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Video Game History of Casinos

Video games have been known to divulge into the sometimes dangerous world of gambling, that much is fact. Whether or not you’d like to admit it, gamers are targeted with gambling and other vices. Whether you’re playing a game of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in the Casino Night Zone, playing some of the classic Leisure Suit Larry’s Casino, or you prefer to actually play some online roulette or play and win real money, gambling is a very serious discussion in the real world.


First and foremost, please remember to gamble responsibly – Even in video games. Sonic the Hedgehog was a great example of what can happen if you gamble too much. Often, he’d jump into the prize slot, the slot machine would go to the Robotnik heads and boom: Away goes all of your rings, which makes you vulnerable to being killed in one hit. Here’s a look at a few examples of casinos done right in gaming:

Casino – Atari Inc (1978)

I may be wrong, but this appears to have been the earliest example of a casino in home video games. In Atari’s Casino, you played through what was effectively a bunch of mini-games. For it’s time, it was rather good, but not without its flaws. For the most part it was pretty solid; with poker, poker solitaire and blackjack to choose from. Furthermore, the game was re-released as an 80 classic games title in as late as 2003.

Casino Nights Zone – Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)

Any gamer that had a Sega will likely have played one of the Sonic games. You play as titular hero, Sonic, going about his business, trying to save the woodland critters from the evil Dr. Robotnik. In his travels Sonic goes through lush green hills, maddening underwater mazes, industrial zones and a casino. It’s all well and good playing on the slot machines, or playing the pinball for points which might well have been a precursor to Sonic Spinball, but you can lose all of your important rings this way. Gamble carefully!

Leisure Suit Larry’s Casino – Sierra (1998)

The Leisure Suit Larry franchise was a sleeze-fest, known for its debauchery and it’s sin-filled locations. Well, this title took it to the next level. In Leisure Suit Larry’s Casino, you play as a patron of the casino, earning credits through a series of mini-games. The impressive part about this title is the online multiplayer aspect. You and all the online players could be sat in a jacuzzi together, playing a game of poker. Even better was the game had people acting as hosts for Sierra.


There are many other great examples of casinos in video games, but we’re going to leave that there. The casino level has been around for a while in various forms, be it a fully interactive level, or a small tip of the hat like in Duke Nukem Forever. All of these games teach you one thing though; gambling can be dangerous. So gamble responsibly. Let us know your favourite casino level in the comments below or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.

4 responses

  1. I usually find it annoying whenever slot machines show up in games (the Casino Night Zone is one of the exceptions, of course) because I know they’re going to offer some amazingly good prize that can only be obtained through gambling. I prefer when it’s a mini-game that has an element of skill involved.

    Liked by 1 person

    April 26, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    • Absolutely agreed: My partner pointed out to me after I finished writing this article “Are you going to talk about Pokemon’s Game Corner?” I don’t like that place. It’s just… Press A to continue :(

      But yes, Sonic’s a special case. I think the three I mentioned are pretty exempt. Leisure Suit Larry, you kept playing and you’d get better rooms and gifts etc. The original Atari casino game was… Just… A really early example of casinos and gambling in games :)

      Do you have any particular -most hated or loved- games for it?

      Liked by 1 person

      April 26, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      • The Game Corner was indeed one of the things I had in mind when typing that comment. That’s why I’m glad it was replaced with the Voltorb Flip in the Gen II remakes. It’s still somewhat luck-based, but you have much more control over your success.

        I’m also not fond of their appearances in the Dragon Quest series, but at least there, the prizes are usually ridiculously overpowered equipment you don’t need to win as long as you’re sufficiently leveled. Some installments feature a cool board game, which is also luck-based, but it’s a lot more fun.

        Liked by 1 person

        April 26, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      • Yeah, with the Game Corner, your gambling literally went on to getting you another one for the Pokedex in Porygon. I always thought that was a very sad sign that you needed to gamble to effectively fulfil the full dex.

        That’s a great choice in Dragon Quest, which I didn’t know about myself :) Gonna be looking that up tonight via YouTube to see what it’s all about.

        Liked by 1 person

        April 26, 2017 at 3:21 pm

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