Although the exact origin is unknown, gambling has existed since ancient times and is generally believed to have been present in one form or another in almost every society. Since he was able to, man has gambled for money, for pleasure, for the outcome of wars.
Some early highlights include the first “official” account of gambling by the Chinese in 2300BC - a pair of ivory dice found in Egypt and created sometime before 1500BC.
Evidence of modern day gambling was discovered in the Pyramids where tomb paintings showed the deceased playing a dice game called Jackals and Hounds.
||According to Greek mythology, Fortune, the daughter of Zeus and Tycho, was the Goddess of Chance. She invented several games of chance and even had buildings constructed specifically for playing these games. It is believed that Fortune had these buildings illuminated on the outside to attract passing travellers. Perhaps one could argue that these were indeed the first casinos.
Over the years, casino gambling has evolved and developed producing a wide range of games which can be divided into two broad categories, table games and slot machines.
To avoid getting too carried away, let’s focus on the history of slot machines and one of the most popular table games – Blackjack.
At SUNCOAST, we have 19 Blackjack tables. The minimum bet on the tables is R25 and the maximum is R10,000.
The origin of Blackjack is as ‘murky’ from a scholarly perspective as that of Roulette. Italy, France and Spain all claim to be the “inventors” of one of the most widely played casino games in the world.
Today it is commonly agreed (other than by the Italians and Spanish that is) that the first roots of Blackjack appeared during the 17th Century in France – where a game called Vingt-Et-Un, which means “21” was introduced into French casinos. The idea of Blackjack (and Poker) came from the practice of shuffling papers and money in about 900 AD. This evolved into card playing which eventually made its way to Europe via the Mameluke Empire. Being practicing Muslims, the Mamelukes did not decorate their cards with human forms – but rather with beautiful intricate designs.
When the cards eventually made their way to Italy and Spain, card makers began distinguishing cards with the ranks of men who held power in the Royal Court – which probably explains why the Queen of today’s decks did not appear until the 1500’s when the French got hold of them and “swopped” out a male card.
Finally – a game whose origin is clear! The first mechanical slot machine was invented in 1895 by a 29 year old car mechanic, Charles Fay, in San Francisco. He began manufacturing them by hand and placed them in local gaming halls on a 50% rental basis – making him not only the inventor but also the first slot machine operator.
Fay’s machines were a huge and immediate success and he couldn’t keep up with the demand in his small shop. He refused many offers from equipment manufactures and his invention remained an exclusive California phenomenon for thirteen years until 1907, when Herbert Stephan Mills, a Chicago manufacturer of arcade games, began production of a similar slot machine called the Operator Bell.
The symbols on the Operator Bell were cherries, plums and bars – making it the first in a long line of slots to be called “fruit machines”.
These early twentieth century mechanical slot machines gave way to electronic slot machines in the mid-1960’s.
Today, at SUNCOAST we have over 1300 slot machines of different types offering more than two hundred game types or choices that have been purchased from over eight different manufacturers around the world.
The machines accept different denominations ranging from 1c to R100, which have correspondingly different payouts. The main casino floor has 785 slots, the smoking casino 452 and there is also the Salon Prive 93 which includes a private gaming room consisting of nine high end slot machines. There are progressive jackpots with denominations ranging from 2c to R25, including the R1 Sunstruck, which starts at a million rand!
Present day casinos like SUNCOAST provide an outlet for people to enjoy the thrill of winning in this game of pure chance.