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As we conclude the eighth year of live video gaming operations in Illinois it sure feels like time has flown by. 2020 has been an extremely difficult year for Americans and the Illinois VGT community. Reflecting on the market since go live we thought it would be fun to do a series of stories about the history of gaming. Starting with Part 1, the History of Casino Gaming Around the World.

Gaming has roots that trace back to mankind's earliest ancestors. However, it wasn't until the world's very first casino, known as Il Ridotto (Italian: “Private Room”), opened its doors in Venice, Italy, that gaming went from small rooms and backlots to a more organized fashion. In fact, Italy is also credited with the etymology of the word "casino" - it is derived from the Italian description for a "small house."

The earliest casinos

While gaming has been popular since the earliest cultures in places like ancient China and ancient Rome, casinos didn't enter the picture until 1638. Meant to provide fun and entertainment during downtimes of the Venetian Carnival, Il Ridotto had some very strict rules.

  1. Only privileged individuals were allowed in the casino.
  2. Patrons had to abide by a specific dress code at all times (specifically, wear hats and masks).
  3. Guests were expected to be civil.
  4. Players were required to order food or drink from the casino's menu.

Unfortunately, Il Ridotto was closed in 1774 by Giorgio Pisani, but others would soon rise to take its place - including new ones in Italy and around the globe.

Casinos in the 19th century

Although several new casinos were built during the 18th century, Europe really saw a casino boom in the 19th century. To accommodate their newfound popularity, casinos started expanding and growing larger. Moreover, many casinos began making customer service a top priority.

The 19th century brings with it the creation of highly luxurious casino development. The Prince of Monaco, Florestran I, approved Monaco’s first casino in 1856. Le Grand Casino de Monte Carlo. Made famous in modern day culture by many James Bond films such as “GoldenEye” and “Casino Royale”. The Grand Casino still stands today and recently removed their requirement to wear a sport coat and surprisingly offer a very well-priced luxurious restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Casinos in the United States

Traditional Englishmen are credited for introducing gaming to the original British colonies. Raffles, lotteries and card games in the U.S. are all traceable back to the country's birth, but casinos wouldn't make their appearance until the 1800s.

Most of the earliest U.S. casinos were riverboats located in and around New Orleans, but a few gambling halls were licensed throughout the state. The introduction of such properties was somewhat problematic due to the lack of formal legislation for gaming operations in the new and young America. Gaming activities were somewhat of a gray area until 1931 when Nevada officially passed the Wide Open Gambling Bill to effectively legalize casinos in the state. Fast forward to today, many other states followed suit, but none have reached the amount of fame as Las Vegas.

Casinos and their games have made many transformations since then. The high cost and sometimes difficult to access brick and mortar casino development eventually led to the popular VGT offering we see in Illinois today. No longer does a patron need to hop a flight to Vegas or take a drive to a regional casino as the same fun and excitement is offered by great companies like Prairie State Gaming. If you’re a patron looking for the hottest slots or a local establishment that wants the benefits of a great casino operator like Penn National Gaming (our parent company) with close to home customer service call Prairie State Gaming today for your Illinois Video Gaming servicing. To find out more about how video game terminals (VGT) can bring success to your establishment, contact Prairie State Gaming today.