Gambling has existed in different forms in almost every culture throughout history. The views and attitudes on gambling have also been different, with some considering it harmless and others considering it dangerous.
The practice’s legality has also varied with time and depends on the customs, morals, and context. It is challenging to figure out the origin of gambling as it dates far back, even before known history.
Types of Gambling
Several types of gambling are present in most cultures worldwide and throughout history. Nonetheless, the primary forms are social gambling, where you play against other players fun. Then there’s real money betting, where you bet for real money.
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Ancient Evidence of Gambling
The practice of gambling dates back even further than history, and it cannot be easy to trace the exact origins. Evidence of gambling practices has been discovered in several regions worldwide, such as Egypt, Greece, China, and Japan, with some dating as far back as 2000BC.
Gambling dice are arguably the oldest implements and were probably invented in Ancient Mesopotamia around 3000BC. Sheep bones, especially the knucklebones, formed the base of the dice. Gambling dice have also been mentioned in several historical manuscripts worldwide, such as the Indian Vedas and even the Bible.
In China, tiles have been discovered that indicate the people used them for playing a game similar to a lottery. Commoners also engaged in betting on animal fights, and even some rulers of China have been recorded as wasting the state’s finances on gambling habits. The government also used Keno slips to source funds in 200BC.
The Ancient Greeks were also very fond of gambling, as evidenced in several Homeric epics where gambling practices are often cited. Greek soldiers were constantly amusing themselves with gambling games, much to the chagrin of the rulers, who banned the practice altogether. The oldest known dice were discovered in Thebes, Egypt.
During the Middle Ages, the status of gambling changed several times over time. Some countries, such as Italy and Germany, legalized gambling, while some, such as France and England, took a firmer stance on gambling. Some rulers, such as King Louis IX, banned the practice altogether.
Historians agree that people used the first playing cards in China in the 9th Century. However, the games played using the cards are still unknown as the cards differ from those used in modern card games. They initially used human forms to decorate the cards, but Kings and Queens were introduced as the games spread across Europe.
During the crusades in the East, Christian powers only allowed those of noble and high rank, such as knights, to gamble. Gambling was considered a reserve for the nobility and a deadly vice for ordinary subjects.
Laws were often put in place to control the practice, limiting the amount of money you could lose. Commoners caught gambling was to face harsh punishment. Returning knights bred horses, which led to the popularity of betting on horse races.
Before the arrival of the first European colonists in the Americas, the Native Americans also had gambling games. The games were considered an integral part of their culture and were often included in tribal ceremonies and festivals. They believed the gods invented the games and were also used to predict the future.
The first gambling house was established in Italy in the 17th Century, with numerous other private gambling dens springing up later. Gambling houses provided more organized and controlled environments for gamblers. Early European settlers also brought different game variations and traditions to the Americas.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, lotteries became a popular fundraising method. It was even used to fund the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Lottery funds were also essential for many civic purposes, with Yale and Harvard being established with lottery funds.
Social betting was common until commercial betting was introduced. Harry Ogden became the first-ever bookmarker in 1795 when he laid the odds and took bets at
the Newmarket horse races. The Great Depression led to the legalization of gambling and the lifting of alcohol prohibition in the United States.
After the federal government lifted restrictions on gambling, several states legalized gambling again as casinos sprouted all over the United States. New and improved versions of casino games were introduced to add more variety to the early casinos. Organized crime was heavily involved in the running of casinos but was eventually replaced by giant corporations.
Gambling has become increasingly mechanized in modern times. It has made the regulation of gambling to be more accurate and effective. Gambling has also been legalized in most countries across the world.
Sittman and Pitt invented the first gambling machine in New York. The video slot machine, considered a front runner for the modern online video slots, was created in 1976 but became widely popular in the 80s.
The development of early online gambling software began in the mid-1990s by Microgaming, one of the largest casino game developers in operation currently. The first virtual casino was introduced in 1994, with Planet Poker becoming the first online poker room to use real money in 1998.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established in 1996 and is responsible for global gaming licenses to most online casinos and poker rooms. It helps regulate the affairs of licensed online gambling organizations.
The current global gambling market is worth almost a trillion dollars and is a top revenue earner. More states in the United States and countries worldwide have eased laws or legalized gambling.
Technological advancements have also led to the rise in mobile gambling among many players. Mobile gambling has led to increased access to online gaming for gamblers. You can access your favorite casino games from the comfort of your home or even on the move.
Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology have also become popular payment methods in casinos. The new technology allows users to make secure payments and increases transparency. Gamblers can also choose to remain anonymous and make instant withdrawals.