The game was christened 'Blackjack' because if a player held a Jack of Spades and an Ace of Spades as the first two cards, the player was paid out extra. So with Spades being black and Jack being a vital card - Blackjack was born. The actual birthplace of Blackjack is somewhat hazy, but it is thought to have probably stemmed from such French games such as "chiming de fer" and "French Ferme". Some claim Blackjack originated in French casinos in the early 1700s where it was called "vingt-et-un" ("twenty-and-one"). It has been played in the U.S. since the 1800's.
Gambling was legal out West from the 1850's to 1910, at which time Nevada made it a felony to operate a gambling game. In 1931, Nevada re-legalized casino gambling where Blackjack became one of the primary games of chance offered to gamblers. As some of you may recall, 1978 was the year casino gambling was legalized in Atlantic City, New Jersey.