A Brief History of Gambling

History of Gambling

There‘s a lot of evidence that gambling games existed in ancient times. From tiles found in China dating from 2300 BC and ivory dice found in Egypt from 1500 BC to gambling paraphernalia belonging to Bronze Age Greek soldiers, it’s clear that gambling is as old as civilization itself.

The Romans wrote about gambling, recounting stories of peasants and emperors gambling with dice, and documents have even been found telling of huge gambling debts and the fights that broke out over them. While evidence of any early Roman online poker room scandals is thin on the ground (it can only be a matter of time, eh?) there is evidence of loaded dice, found in the ruins of Pompeii dating back to 79 AD, shortly before the city got buried in a million tons of hot lava and ash when Vesuvius blew.

And it was well-documented that two kings named Olaf, one Norway’s ruler, the other Sweden’s, rolled dice to determine how territory should be divided.

Gambling has come a long way since Ancient Egypt, with the online gambling world continuously growing in 2015 and beyond. Join the rich history of gambling by trying one of our recommended sites, offering benefits that include:

  • Safe & secure banking options
  • Brilliant range of games
  • An understanding of users’ needs, from years in industry

The Oldest Poker Chips in History?

Gambling in the old days was a little different to your average trip to Vegas, with everything from rocks, sticks and bones being used as ‘chips’, but there is evidence of the first playing cards being used in China around the 9th Century AD. They then spread through Asia, and Mahjong tiles and dominos evolving later. Playing cards then traveled to Egypt and ultimately Europe in the 14th century, with a 52-card deck becoming standard at that time as well.

Modern Day Gambling: The Pioneers

Gambling History

By the 18th century, European lords were filling gambling dens playing games like the French game, Vingt et Un, an early form of Blackjack. The British, French, and Italians then developed what is now known as Poker. Both games, as well as Roulette, became popular in America when the early settlers arrived. One possibility surrounding poker is that is evolved from the German game, Pochen, meaning ‘to bluff’.

With settlers arriving from all over the world, playing a wild array of card games, dice and roulette in saloons and bars, and on riverboats across the United States, the games became part of the American psyche during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today many of the established games played in live and online casinos originated from those early pioneers.

“There are now hundreds of companies operating in countries around the world.”

The Arrival of the Casinos

The first slot machine was developed in the late 1800s, with three spinning reels and five symbols. Gamblers quickly saw the benefits of such machines, and they were being mass produced for saloons and corner markets in the early 1900s. As brick-and-mortar casinos became more and more popular, the range of games expanded, offering both traditional table and card games to the new slot machines, and casinos became what they are today - billion dollar businesses. From the Las Vegas to Macau, land-based casinos still pull in the gamblers and make fortunes.

Modern Day: The Online Gambling Boom

Gambling History

The first software developed to put gambling online came in 1994, with Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean the first nations to enact free trade agreements for online casinos. With those early deals, the stage was set for the billion-dollar digital industry we see in 2024.

The first online casino was launched in 1994, and two years later the first gaming commission was established in Canada by the Mohawks in the Kahnawake territory just outside Montreal. Slowly it began to issue gaming licenses to oversee the industry.

Regulation and the Future…

From 15 online gambling websites operating in 1996 to more than 200 one year later, the industry saw an immediate boom with the popularity of Internet gaming in countries around the world. Some nations began to regulate - or try to prohibit - the industry, but many (including the United States with its tempestuous gambling love/hate relationship) are still in the process of trying to determine what types of laws should allow, prohibit, regulate or tax the online gambling companies.

There are now hundreds of companies operating in countries around the world. In 2008, it was estimated that global gambling revenue was approximately $21 billion. With internet gambling getting more accessible and popular all the time, expect that figure to grow and grow.