A Brief History of Gambling

Card game at a table in a tavern, 14th century.

The history of gambling is inextricably linked with the history of humanity. It is difficult to track every single turn in the evolution of gambling, but archaeological and scientific facts proved that gambling developed throughout the history.

Card game at a table in a tavern, 14th century.

Ancient China is not only about gunpowder, porcelain, silk and the Great Wall of China. This country has also invented the first lottery game to fund the army and other state needs of the Chinese emperors.

Ancient Egypt. During the archaeological excavations, scientists discovered a pair of dice in one of the tombs.

Ancient Greece. According to the Greek poet Sophocles, dice were well-played by soldiers during the decade-long siege of Troy.

Ancient Rome legionaries played dice, betting money, which they earned for the service to Rome. Tight games often ended in hand-to-hand combats with the use of weapons, which badly affected the military discipline and order in the legions. As the result, gambling was forbidden by the senate both for soldiers and for civilians. But who will miss the chance to earn money? Instead of real money, Romans began to use chips and tokens with a nominal value. After all, playing with tokens and chips isn’t a crime. That’s why when the players were caught, they were let go, as instead money they used numbered clay rounds to stake.

Card games

The Celestial Empire outruns other countries again, with the first card deck appeared in the 9th century. It doesn’t clear whether it was a paper domino or cards, as the rules of the game have been lost, but their use in gambling is undeniable. Nowadays there are even a possibility to play games with live dealers.

Baccarat in Italy and France

The first game, brought in casinos, is game of Baccarat, a version of which was first mentioned in 1400s when a little known Italian game became popular in France and later across Europe. The rules of the game changed throughout evolution, and nowadays the casinos use the rules that came from Cuba, via Britain to the US.


Blackjack originated in Spain, and was first mentioned in the book of Cervantes Don Quixote. Then Blackjack began to develop in France and moved to America along with emigrants. Some say that Blackjack was spread by sailors who transported the first settlers.

First casinos

The first casinos appeared in Venice, Italy. It was necessary to outlaw all lovers of gambling from the streets during carnival season, gather them in one room and levy tax, which was done in 1638. After that, gambling houses began to proliferate all over continental Europe. Gambling houses were banned in the USA, but everyone could safely play on wheeled steam ships cruising the Mississippi – it is enough to recall the film Maverick with Mel Gibson.


It is difficult to say who invented poker. Some sources give credits to Persians, others to French people or citizens of New Orleans in the United States. One thing is clear: poker has come out from various card games. The game slowly grew in popularity, and was mostly played by criminals and individual wealth sections of society until 1970, when the first world poker tournament with a huge prize fund was held. Poker’s popularity surged due to the Internet, when a year of 2003 saw the first millionaire who made money by playing online poker. By the way, more info about this card game is available on pokerglobal.info.


Roulette with one green zero appeared in gaming houses and salons of Paris in 1796. After America, roulette got the double zero form. Roulette began to raise in popularity in the 19th century, when the casino Monte Carlo in Monaco placed in its hall a roulette table for visitors.
Gaming machine. The first gaming machine, which remotely resembled the slots, was developed in New York by Mr. Sittman and Pitt in 1891. It contained five drums holding a total of 50 card faces and was based on poker. In the same year, fans of gambling could see a real gambling machine from Charles Fairy called Liberty Bell (Liberty Bell) installed in stores and at the train station of San Francisco. Some modern gaming machines still place a Bell symbol on the drums as a sign of respect for their precursor. The first winnings came in the form of fruit chewing gum and cigarettes.

Over time, food winnings were replaced by money, and then gaming machines flooded the bars, cafes and casino ground floors. The first video slot was developed and released in 1976, and paved the way for the development of gambling sphere around the world.
Today, there is ambivalence towards gambling, and all major countries restricted gambling activities on their territories. Citizens of the United States, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Russia and other countries are prohibited from playing online casinos. In some countries, it is forbidden to let US citizens in real casinos by order of the US Department of Justice. However, gambling industry lives and flourishes. The excellent knowledge of human psychology, who always wish to get rich fast, will help gambling magnates stay afloat for many centuries.

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