Although some people think gambling is a modern way of recreational activities, the truth is, it’s just as old as humanity itself.
There are several pieces of evidence throughout our history to people enjoying gambling. Regardless of the cultures or geographical location betting on events with uncertain outcomes have been around forever.
The earliest evidence comes from Ancient China and is more than 4,000 years old. During excavation’s in the region, researchers found tiles which appeared to be tools to gamble with. The oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry, the ‘Book of Songs’ to the “drawing of wood” which seems to be an ancient game, similar to the lottery.
According to the Greek poet Sophocles, dice were invented during the Troyan war, even though we have no proof of this. However, only the fact that the poet mentioned dice serves as evidence that the game is at least 2,500 years old since he was living in the 5th-century bc. Even earlier than this time, a pair of dice has been discovered in an Egyptian tomb from 3000bc.
Some people think that the genius of gambling comes from the invention of chips, which makes it easier – and more fun – to place bets. As it appears this great innovation comes from the ancient Rome where gambling was prohibited. The Roman citizens quickly realized they have to find a way to make the activity innocent and invented playing chips in order to convince the guards.
What about the first game of cards, you might ask. It is believed, that roots of playing cards go back to China, around the age of the 8th century. There are several theories on what the rules of the games were, but it is certain that Chinese gamblers were the first ones to use cards to play.
One of the fanciest games of today’s age is baccarat. It was first mentioned in the 1400s’ Italy and then became popular in France as well. The rules of the game were completely different back then. The game as we know it today came from Cuba and spread around the world through the US.
Even those who rarely show up in a casino, know blackjack. It was first mentioned in a book written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (author of Don Quijote) in 1601. Some people believe the origins of the game go back even further in time, but it’s really hard to tell the exact date since these games were rarely mentioned in the written forms.
With all the aforementioned games already existing, it’s natural that places were established where people could play them in a controlled environment. The first casino – called the Ridotto – opened in 1638 in Venice. From that point, casinos started to spread all over Europe, while remained illegal in the US for several decades.
Roulette first appeared in 1796 in Paris, with double zeros on the wheel (just like American roulette today). They later changed the game to the one zero version of it and it started to be the standard across Europe after the Monte Carlo casino inducted it.
When it comes to poker it’s even harder to find the origins. Some believe that poker came from the 17th century Persia, while others think its roots belong to French. The first information we know for fact is that poker was played in New Orleans in 1829 but didn’t become too popular until the World Series of Poker kicked off in the 70’s.
Messrs Sittman is the person, you can be thankful for if your game of choice is the one-armed bandit, because he developed the game at the end of the 19th century. This machine is the forefather of all the slot machines we know today.
Casinos became accepted and legalized worldwide in during the 20th century. Nowadays we have several options to chose from in every city – except for some places where gambling is prohibited because of cultural traditions.
In 1994 the first online casino opened and online gambling became a multi-billion dollar industry in a wink of an eye. Today there is more than a thousand online casino to play at. Even those who are suspicious about virtual gambling found their place, where live dealer casinos appeared in 2003 – closing the gap between live and online sphere.
The 21st century brought the industry to an even higher level, allowing players to play on their mobile devices, while on the road. The gambling business is growing rapidly today and it’s safe to say, that it won’t slow down anytime soon.