A Brief History of Gambling and the Origins of Slot Machines

Gambling is big business in the United States. Billions of dollars are spent each year by customers who enjoy gambling. Because gambling is such a lucrative business, and provides state and local economies with lots of extra revenue, gambling is legal in some form in 48 out of 50 states. If you love to gamble, you may wonder how gambling got started. Additionally, we would like to go over slot machines and how they got started. Here is a brief history of gambling in the United States.

Where Gambling Began

Historians believe that gambling is nearly as old as humankind. There are records of gambling in ancient Middle Eastern cultures. In fact, dice games were played in Mesopotamia over 3000 years ago with six-sided dice. The Ancient Romans loved to gamble, and placed bets on chariot racing as well as animal fighting matches.

The Chinese gambled on a popular numbers game called fan-tan that is still played today in casinos in Asia and Las Vegas. In fan-tan, people bet on numbers in a square. The dealer empties a mix of beans, coins and other objects onto a table, and continues to remove objects until a small number is left. The game is very fast, which is why it is so popular. Fan-tan has been played in Asia for over 2000 years.

Card games and roulette games became popular in Europe as early as the 1400s. Gambling palaces were very common in France and Italy. Card games, which originated in China around 900 BC, came to Europe via tradesmen on the Silk Road. As buyers and sellers exchanged goods such as spices, silk and metal goods, they also exchanged gambling games. While historians aren’t sure what the Chinese used gambling cards for, European card faces revolved around royalty names: kings, queens and jokers all represent people who were in royal courts. Jacks represented noblemen such as an earl or a duke. All face cards today used in European and American gambling show men and women in court dress that was common in Europe in the 1500 and 1600s.

The oldest known game played at casinos is baccarat. The original game of baccarat had two players. In baccarat, players are trying to create a better hand than the banker. Members of the audience are allowed to bet on the outcome of the two-person game. It can be a difficult game to play, and it takes some skills. It is still played in many casinos in Europe and the United States today, because many high rolling gamblers love to play it.

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Early Casinos & Gambling

In Italy, people would come together to gamble and have fun during the Carnival season, which was the 40 days between Epiphany (or Three Kings Day) and the beginning of the Lenten season. Because people had to give up parties during Lent, which was used to fast and pray before Easter, they did a lot of partying and traveling before Lent occurred. In large cities in Italy, such as Rome and Venice, the kingdom set up gambling houses for people to gamble and have a good time. As the years passed, the leaders in both Italy and France decided to leave the casinos open all of the time, and not just during Lent.

Many popular casino games were created during this time in Europe. The roulette wheel was invented in France during the late 18th century. People loved to bet on which numbers would come up on a spinning wheel. Blackjack was also invented during this time period, and both roulette and blackjack remain popular games at casinos today.

Poker in Casinos

Historians argue that the origins of poker are from the Middle East or from Europe, but the first time poker as a standalone game was reported was in New Orleans in the 1830s. Poker was the first uniquely American casino game, with different varieties played such as Texas Hold’Em. Poker games were very popular at saloons in the American West. Although poker is extremely popular now, it didn’t really explode in casinos until poker tournaments began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many Americans love to play in both online and onsite poker tournaments for the chance to strike it rich. In 2003, an amateur poker player won the largest poker tournament in the United States, which only served to ramp up the dreams of many poker lovers.

Slot Machines

Like poker, the slot machine was invented in the United States, and it has become the most popular game at casinos around the world. The slot machine was invented at nearly the same time on the East Coast and West Coast. The Liberty Bell slot machine used bell symbols as a payout. Players pulled the arm of the machine, put their nickels in, and hoped for a payout. The largest payout at the time the Liberty Bell slot machine was invented was ten nickels–not exactly a jackpot by today’s standards. Other versions of the slot machine spit out gum, cigars, and small toys.

Slot machines have progressed from simple, small payouts to huge progressive jackpots. The largest slot machine payout ever happened in Las Vegas. In 2003, a 25 year old software engineer from Los Angeles won nearly 40 million dollars on the Megabucks slot machine at the Excalibur Casino. Traditional casino slot machine games give gamblers the opportunity to put in a quarter and push a button to see if they have struck it rich. There are larger money slots that have larger payouts. Over 70% of Americans have played the slot machines at least one time in their lives.

Frequently Asked Questions About Slot Machines

What types of slot machines are there?

Slot machines come in many different forms. Some of the most popular slot machines at casinos today are video slots, with amazing colors and graphics. Video slot machines are fast-paced, and many players love the instant rewards available from slot machines. There are still traditional one-armed bandits at some casinos in the United States, but many casinos have switched over to button operated, video slot machines. Progressive slot machines are all tied together via wireless communication. Gamblers have to spend more money on progressive slot machines, but the progressive slot jackpots can be massive.

How Can You Get the Most Return from Slot Machines?

There are a few tips you can follow to get the best return for your money. Whether you are playing a traditional slot machine or a video slot, all slot machines have reels and payout lines. Reels on a slot are the wheels inside the slot machine that spin once you pull the lever or press the button. The more reels the slot machine has, the harder it is to win, because your odds of winning go down with each reel. However, the small reel slots don’t have large payout. Most modern slot machines have between five and 10 reels. Usually, each reel has 10 symbols on it, and it is the combination of symbols on the reels that determine whether a player has won. The typical slot machine has five reels.

You will want to look on the side of slot machines, or in the instructions on a video slot machine for the paylines. The payline on a slot machine shows you the possible winning combinations. If you want to get the most money out of your slot experience, you can choose to bet more than one payline at a time, for a better return on your investment. By educating yourself on how slot machines work, you will get the most out of your slot gaming experience.

Video Slot Machine Locations Illinois For information on where to find video slots in Illinois, please visit Universal Gaming’s video slots location page.

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