The Origins of Gambling

From ancient civilizations, through glitzy casinos, to the digital playgrounds of today, the history of gambling is a story as old as time, always filled with the thrill of high stakes, the buzz of excitement in the air, and endless innovation in the games we play and how we play them.

So, let's rewind the clocks way back to the ancient days of yore to begin a grand journey through the history of gambling and see how our ancestors rolled.

Ancient Beginnings

Our story begins in the dusty annals of ancient history, where the roots of gambling stretch back to the dawn of civilization. The earliest-known six-sided dice came from ancient Mesopotamia and date back to around 3000 BC.

Even before the invention of purpose-made dice, the talus bones (part of the ankle) of hooved animals were used in gaming, as well as in the ancient dice-based method of fortune-telling known as astragalomancy.

It would be thousands more years before the Chinese revolutionised gaming in the 9th century with the creation of the first playing cards. Perhaps the oldest known card game from this era is yezi ge, which translates to 'The Game of Leaves'. Our knowledge of the game today is incomplete, but some believe that it was played more like dominoes than any card games we would recognise today.

Renaissance and Revolutions

Gambling flourished during the Renaissance period in Europe. In the 1400s, it was a hugely popular social activity over which players from all social strata bonded.

In 1638, the Western world's first official casino, the Ridotto, opened its doors in Venice, Italy. It was a social mixing pot where the wealthy elite rubbed shoulders with artists and adventurers, all united by their love of risk and reward.

Over in America, gambling found a new home in the colonies and went on to become a rich part of the cultural history, from the iconic saloons for the Wild West to the riverboat casinos of the Mississippi. This era saw the creation of some of the most popular games that endure to this day, such as Poker and Blackjack.

Modern Marvels

The 20th Century brought about enormous changes and advancements in the world of gambling, as modern industrialisation reshaped the business of gambling into what we know today.

Las Vegas, once an isolated desert outpost, bloomed into a neon-lit oasis of glamour and excess. The rise of mega-casinos like the Flamingo and the Sands transformed Sin City into the gambling capital of the world, making the activity a titanic force in global pop culture.

With the rise of the internet came the rise of online gambling, which began in 1994 with ticketing for the Liechtenstein International Lottery, and in 1996, InterCasino became the first online casino to accept a real money wager.

The Future of Gambling

Looking to the future of gambling, emergent technologies such as AI and cryptocurrency stand poised to transform gambling's future, while trends such as mobile gaming and esports betting continue to grow. But regardless of how far technology develops the core appeal of gambling remains.

So whether you're rolling the dice at a brick-and-mortar casino table, placing a sports bet through your phone, or playing slots from your laptop, there's a millennia-old history behind the fun you're having.