When we think of gambling or casino games, some of the things that first come to mind are money, high risk, vice. None of these things is something that we would normally associate with children’s games but a few of the typical casino games actually originate from games for children.
Roulette is surely one of the most popular gambling games and definitely a must in every casino. Simply put, it’s a game in which you bet on where a ball will stop on a spinning wheel. Roulette has existed for over two hundred years and had brought sorrow and joy to many people, but long before roulette came to casinos, it had been a children’s toy. In ancient Rome, children had a very similar game. According to historians, children would draw a circle and put a broken chariot wheel in the middle of it. The outer rim of the circle would be split into as many parts as there were children playing and the parts would have the children’s names marked on them. Then, one of the children would suggest a task that should be done by someone. The child would spin the chariot wheel and the child whose name the wheel pointed at when it stopped would have to do the task. It is said that Roman soldiers also played this game and such chariot wheels were found even in emperors’ palaces.
Craps is a game of dice in which players try to roll a sum of 7 or 11 while trying to avoid a sum of 2, 3 or 12. It has been discovered that children in Norse tribes played a very similar game as early as in 920 AD. It was common for Norse tribes to have a wise woman (völva) who would predict the future of the villagers. She would do this by throwing bones on the ground or a table and predicting the future based on the positions of the bones. Archaeologists have found similarly shaped bones in young girls’ bags and came up with two theories. One is that those girls were students of wise women, but since Norsemen were a patriarchal society, they were not supposed to encourage any schooling of young girls. The other theory is that the bones were given to girls for them to play in the hope that the next wise woman’s power would manifest itself during the game. The rules of the game were like this: two girls would throw the bones on the ground and certain positions of the bones would mean good luck and other would represent bad luck. The girl who had more good luck would win.
Before card games found their way into casinos, they had been played just for fun. Poker, a synonym for gambling, was a game for children in ancient China. At first, there were no suits or numbers on the cards but only pictures of animals. The cards were dealt to the players and the one who had the card with the scariest animal in their hand would win. Obviously, the game has changed quite a lot since that time.