The need for entertainment has been an accompanying phenomenon of humankind since the dawn of ages. This way or other people have always needed to unwind, to have a hobby, or to have some fun. However, one of the quite recent inventions has changed the entertainment industry forever. We are talking about computers and the world wide web. With these technologies being around, people gained a chance to experience a whole new level of leisure and reality.

Video games have been a huge part of this transformation. They offered numerous opportunities to explore, rethink, and reconstruct familiar concepts such as board games, various team games, and even gambling. The latter industry gained a whole new meaning with the emergence of new technologies. The horizons have widened significantly by reimagining old gambling games with newly found opportunities provided by computers. In this article, we will get to know gambling themed video games from the 80s and 90s that were the pioneers of the industry and paved the way for the classic casino games of today.

Wagering money on games has been a long-standing tradition and came into place before any gambling games had even emerged. It is simply an act of betting on your win at any video/arcade game. So the principle has always been there. The element of the uncertainty is a staple characteristic of any computer game now and it had been back in the past.  Just like at any online real money casino players, gamers had to deal with the unpredictability and randomness of the gameplay. As you can imagine, the mechanics of gambling are very similar to the mechanics of any regular video game. So in this sense, both were interconnected since the very beginning.

First games did not include real money but had imitated wagering. They recreated popular card games that became available on home personal computers and the arcade machines.  For example, the game called Casino released in 1982 included most of them and was simulating the real gambling. Monte Carlo Casino game issued in 1989 for 8-bit computers included numerous popular card games such as Blackjack, Roulette, and Poker. King of Casino dated 1990 had a similar concept but was available for the PC owners. It aimed at creating a real-life casino experience with multiple establishments and a variety of games. Players could visit different casinos that were unlike each other in terms of design, games available, and rules. One can argue that it was among the first RPG-like gambling games.

Of course, another option that had entered the realm of video gaming right at the start was a slot machine. Have an extremely similar mechanics, it was perfect for video game format adoption. Fruit Machine was released in 1984 and had been among the first slots for 8-bit devices of the time. It had been even included in a starting pack of games for some models. Needles to say, it had become quite popular and opened the gates for the whole new genre, including old west games.

In 1989 Fruit Machine Simulator had been issued to become very popular with players and even launching a reboot in the late 90s.  AV Pachisuro was designed for a Nintendo console in 1991 and included three slot machine games Cutie Bunny, Juicy Fruits, or Las Vegas for the player to choose from. Each one had a unique design and soundtrack.

Casino Games published by Sega in 1989 simulated Las-Vegas experience with card games, some slots, and a pinball game. Players started with a 500$ bonus with the goal being to win a million.

The tendency to emulate the real-life gambling experience has been realized even further in the 1993 game Super Caesars Palace which included not only blackjack, slot machines, roulette, horse racing, Keno, video poker, and Red Dog but also some in-casino interactions. Super Nintendo owners could talk to other casino visitors, giving them tips and advice. Players could converse with non-casino characters and have $100 scratch-off tickets that boost the winnings. However, if the picture of the bomb was included in a ticket – all money would be lost.

As you can see the connection between the video gaming experience and the current online gambling industry is quite obvious. Not only the mechanics of gaming and gambling are obvious, but also the interest in seeing players’ favorite games in the video game format has been steadily increasing over the ages. Technologies have helped to transform the current gaming industry and clear the way for the modern apps and gambling websites we enjoy today.

Jason Copley is a historian and tech enthusiast with a focus on the gaming industry. He studies the development of gaming technologies and their impact on society. Mr. Copley shares his findings in his online blog and has a striving digital community of gaming historians that leads a discussion on the game industry.


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