Casino Popularity

Gambling has been a popular form of entertainment since ancient times, with dice found in Egyptian tombs dating back to earliest recorded history. Various civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Japanese, engaged in games of skill and chance as early as 2300 B.C. Many of the games played then have evolved into the ones we enjoy today. For instance, keno, a game played in China over 2,000 years ago, involved pigeons carrying winning numbers back and forth between players and the lottery office.

The origins of blackjack, also known as “twenty-one,” can be traced back to the 15th century, with different versions of the game existing in France, Spain, and Italy, each with its own unique rules. European settlers brought their gambling traditions to America, where dice, card games, and betting on horse races became common pastimes. Native American cultures also had their own games of chance, including dice games and guessing games.

Despite gambling being illegal for much of early American history, it was widespread. Nevada attempted to regulate gambling by legalizing it in 1869, only to ban it again in 1910. However, in 1931, Nevada reversed its stance and legalized casino gambling once more, paving the way for the corporate ownership of casinos.

In 1967 and 1969, Nevada passed Corporate Gaming Acts, allowing corporations to have direct involvement in the casino industry, leading to a trend of corporate ownership of casinos. Today, many commercial casino companies are publicly traded on major stock exchanges.

New Jersey followed suit in 1976 by legalizing casino gaming, with the first casino opening in Atlantic City in 1978. Atlantic City has since become the second-largest casino market in the United States.

In 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act legalized gambling on Native American reservations to help tribes generate revenue and maintain economic independence. Today, there are over 500 Native American gaming operations across 29 states.

The concept of destination casino resorts emerged in 1989 with the opening of the Mirage Hotel & Casino Resort in Las Vegas, marking the beginning of a new era in the industry. Since then, many other casino corporations have built destination casinos to attract customers.

Also in 1989, Iowa and South Dakota legalized gaming, leading to the largest expansion of the gaming industry into new jurisdictions in U.S. history over the next five years.

In 1992, the first racetrack casino, or “racino,” opened in Rhode Island, allowing customers to play slot machines alongside betting on dog races. By 1994, several other states had also legalized racinos. Today, racetrack casinos are present in 14 states.