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Firsts in Gambling

Author: Skyla Burrell

Gambling games date to a time before written history. In this article, we will look at the origins and notable firsts of some of our favorite casino games in the gambling world!


Originally the game of Blackjack was called “Twenty-One” and the first reference is accredited to Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (also the author of Don Quixote). Historians argue about the true origins, but the first real description of the game came from Spain. Blackjack games were immensely popular straight out of the gate and were even played in the Royal Court during the reign of King Louis XV. The very first felted Blackjack table was made in 1919 and is still the standard today.


Sophocles documented that dice games were created by the Greek Palamedes during the siege of Troy, however, organized dice games can actually be dated back to Mesopotamia in 3000 B.C. Depictions of dice games have even been found on cave walls going back 40,000 years. The game of Craps was developed in the USA and was loosely based on the more difficult Western European game of Hazard (whose origins were lost during the Crusades). The very first Craps game was played in New Orleans, Louisiana in approximately 1805.


The game of Keno originated in China 2,000+ years ago and was used as a revenue generator to help fund the construction of the Great Wall. The game was originally called “white pigeon ticket” and first arrived in the United States and Europe in the 1840s with Chinese immigrants. The largest jackpot in history was won on 13th August 2018 for a whopping $7,898,799.30 by an extremely lucky patron of the Northumberland Hotel in Lambton, Australia.


Poker takes its origins from the Persian game As-Nas and the first game of Poker was played in the United States, circa the early 1800s in New Orleans, and was a huge hit on the floating saloons, also known as Mississippi Steamers. The very first World Series of Poker was held in 1970 at the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas.


The first version of the Roulette wheel has been generally credited to Blaise Pascal who was trying to create a perpetual motion machine in the 17th century. The game of Roulette was created by combining the wheel and an Italian game called Biribi. The very first documented game of Roulette was played in France in the 18th century. The first game of single-zero roulette was played in a resort in Germany in 1843 by the men who later went on to build the famous and glamorous Monte Carlo Casino.


Beautiful San Francisco, California is the home of the very first slot machine which was created by Charles Fey who bestowed upon her name, “The Liberty Bell”. Interestingly, the Golden State of California was also the first to develop video slot machines for the Fortune Coin Co. out of Las Vegas in 1976. The very first progressive jackpot slot was launched in 1986 by IGT and called “Megabucks”. This progressive slot is still available today and starts with a minimum jackpot of 10 million dollars!