The gambling industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. The online gambling market, for one, benefitted from pandemic lockdowns. But did you know that 51% of the world’s population participates in some form of gambling?
In many countries, players can find famous casino games from the comfort of home. But before that, casinos were favorite destinations for amateurs and famous gamblers alike. The first casino appeared in 1638 in Venice, Italy.
But have you ever wondered about the history of casinos? Well, if you have, keep reading for a unique look at five people who influenced the gambling industry.
1. Bookmaker Harry Ogden
Horse racing in Britain had been prevalent for more than a century before Harry Ogden came along. Betting was also part of the culture, but much of it was illegal and quiet.
Most bets then were single wagers on favorites or the rest of the field. The turf accountant for horse betting was generally offering one-to-one odds. Harry Ogden saw a more significant opportunity, introducing varying odds to the horse racing world.
Ogden used his knowledge of the sport to create odds on every entry with the racing form. Each horse’s past performances determined the odds he would set out. Harry’s creation of fractions such as 6/1 revolutionized the gambling industry.
By giving odds on each horse, Harry Ogden ensured himself a healthy profit. But, then, by attracting bets on every horse in a race, Ogden could offset much more than his payout on the winner.
2. Gambler Pittsburgh Phil
From early adolescence, George was a factory worker supporting his widowed mother. He hated his work, so he sought refuge in gambling. During the late 19th century, Smith was making baseball bets in the pool halls of Pittsburgh.
George discovered horse racing in the pool halls and placed his first bet on a horse named Gabriel at 5/1 odds. Without ever seeing a live horse race, Smith collected on the wager. He became convinced horse betting would earn him a better living.
George kept his winnings under a mattress for two years so his mother wouldn’t know about his pastime. George’s mother overlooked his indiscretions when she discovered his secret. He became so successful that many bookies refused his wagers after a while.
Then, in 1885, George saw his first live race at the Kentucky Derby. He also moved to Chicago, believing his betting chances would improve. It was there in Chicago where he got the nickname Pittsburgh Phil. His reputation grew there, and George began using runners to place his bets.
3. Governor Henry Goode Blasdel
Before Nevada became a state, he came by way of California to work as a prospector. Gambling was a significant part of the mining culture when Nevada was still a territory. Then in 1864, the former storekeeper from Indiana, Henry Blasdel, got elected Governor.
As the first Governor of the new state, Blasdel vetoed a bill to decriminalize gambling. It took five more years to pass the bill, but in 1869 Blasdel agreed. After that, certain forms of gambling became allowed to operate in establishments with licenses.
Sherrif’s offices obtained the authority to grant licenses. One stipulation was that casinos could not operate in the front rooms of taverns or saloons. Then, on May 19, 1931, gambling was legalized by Governor Fred Balzar in Nevada.
4. The Mobster Bugsy Siegel
The driving force behind the first casinos in Las Vegas arrived from New York City in the 1940s. Benjamin Siegel had been on the wrong side of the law most of his life. As a way to legitimize himself in the West, Bugsy had a vision.
Casinos already existed in Las Vegas, but Siegel saw an opportunity to make the town a destination. He also knew that legalized gambling was an excellent investment for his mob connections back East. So in 1945, Bugsy Siegel and his gang took control of the Flamingo Hotel.
Siegel refurbished the casino hotel for an enormous $4.5 million. Bugsy insisted on every detail of the rebuild. But he intended to bring the most prominent entertainers and provide the best gambling anywhere.
Siegel was getting pressure from back home to deliver on his promises. Yet, he did attract Hollywood’s elite and turned the casino into a hot spot. But as a result, the resort was still losing money in 1947.
Benjamin Bugsy Siegel deserves credit for creating the Las Vegas lifestyle. But the mob syndicate tired of his ego and tactics. So in June of 1947, Bugsy Siegel was murdered while sitting in his home.
5. Platform Creator Teddy Sagi
This Israeli-born founder of Playtech is not a household name in famous casinos. He’s not a world-famous gambler or even a casino owner. But Teddy Sagi is responsible for revolutionizing gaming online.
In 1999, Teddy created his software company with the best mathematicians available. Sagi first launched iPoker, a network platform that is still in much use today by online sites.
Several sites with the best casino online reviews use Playtech’s innovative casino software. In addition, some of the most famous casino games are enjoyed online through the Playtech system.
Online casino sites love the user interface with Playtech technology. Sagi’s company makes memorable slot game experiences for successful movies as well. For example, all the Marvel Comic stories are themes on Playtech slots.
Playtech is now a worldwide company that employs thousands. In addition, the company continues to lead the online gambling industry in technology.
The Gambling Industry Grows
Throughout the history of casinos, there have been characters of all sorts. From famous gamblers to industry builders, they all leave their mark. But, a special few have rolled the dice and changed the way we play.
Like many others today, the gambling industry is thriving with online services. In addition, gambling is part of many cultures. So it was only a matter of time before it evolved to reach a wider audience.
And if you enjoyed reading about some of the cards in this article, come back for more exciting stories.