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Two classic dice games that never go out of fashion

Today’s average American family spends about $3,000 per year on leisure activities. It points at an industry that turns over almost $400 billion in the USA alone, and that is growing at a CAGR approaching 18 percent.

When we see numbers like that, our minds naturally turn to the more innovative forms of leisure like freemium online games or movie streaming subscriptions. They certainly have their part to play, but as many families look to tighten their belts and moderate their spending on leisure activities, many traditional games have been rediscovered – and they don’t get any more traditional than dice games.

Rolling the bones – the original game

Dice are the oldest gaming implements known to man. The first dice were knucklebones polished and filed to approximately similar shapes with markings in each side. These date back to the bronze age, meaning people have been playing dice games for about 5,000 years.

The exact rules of those long ago games have been lost in the sands of time. But we still use the phrase “rolling the bones” to mean playing dice games, and historian David Schwartz even used it as the title for his encyclopedic history of gambling. Here, we look at two dice games that are as rewarding to play in 2023 as they have ever been.

Backgammon – the family classic

A generation ago, every household had a backgammon set in it, and everyone “more or less” knew how to play. If backgammon has fallen off your leisure agenda or never been on it, it is definitely something you should discover, or rediscover.

Backgammon dates back about 500 years – making it a relative newcomer in the world of dice and table games. That actually shows through in the simplicity of the rules. In some ways, backgammon is as strategically nuanced as chess, but it takes much less time to learn the rules so it’s a game anyone can start playing straight away.

Craps – a US casino classic with colonial roots

Games don’t come more American than craps. Famously, the game was first played on the streets of Louisiana, introduced to the “social underclasses” by Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, the gambling-mad son of a wealthy land baron, who was definitely an early pioneer of the leisure industry.

These days, craps is one of the most popular table games in casinos across the USA. It’s also a favorite online, where live craps provides all the excitement of a real casino craps table but from the comfort of your home.

The game itself, however, dates back much further, all the way to the Crusades almost 1,000 years ago. Sir William of Tyre is credited with inventing craps in 1125. He was a military leader during the Crusades, and came up with the idea of a dice game as a way to keep his soldiers motivated and distracted from the terrible living conditions while they were laying siege to a castles in France.