The first casino to be officially recognized, Casino De Venezia in Venice, Italy, opened its doors in 1638. While the excitement and perhaps even some of the games remain the same, casinos have undergone a massive change since those early days.
For hundreds of years before technology took over, casinos were a simpler place. Nowadays, you might feel like you’ve transported to a futuristic world with all the lights, sounds, and colors to go with it.
In this article, I’ll explore some of the ways casinos have changed since their inception back in the 17th century.
1 – The Games
First and foremost, the addition of new games has had the biggest impact on the evolution of casinos over the past few centuries.
Classics like poker, real money blackjack, and roulette have endured the test of time and remain some of the most popular on the floor. However, in 1894, the slot machine was introduced and it has changed everything about the industry.
Due to their extremely high volume of spins, slot machines are a major money-maker for the house. In the time it takes to play three blackjack hands, a player might go through 30 rounds on the slot machine. This alone makes it a valuable part of any casino business.
It might be hard to stomach for the true casino purists, but today’s casino floors make slots the star of the show, and they occupy a significant amount of square footage.
In addition to slots, newer, digital versions of some classic games have gained popularity in recent years. For example, video poker has become somewhat of a breakout star since 2000. Some players say the game is easier to control than a real hand of poker.
Aside from video poker, electronic roulette has been a real hit. It functions similarly to the real game, but players place their wagers on a video screen, meaning payouts are instant and there’s never a delay due to a slow dealer or an overcrowded table.
Although the games have largely been modernized, it’s still pretty cool to think that the classics have looked almost the exact same for hundreds of years. Sitting at a blackjack table might almost feel like stepping back in time in the best way possible.
But there’s one thing that players should keep in mind. The newer the game is, the worse the odds are for the players, generally speaking. Most casino enthusiasts recognize this, but some newer players might be less aware.
Logically, a casino is not going to introduce a new game that has a super low house edge. They can’t go back and change the rules of blackjack or roulette, but they can throw in a Big Six, with all its flashing lights and sounds to try to get just a little more money out of players.
If you’re looking for some shorthand advice, stay away from anything that looks like it was invented within the last 50 years. I write that tongue-in-cheek, but there’s some truth to it as well.
2 – The Online Shift
Perhaps the biggest change that has happened in the gaming industry can be seen in the accessibility of casino games, and betting in general, over the past 10 years.
Now, to be clear, accessibility has been increasing dramatically for some time now. Whereas in the mid-1900s you might have to travel to the next town over to find a gambling establishment, casinos of all sizes are popping up in states across the country. Today, there are just under 1,000 casinos in the US, and nearly everyone can get to one within an hour or two.
With that being said, physical casinos are not the cause of the explosion of participation in casino gaming, that belongs to other platforms like online gambling sites.
To the benefit of the gambling industry, the immense growth and development in technology has seemed to coincide with laws and regulations surrounding gambling becoming much more lax.
Every single person with a smartphone over the age of 18 now has a legitimate, safe, reliable, and ultimately fun, casino right in his or her pocket. Just about any game you could hope to find on a real casino floor is now available right in the palm of your hand.
To be clear, this has caused a few problems for casinos who rely on visitors coming in, spending money on drinks at hotel rooms, and playing for hours on end. However, many of the large players in the gaming industry have been able to recognize the new era of gaming and invested in some type of technology associated with online gaming.
The bottom line is that the technology that enables gamblers to play through mobile devices is only going to keep expanding in the coming years. If handled properly, this can be a tremendous benefit to both the casinos and the players.
3 – The Hot Spots
Las Vegas has long been known as the “holy land” for serious, high-rolling gamblers. The same can even be said for amateur bettors who are in it for the thrill more so than the money.
Now, to be sure, Vegas isn’t going anywhere in terms of its prominence in the gambling world. But it’s no longer the only viable location for big-time players.
In what has been a relatively quick period of growth, East Asia is slowly gaining on Sin City as the world’s foremost destination for all things gambling.
As the financial crisis in 2008 rocked the US, hotels and casinos weren’t being built at the same as they once were in Las Vegas. Another contributing factor to the construction slowdown has been the explosion of growth in Asia, more specifically Macau in China.
As part of the People’s Republic of China, there are some controversial strings attached to the new development. While the government has long been considered as not having a great reputation when it comes to overall citizen rights, that hasn’t stopped businesses from flourishing inside its borders.
The business of gambling in Macau does however look slightly different than Las Vegas for a few reasons. First, there has been an unparalleled focus on the digital side. Many popular online gambling sites have been started in Macau, and significant resources have been put into this growing industry.
One way that the Macau growth does mirror that of Vegas can be seen in the people who have taken on the project. Many developers who made their name in Las Vegas, most notably Steve Wynn, have taken their talents to Asia.
As they’ve begun building up Macau, some have even mentioned that the growth atmosphere reminds them of the early days of Vegas. We imagine the nostalgia, combined with the untapped financial potential, will make this a popular development area for years to come.
4 – Legality
What was once an industry controlled by backroom dealers and shady mob figures is now officially a big business in the United States.
Today, 18 states have physical casinos established and 30 states offer legalized gambling of some kind. The discrepancy comes from the confusing legislation that surrounds reservation casinos that are managed by Native American tribes, primarily in the southwestern states.
No longer do Americans need to make the pilgrimage to Vegas in order to satisfy their blackjack or roulette urges. In most major American cities, a full-service casino, complete with hotels, a massive gambling floor, and all types of entertainment is just a short drive away.
Because gambling laws in the U.S. have been changing so fast in the past 10 years, it’s hard to predict exactly where things will settle. With that being said, it seems more than likely that legality will eventually be set at the federal level, meaning any state will be able to open up their own gambling establishment in accordance to federal guidelines.
Most major players from the corporate side of the casino industry support these changes. As gambling becomes more readily available to the public, it’s likely to generate new revenue for everyone in the industry.
Gambling has undergone a transition in the past 30 years like few other industries in the history of the country. Like everything else, there has been a major focus placed on the mobile aspect of the business, and the early results suggest a hugely profitable potential in this arena.
It’s impossible to predict where things will end up, but checking in on the latest news can help you understand all the developments going on in your area.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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