History of Casinos
Gambling itself is as old as mankind as evidence has been uncovered that it was a part of life in the very earliest civilizations. Such was its appeal that gambling was mentioned both in the Old and New testaments of the Bible, as well as in ancient Chinese records going back to 2300 B.C.
The Roman Emperor Claudius is reputed to have played dice games including an early incarnation of backgammon. Indeed, the Romans were keen gamblers and the drawings at Pompeii support this knowledge. Whilst the exact origin of gambling is unknown, it is generally believed that one form or another has been enjoyed an almost every society throughout our history.
The earliest form of casino appears to have evolved in Italy and the term originally translated into a small villa, pavilion or summerhouse that was built purely for pleasure, often in the grounds of larger villas or that of a palazzo. In modern Italian, the word casino translates to a gambling house, or closed house (casa chiusa or bordello). One of the first Italian casinos was established around 1638 in Venice.
During the 19th century a casino came to be known as a certain public building where pleasurable activities took place and these would include sporting events and gambling.
Not all casinos were gambling establishments. The Copenhagen Casino was actually used as a theatre and mass meeting place. The Hanko Casino in Finland was never used for gambling, but was actually a banquet hall used by the Russian nobility in the late 1800s. In the present day, it is used as a restaurant.
In American history, the Wild West saloons were the first variations of casinos to be established there. This type of saloon soon grew in popularity in all the major cities from Chicago to New Orleans and San Francisco. During the early part of the 20th century, gambling became outlawed and driven underground. In 1931, gambling was once again legalized in the state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas thanks to its convenient geographical location fast became the city of choice for organized criminals to invest their money in the first of America’s official casinos.