The Evolution of Casinos in GTA – 1997 to date

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To many, Grand Theft Auto is one of the most important games of the last 25 years. To others, it is a purposeful courtship with controversy. What is undeniable, however, is that it is one of the highest-selling video game franchises of all time – and it has come a long way from the very beginning.

The first game, released in 1997 by DMA Design, featured a birds-eye view, 2-dimensional universe. Fast-forward to the most recent game, which came out in 2013 by Rockstar North, and it has transformed into a super-HD, expansive and interactive sandbox universe.


Grand Theft Auto (PC/DOS) 1997, DMA Design, BMG Interactive

There are many continuing themes in Grand Theft Auto – for example, the radio stations or the Easter eggs. One lesser-publicised trend, however, has been the inclusion of gambling, resulting in a GTA casino making many appearances over the series.

The subject has seen a lot of attention recently, mostly due to the question: will a GTA online casino ever be made available? However, it all started a lot earlier than 2013…

Grand Theft Auto Casinos Before V

That’s because some of the earlier Grand Theft Auto’s also happened to feature casinos – either as part of the main storyline or as an add-on.

To give you a proper history lesson, we need to head back to 2001.

III (& then IV)

In the first third-person Grand Theft Auto 3, there was Kenji’s Casino. It wasn’t accessible to players, but instead formed part of the main story as your mute protagonist Claude would receive mission commands from the Yakuza boss, Kenji Kansen.

A similar situation then occurred in 2008 for Grand Theft Auto 4. In this case, the GTA casino was accessible – but completely disused – and was merely used for a few Easter eggs.

San Andreas

Although 2002’s Vice City’s was basically bypassed, San Andreas was the game that really introduced gambling and casinos – so much so that Rockstar North actually made a whole Las Vegas-style city: Las Venturas!

In Las Venturas, there were many different casinos. Only three of those were accessible, but the number of games you could play was pretty impressive for a 2004 creation:

  • Blackjack
  • Roulette
  • Slot Machines
  • Video Poker
  • Wheel of Fortune
  • Craps
  • Texas Hold ’em Poker

Whilst playing these games, you can wager your in-game money to win (or lose) even more in-game money. The more you played, the better you became – with the different skill levels of Gambler, Professional, Hi-roller and Whale being achievable.

How to Get Your Gambling Skill Up on San Andreas in 3 Minutes

Playing at a GTA casino on San Andreas often proved to be a quick way to get a bit of extra cash for a new firearm or clothes. Alternatively, it was also a sure-fire way to get loan sharks on your tail – as you could actually borrow money from the mystery “businessman”. If you lost and didn’t pay it back, he’d send hitmen after you whenever you stepped foot in Las Venturas until the money had been returned.

GTA V and Online Casino

When it comes to the newest release, there’s still a lot of speculation and rumour about whether or not there will be a fully working in-game casino.

GTA 5’s Vinewood Casino can be found in East Vinewood, overlooking the racetrack. The building does appear in missions, and when you switch to Trevor there is a scene in which he is actually kicked out of this casino for counting cards.

That it features in this way suggests there’s an inside, but it’s currently off-limits to players


History of “CASINOS” in the Grand Theft Auto Series!

Will the GTA 5 Casino Ever Open?

Perhaps the most intriguing part is that there is an ‘opening soon’ sign hanging over the entrance. We’ve speculated about the meaning of this for many years now, with the hope that it would be a cue for some DLC content further down the line.

Yet, this hasn’t quite happened – and there’s a very possible reason why…

The problem is this: many think that with the introduction of Grand Theft Auto Online and the real-world micro-transactions involved in buying Shark Cards (in-game credit cards), this would ultimately count as genuine online gambling – which is banned in many regions that the Online version operates.

But what about the possibility of a GTA V casino online being made available only in regions where gambling online is legal? Well, truth be told, this would be a monumental undertaking – with game fairness checks, audits, and possibly even real gambling licenses being required. Also, players could simply move locations – or switch on a VPN – to gamble (possibly illegally) before going back. Moreover, it’s no secret that GTA Online hasn’t been completely bulletproof, so the threat of hacks and security weaknesses would always be an issue.

So, while Rockstar does like to push the boundaries to the limit, it’s highly unlikely that they’d go to the length of offering potentially illegal internet gambling within a GTA online casino.

Sorry folks.