It is challenging to determine when or where gambling originated. One of the things that we sure know is that it’s at least a 4-millennia old activity, with many believing to have roots dating back to 2300 BC and that it probably originated somewhere in Asia or China. Others, however, believe that cavemen had also been gambling with objects made from animal bones that resembled dice. Of course, gambling didn’t always look like it does today, and it changed various forms throughout history. From the early-age dice, cards, lottery, and modern-day slot clubs, gambling has always been there to keep us company and entertain the bold ones who fear they have nothing to lose. But the whole story of gambling is an interesting one, and it tells a lot about how the nature of people changed throughout the ages.
The earliest forms of gambling
Even though many believe that gambling existed in prehistoric times and that cavemen gambled with objects made from animal bones, the first evidence of gambling takes us to China. The Chinese” Book of Songs” mentions a specific type of tiles that may have been used in a game that resembles lottery. This is also the earliest evidence of gambling, as tiles like these were unearthed in China dating from when the Great Wall of China was built. On the other hand, some sources tell us that the earliest form of gambling as we know it today happened in ancient Greece and that dice were invented by a hero during the siege of Troy. Although this cannot be tracked, the first mention of dice was found in Greek documents from 500BC. On top of that, a pair had been uncovered in an Egyptian tomb dating from 3000BC.
Cards in China, Baccarat in Italy
Many associate gambling with playing cards, and most scholars agree that the first playing cards appeared in China somewhere in the 9th century. This is one of the most important moments in gambling history, even though we don’t know the exact rules used in playing the game. Many historians suggest that these cards were both the game and the stake, which means that the game resembled the trading card games that children play nowadays. Others, however, believe that the cards were paper forms of Chinese domino games.
On the other corner of the world, different types of gambling games were being invented. In the 13th century, Baccarat was invented in Italy and migrated to France and other European countries. Baccarat is one of the earliest games that is still played in casinos today. Despite the same name, the rules of the game evolved from the 1400s until today.
The first casinos
When we’re thinking about gambling, we’re most often thinking about casinos. The earliest casinos or gambling houses (at least the ones that could be compared to today’s ones) originated in Italy in the early 17th century. Ridotto in Venice was, for instance, the first form of a casino that was established to provide a controlled gambling environment during the carnival season. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that casinos started to appear all over continental Europe.
Gambling in the United States
Around the same time, riverboat casinos along the Mississippi attracted people who wanted to gamble and play card games in the United States. At the same time, the territories of the Wild West offered an excellent opportunity for all avid gamblers. While the settlers were discovering gold in California, the cities of San Francisco and New Orleans became the most significant gambling hubs in the United States. The only difficulty was gambling laws that were becoming stricter and stricter over time.
Over time, frontier towns such as Deadwood, Dodge City, Kansas or Denver became famous for their exceptional gambling houses. These were very popular as they had no restrictions – people used to come here to talk, drink, gamble and enjoy piano players, actors and dancing girls who served as prostitutes. The most popular games included poker, faro, brad, three-card monte and dice games.
Online and mobile gambling
At the end of the XXth century, people slowly moved to online gambling. In 1994, Antigua passed the Free Trade and Processing Act, which allowed organizations to open online casinos. This was also the time when software companies developed their first online gambling software, such as CryptoLogic. The first live dealer casinos, though, appeared in 2003 and were courtesy of Playtech.
Today, technological advances let us do so many things online when it comes to gambling. Not only is there a plethora of options to choose from, but it’s also safer than ever, thanks to different regulations and technologies. People prefer to gamble using their mobile devices because of their convenience and plenty of betting options. Online gambling and social platforms are, at the moment, on the same mobile platforms, which makes it entirely convenient for gamblers all around the world to enjoy this endeavour. The mid-2010s was also the time when operators recognized the interaction between social networks and gambling.
Conclusion: What will the future bring?
From animal bones, Chinese playing cards to slot machines – gambling has indeed changed a lot. We are slowly starting to use cryptocurrencies to gamble, and this will only become stronger and stronger in the future. It is believed that blockchain technology will play a tremendous role in determining the way we will gamble in the future.