The US dollar is the official currency of the United States of America. It is by far the world’s most used currency for international trade and most of the world’s major commodities, such as oil, are priced in US dollars. It also functions as the world’s primary reserve currency, held by foreign governments as an insurance against their own currency’s value fluctuations, and as a means of financing overseas trade.
The story of the American dollar really begins in 1792, shortly after the Revolutionary War confirmed the Declaration of Independence made in 1776. It was then that the newly founded United States Mint issued the first official dollar coins. The design and indeed the name “dollar” were derived from the Spanish dollar, which had been legal tender in the post-colonial America up to that point. The early leaders of the fledgling future superpower were sensitive to any design features which may be reminiscent of their former colonial masters, so a notable feature of the early notes and coins is that they did not contain any portraits of politicians or dignitaries. This was a clear attempt to differentiate their own new democratic currency from the aristocratic and monarchic origin of most European money systems. In fact it was not until the 20th Century that the “heads” side of American coins started to feature historical portraits or profiles. Even now, although many coins feature the faces of former Presidents of the United States, Federal law insists that only deceased individuals may appear on United States’ currency.
The origin of the dollar sign ($) used by many currencies across the world in addition to the American dollar, is a matter of some conjecture. The most likely explanation is that it is derived from the Spanish “peso”, which was the common name for the Spanish dollar which was in circulation in the late 18th Century. This was the currency used by near neighbour Mexico, which was a considerable influence on early American history. Texas, for example, was part of Mexico, and only joined the United States in 1845, becoming the 28th State of the Union at the time. Most of the currency in use in the fledgling United States was minted in Mexico City. The peso was abbreviated to “ps”, and it is suggested that it became common to write the “p” and the “s” over each other, so that the “$” sign appeared.
Other historians have suggested that the new sign was derived from the Pillars of Hercules from the Spanish coat of arms, which was featured on the contemporary Spanish dollar coins. These pillars were represented by two vertical bars (ll), superimposed onto an ‘S’ shaped cloth band. Finally, a widely believed theory is that the dollar sign was a representation of the initials of the new country superimposed on each other. This is an attractive story, but is more than likely to be a popular myth. This is because the sign is believed to have been in popular use well before the United States was actually conceived.
Whatever the truth of the situation, you won’t find too many difficulties if you want to use US dollars to fund your play on your favourite game. Most online bingo sites licenced and registered in the United Kingdom are more than happy to accept dollars as a currency of payment. As are bingo, casino and other online gaming sites across the world. So for Americans based in the UK, and for regular intercontinental travellers, using dollars as a method of payment for your tickets and spins is no problem at all.