Old-school casino traditions that are no longer popular

  • One of the old traditions that is no longer popular in casinos is bill stuffing.
  • High-stakes games like sic bo, roulette, and craps were once held in French quarters.
  • Baccarat was originally a Beau Idéal gaming option for the wealthy elite of Europe and France.
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Casinos have been around for hundreds of years, and in that time, they’ve seen it all. From the extravagant French Quarter to the shady back rooms where money laundering was rampant, casinos have certainly had their fair share of ups and downs.

But while many of these old-school casino traditions might be long gone, that doesn’t mean we can’t look back fondly on them. In fact, it might just give us a new appreciation for the more modern (and less seedy) world of gambling.

So, if you’re ready to take a trip down memory lane, grab your top hat and monocle, and let’s dive into some of the oldest casino traditions.

Bill Stuffing

One of the oldest casino traditions that is no longer popular is bill stuffing. This practice involved hiding large amounts of cash in rolls of bills to smuggle out of the casino without setting off alarm bells.

In the old days, this was a common way for gamblers to avoid detection and sneakily walk out with their winnings. It was especially popular during the Wild West era when casino security was lax at best.

While bill stuffing may seem like an ancient relic from a bygone era, it’s actually still alive and well today—just in a different form. These days, sophisticated criminals use electronic funds transfer (EFT) machines to launder their ill-gotten gains.

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By using these machines to move money between different accounts, they can make it incredibly difficult for law enforcement to track the origin of the funds. It’s a high-tech version of bill stuffing, but the principle is the same: to hide your money and avoid getting caught.

Of course, these days casinos are much better equipped to spot suspicious activity and work with law enforcement to put a stop to money laundering. So if you’re thinking of trying your hand at the old bill stuffing trick, you might want to think again. The chances of getting caught are pretty high, and the penalties for money laundering are severe.

High-Stakes Games in the French Quarter

Another one of those old casino traditions is high-stake games being held in the French quarter. If you’ve ever seen a period drama set in 18th or 19th century Europe, you’ll probably be familiar with the image of men in top hats and tails gathered around a table, sipping brandy and placing bets on various games.

This scene wasn’t just limited to the silver screen; it was a reality in many European and American casinos of the time. The French quarter, in particular, was known for its high-stakes gaming houses. Here, the elite could indulge in their favorite vices in relative privacy, away from the prying eyes of the lower classes.

Games like faro, baccarat, and roulette were particularly popular here. Faro, in fact, was the most popular game in many casinos during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was a simple card game where players bet on which card would be turned over first – the one on the top of the stock pile, or the one at the bottom of the deal pile.

Baccarat, on the other hand, was originally a beau ideal gaming option for the wealthy elite. It was seen as a refined and sophisticated game, one that required little skill and even less sweat equity. Just the thing for a bored aristocrat looking for a quick fix.

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As for roulette, this game has a slightly murky history. While it’s generally accepted that it was invented in France sometime in the 17th or 18th century, there are conflicting stories about exactly how it came about. Some say it was invented by Blaise Pascal (of pascal’s triangle and pascal’s law fame) as a sideline to his work on perpetual motion machines. Others claim it was dreamed up by a group of French monks as a way to raise money for the church.

Whatever its origins, roulette quickly became popular among the upper classes. With its air of sophistication and the chance to win (or lose) a fortune in one fell swoop, it was the perfect game for the dandy set.

So next time you’re playing roulette or sipping brandy in a fancy casino, you can feel yourself transported back to the heady days of the French quarter. Just be sure to leave the monocles at home – they’re really not necessary (or indeed fashionable) these days.

Craps in the Back Alley

Craps in the back alley is another one of those old casino traditions. While the French quarter was reserved for the upper crust, the common folk had to make do with more…unsavory locales. Shady back alleys, deserted warehouses, and abandoned subway stations were all fair game for dice enthusiasts.

And let’s not forget the infamous speakeasies of Prohibition-era America. These secret clubs provided the perfect cover for underground craps games. By day, they served bootleg liquor to thirsty flappers; by night, they transformed into hotbeds of illegal gambling.

It was a risky business, of course. The police were always on the lookout for these sorts of establishments, and a raid could mean the difference between profit and prison time. But the thrill of the forbidden fruit was too great for many, and the lure of easy money proved too strong to resist.

These days, craps is no longer confined to the back alley. It’s a mainstream casino game enjoyed by people of all walks of life. Gone are the days of whispers and furtive glances; nowadays, you can place your bets with all the gusto of a seasoned pro.

But if you close your eyes and listen to the clatter of dice and the jangle of change, you can almost hear echoes of those shadowy nights gone by.

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Cigar Smoke Filling the Room

Cigar smoke filling the room used to be a norm in casinos. Another one of those traditional casino scenes you’ve probably encountered in movies and books is the thick cloud of cigar smoke that hangs heavy in the air.

In the old days, casinos were veritable saunas of tobacco. Gentlemen (it was almost always gentlemen) puffed contentedly on stogies, robustos, and coronas, filling the room with a blue haze that made it difficult to see across the table.

There were good reasons for this habit beyond simply enjoying a fine cigar. For one thing, smoking was deemed to be good for one’s health in Victorian times. Tobacco was believed to have medicinal properties, from curing impotence to preventing the sweating sickness.

Moreover, the overpowering smell of cigar smoke acted as a natural deodorizer, masking the less savory odors that arose in crowded gaming rooms. And let’s not forget the social aspect of cigar smoking. Puffing on a stogie was a sign of wealth and sophistication, a badge of honor for the moneyed elite.

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These days, things are different. Thanks to increasing awareness of the health risks associated with smoking, many casinos have gone smoke-free. If you want to enjoy a fine cigar while placing your bets, you’re usually relegated to outdoor smoking areas.

It’s a shame, really. There’s something inherently charming about the sight of a gentleman (or gentlementime) puffing contentedly on a Cuban while rubbing his chin thoughtfully as he considers his next move. But I guess progress waits for none, not even the humble cigar.

Is Gambling’s Past Still Relevant Today?

So, what can we learn from the old ways of casino gaming? Well, for one thing, it’s clear that gambling has always been a reflection of the times in which it occurs. From the decadent excesses of the Victorian era to the seedier side of Prohibition, our relationship with risk and reward says a lot about who we are as a society.

Moreover, studying the past can give us insights into the present. Take money laundering, for instance. Understanding the history of bill stuffing helps us recognize the signs of suspicious activity and crack down on those who seek to exploit the system.

Similarly, familiarity with the golden age of cigarette smoke and illicit cocktail parties can help us identify problem gambling before it spirals out of control.

In short, the old ways of casino gaming might be fading into the mists of time, but their lessons remain relevant. As we hurtle towards the future, it’s important to remember where we’ve been and what we can learn from it. So raise a glass (but not a cigar) to the ghosts of casinos past, and may your chips stack up as neatly as they did in the golden age.

Kevin Roberts, previously published under the pseudonym Noah Davis, is one of the longest serving members of the GamblingSites.com team. His experience in the gambling space dates back to the early 2000’s when he founded an offline gambling community in the United Kingdom. In 2017, after decades in the scene, Kevin moved out to Denver, Colorado to join GamblingSites.com and has been sharing his knowledge with the world ever since.

When it comes to writing about gambling, there few who come close to the expertise that Kevin brings to GamblingSites.com.