History of Craps By NetBet.Org

Though some form of wagering on dice or objects similar to them is documented as far back as the Roman Empire, the specific antecedent of the game of craps was called Hazard. Its precise origins are unclear. Some claim that it was a game of Arabic peoples imported to Europe, supporting the claim with the fact that Arabic for dice is “al zar.” Others claim that in 1125, the Englishman Sir William of Tyre and his knights were laying siege to Hazarth castle and the game they invented as a pastime during the quiet periods took the name of the castle.

Whatever the case, Hazard was enormously popular in England. Chaucer mentions the game quite often in his Canterbury Tales. In luxurious gambling parlours in 17th century England the game was played, sometimes with the result that a nobleman was left destitute. Hazard is in many respects similar to our contemporary game of craps. Indeed, the name comes from a French corruption of the English “crabs,” a term which was applied to “snake eyes,” which in Hazard was a losing throw of the dice.

After Hazard was adopted by the French, French settlers of the early 1700’s brought the game with them to the colony of Arcadia. In 1755, the English wrested Arcadia from the French and renamed it Nova Scotia. The French were booted out and they migrated, eventually making their way to Louisiana. In 1813 in New Orleans, Bernard de Mandeville simplified hazard into the game of craps.

Craps steadily gained popularity, moving up the Mississippi river via steamboats and spreading to casinos throughout the land. It was in 1907 that John H. Winn, the acknowledged father of modern craps and a dice maker by profession, created the modern craps layout in New York. He later went to Philadelphia where he lettered in the “Don’t Pass” box on the layout, which became known as the Philadelphia Layout. This was the first time that craps players had the option to bet that the dice would lose. The existence of such bets rendered fixed dice less profitable; to this day of course casinos enforce rigorous standards for the integrity of the dice used in their craps games.

Although it has experienced ups and downs in popularity during the past century, craps remains a widely played casino gambling game, its favour being augmented by the offerings of many online craps sites.