When, and where, did craps originate?
Craps is, of course, a casino game in which players bet on the outcome of a roll, or a series of rolls, of a pair of dice. The name ‘craps’ is believed to be an Anglicisation of the French word ‘crapaud’, meaning ‘toad’ which, in turn, is derived from how a precursor of craps, called ‘hazard’, was played by people crouched on floors or pavements in seventeenth century France. However, the origins of hazard are believed to be much older. The invention of the game is credited to William of Tyre, during the siege of the castle of Hazarth – after which the games was probably named – in the early twelfth century.
Fast forward five hundred years or so and craps was a simplification of hazard created in France in the late sixteenth century. In the early nineteenth century, the game was introduced to New Orleans by French-American nobleman Bernard de Marigny who, as an errant young man, spent time frequenting the gambling houses of London. In the early years of the twentieth century, John H. Winn, a.k.a. ‘the Father of Modern-Day Craps’, remedied an obvious flaw in the game, by allowing ‘pass’ and ‘don’t pass’ options. His innovation revolutionised craps and encouraged its spread throughout French Louisiana and along the Mississippi River. Fast forward again, to the early Thirties, and the legalisation of gambling in Nevada further increased the popularity of craps and it has remained a rollicking, social game on the tables of Las Vegas ever since.