Craps is most often associated with 1920s and 1930s America, where some say it experienced its golden age. However, to limit this games to just one period of time does its history no justice what so ever.
In modern history, craps spent more of its life known as ‘hazard’ than it did as ‘craps’, which is in itself a French bastardization of the original nickname ‘crabs’. Hazard finds its modern roots in the eighteenth century when it was popular amongst the European aristocracy, who were responsible for bringing the game to American soil. However, the original game is believed to be based on a game dating all the way back to the time of the Roman empire when soldiers would pass the time with a dice game – using polished pig bones as the dice.
The direct development of hazard into modern craps was at the hands of Bernard de Mandeville in the early nineteenth century who simplified the original game which made it more accessible and thereby more common. Like so many casino games, craps slipped into popular play on the Mississippi steamboats which caused its spread across North America. There was one reputed problem with the innovations adopted in Bernard de Mandeville’s game; namely its propensity for loaded dice. In order to deal with this issue, craps underwent its second face lift, this time at the hands of one John H. Winn.
Mr. Winn introduced the option for ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ betting in the table layout and included the ‘don’t pass’ bet space, thereby drastically changing the betting rules and allowing from this point on for the option of betting with or in opposition to the roller thereby precluding the effectiveness of loaded dice; furthermore causing the change to the face of the craps table making it what we know today.
The most modern period in craps history saw interest in the game slumping to an all time low in the latter part of the twentieth century, following great popularity in the inter-war and post war years. Many blame this slump in craps on increased interest in slot machines, others blame precisely its golden age for its modern unpopularity, claiming that an image of gangsters and out datedness plagued the game’s image. However, with the new generation of gambling clientele, the online gamblers, craps has seen an increase in popularity set to return it to its former glory.