed in on the popularity of slots, and the digitisation of games is key in helping make them come alive to help increase participation. Apps move the whole experience into your pocket, allowing players to take part no matter where they are.
Future developments look set to see gambling move even further from its traditional casino roots. Mobile apps and virtual reality casinos may be the new frontier of gambling. But however you play, remember to do it responsibly, and have fun!