The history of video games simply cannot be told without talking about Sega, one of the most influential companies in the early days of arcade games and the creator of some of the most successful consoles and gaming franchises of the 80s and 90s.

But what most people don’t know about Sega is that before pivoting fully to the video game business, their original trade was manufacturing and distributing coin-operated amusement machines to military bases, specifically slot machines and jukeboxes.

Their relationship with casino games didn’t stop there, however. Even after they became a video game company, Sega always maintained an affinity for the games that paved their road to success, creating multiple titles throughout the years that allowed players to enjoy their favourite money games using their favourite console.

Designed with an adult demographic in mind, Sega’s casino games were to appeal to the parents everywhere, giving them the chance to enjoy more mature games they could enjoy after the kids were asleep.

Let’s take a look at some of Sega’s most memorable casino video games through the ages.

Pachinko (SG-1000)

Pachinko SG-1000 game-play screenshot

Released all the way back in 1983 on the SG-1000 – Sega’s first console exclusive to the Asian market – Pachinko was Sega’s first ever “gambling” video game.

Based on the Pachinko machines that are hugely popular in Japan, this simplistic game would allow players to try their luck in one of these pinball-like machines, earning points for the ball landing on certain sections of the machine.

Unfortunately, the first version of the game had a major game-crashing bug that caused it to be recalled, only for it to later be fixed and re-released as Pachinko II. Of course, this game-breaking bug has only made the game more valuable in the eyes of collectors.

The SG-1000 Pachinko would not be Sega’s last incursion with this game, however, as they earned over $1 billion in 2016 alone with their physical Pachinko machines.

Casino Games (Master System)

Sega Casino Games 1989 by Master System

While Sega pandered to Japanese gamblers with Pachinko in 83, it wasn’t until 1989 that Sega finally released their first true casino video game. Casino Games featured a total of five games; three card games -Poker, Blackjack and Baccarat – and two arcade games – a Slot Machine and Pinball, giving players a more well-rounded casino experience than any video games had offered before.

Taking place in the virtual casino “Club Sega”, players were given a budget of $500 to play with and the objective of turning it into a cool million and leaving the casino a rich man.

While the games were well constructed and played very well, Casino Games was criticized for not offering more variety of games, and for including Pinball while ignoring casino classics like Roulette – a fact easily explained through Sega’s origins.

Caesar’s Palace (Genesis)

Caesars's Palace for Sega Genesis game-play screenshot

A titled licensed from the famous Caesar’s Palace casino in Las Vegas, Sega Genesis’ Caesar’s Palace was one of the most complete and fun casino video games of the 90s.

Released in 1993, Caesar’s Palace managed to capture more of the casino culture than just the games. While it featured a fantastic collection of casino games including roulette, blackjack, slot machines, Keno, horse racing, video poker and Red Dog, Caesar’s Palace’s greatest achievement was giving players a taste of the gambler’s lifestyle.

Not only would the game allow you to talk to NPC who would give you clues on how to win big and tips on living the casino lifestyle, but it would also give you the chance to join a VIP room once you had won enough money.

At the end of the day, how much you won would determine if you went back home in a Limo, a taxi or a bus.

Sega Casino (Nintendo DS)

Sega Casino for Nintendo DS cover

Fast forward to 2005. Sega has lost its foothold on the console business, and has transitioned to becoming solely a third party game developer, creating games for their former competitor’s consoles rather than competing with them in the console war.

Created for the Nintendo DS, Sega Casino follows Sega’s tradition of creating fantastic casino video games aimed at the adult market. Featuring 11 casino games, Sega Casino covers classics such as Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, Baccarat, and 7 Card Stud Poker.

All games are controlled using the DS touchscreen, and games like Roulette perfectly fit its two screen system – with the wheel featured on the top screen and the betting options at the bottom screen.

Players can choose 3 different game modes: Free Mode, Game Mode and Multiplayer – the latter allowing you to play Blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em and 7 Card Stud with up to 4 other players.

The Game mode will give you $2500 to start with, which you will need to use to build your capital and unlock more tables with different games and different betting limits, until you become the high roller that you always knew you were.

Sega Slots (Android and iOS)

Sega Slots App in-game

Following the footsteps of Zynga, in 2018 Sega decided to try and earn a piece of the free to play mobile social casino market by launching Sega Slots. Controversially, Sega Slots features a number of different slot machines themed with some of the company’s most iconic IP, including Sonic, Shinobi, Super Monkey Ball and Golden Axe.

Boasting eight unlockable slot machines, Sega Slots offered players the chance to play slots in multiplayer mode, teaming up to 7 players as they competed for jackpots together.

While the game itself was positively reviewed, Sega Slots was harshly criticized for its use of classic family-friendly Sega characters in a bid to appeal to player’s nostalgia and familiarity to get them into gambling and in app purchases – particularly as the game was age-rated for 12 year olds and up.

Ultimately SEGA Networks decided to shut down just 12 months after its launch.

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