The concept of gambling seems to have been around since the beginning of time. No matter where you look in history, there seems to be evidence of gambling. This shows that the modern popularity of gambling is nothing new and that has always been appealing.
Throughout history, gambling has been regulated and banned many times for a variety of reasons. But that hasn’t stopped it from evolving and adapting into the many forms we know today.
In modern times, gambling has gained popularity with online slots real money, and mobile gambling, allowing people to gamble from the comfort of their own homes and on the go.
In this article, we cover the origins of gambling and how some iconic games have come to be.
The earliest record of gambling can be found in ancient China. The Chinese book ‘Book of Songs’ is an anthology of poems that can be dated back as far as the 11th century BCE. This book references a type of wooden tiles which are believed to have been used in a lottery-type game.
The first card game can also be dated back to the 9th century in China and was labeled as the ‘leaf game’ but the rules have been lost to time.
There have also been records in ancient China of rulers wasting state funds on gambling and using Keno slips to source funds.
The first written record of dice is from Ancient Greece. Poet Sophocles wrote about dice being created by a mythical hero during the siege of Troy. His writings stated that people began gambling around 500 BC.
This of course is not true and there were later found to be dice in an Egyptian tomb from 2500 years earlier than Sophocles’ writing.
The ancient Greeks and Romans did enjoy gambling, specifically with personal belongings as wagers.
It was so popular that it was later forbidden in the city of Rome. Anyone caught gambling would have to pay fines that were almost 4 times more than the wagers.
This ban in Rome led to the invention of the first gambling chips as they could state they weren’t gambling with real money if they were caught.
The first gambling house can be dated back to 17th-century Venice. It was either known as the Ridotto or the Casino de Venezia, depending on what scholars you talk to.
It wouldn’t be until 1763 that another casino opens. This one was opened in Belgium and was called Casino de Spa.
When it comes to gambling, there is no doubt that Las Vegas is the heart of it.
It was founded in 1905 and then in 1931 Nevada legalized gambling that changed Las Vegas forever. It really became known as a gambling hot spot after the second world war.
As of 2022, there are over 100 casinos in Las Vegas including the 31 on the main strip.
Baccarat is one of the earliest gambling games that is still played today. It can be dated back as far as the 1400s with the Italians bringing the game to France. It was an extremely popular game amongst the French nobility in the 19th century.
While card games can be dated back centuries, this is recorded as the first time that modern cards have been played in gambling.
The initial version of the game is different from the one we play today as it was commonly played with 3 people until the more common 2-person game was created.
There are many discussions on when and where blackjack is from but the general consensus is that it comes from the Spanish game called veintiuna (which translates to 21).
Veintiuna is referenced in the book ‘Rinconete y Cortadillo’ which was written between 1601 and 1602. It would later be brought to Britain in the 1770s and 1780s.
The roulette wheel is probably the most recognized game in gambling. Similar to baccarat, the roulette wheel can be dated back to France in the 18th century.
The original French model had red for single 0s and black for double 0s. The modern roulette wheel known as the American model is based on this.
The first slot machines had card suits on the rollers and were almost like poker machines. These weren’t regulated and it was up to a physical person to hand out winnings.
It wouldn’t be until the 1890s that they would begin to resemble the machines we know today. The Liberty Bell not only introduced the iconic bell symbol on slot machines but also regulated winnings with the biggest payout being if you landed on 3 bells.
The first video slot was created in 1976 which heavily influenced the online gambling scene we see today.
Gambling will continue to adapt and innovate as technology advances. The popularity of online gambling shows how rapidly gambling can evolve in a short amount of time.
Despite its rapid progression, the most popular casino games have a long and rich history that has already stood the test of time.