People have gambled for as long as civilization has existed. It’s a relatively safe way to get your heart pounding by introducing a small amount of risk into your life, with the possibility of winning something for your trouble, of course.
Throughout this short history of gambling, you’ll see how the practice has developed from ancient China and Mesopotamia to the modern-day, where the latest blockchain technology is being combined with the industry. Online gambling is also mentioned here. You can see online gambling at work at https://www.stardustcasino.com and similar gambling sites.
We don’t know when gambling as a practice started in human history. Like with so many historical practices, nobody thought to write the first occurrence of gambling down, they were preoccupied with other things.
That said, the oldest examples we have come from ancient China and Iran. Gambling has been identified in every Chinese dynasty, starting in the Xia Dynasty some 4,000 years ago. That’s the oldest known instance of gambling though there are probably older practices that we don’t know yet and may never know.
Modern gambling practices like lotteries, mahjong, and pai gow have origins in China. The first playing cards are thought to have come from 9th Century China, too. Even back then, provincial governors would take a cut of profits of the games they’d allow to be played in their realm.
As for Egypt, that’s where we have found the oldest dice. They were found at Shahr-i Sokhta, or The Burnt City, a Bronze Age site in modern-day Iran. Dice were thought to be a trinket used by fortune-tellers and others who claimed magical ability but gradually became a gambling object. Dice were ubiquitous, having been excavated in ancient Scotland, the Indus Valley Civilization, Greece, Rome, and Japan, all independently of one another.
Speaking of Greece and Rome, pottery from those civilizations seems to indicate that gambling was available for animal fights and chariot races. Around 600 BC, the first Roman circuses took place where bets were encouraged and craps were played with old Roman dice.
Gambling In The Renaissance
Gambling continued throughout human history but the next historical landmark occurred during the Renaissance period. This is where certain European societies had to decide to allow or forbid gambling and decide how regulated the games ought to be.
The first regulated casino was Il Ridotto in Venice, Italy. It was made in 1638 to create a stable gambling environment since the carnivals at Venice allowed such games, which were illegal to play at other times and other places in the city. After a century of operation and paying heavy taxes, the Ridotto was closed after stricter gambling laws in the 1700s.
During that timeframe, the first French casinos were established in Paris and organized gambling spread through continental Europe. The roulette wheel was established there and other games, like vingt-et-un, have their origins in Spain and France. The taxation gains were made clear for local governments, paving the way for acceptance despite the Church’s disapproval at the time.
Gambling In The United States
As the New World took form, lotteries were used to fund the original 13 Colonies that would become the United States of America. Jamestown seems to have conducted lotteries the most out. Horse race betting also took place in Virginia and was used as a meeting place for the social elite, where formal codes and shared values were established. In 1769, restrictions on gambling were added to the list of grievances toward the British Crown.
French settlers brought roulette and vingt-et-un to the US early into its lifespan and Mississippi steamboats became popular gambling venues. As industrialization took hold of the USA in the 20th Century, gambling machines were invented in New York and San Francisco.
As the Internet developed, the logical next step was to take the gambling online. Relaxing legislation was instrumental to many of these organizations and, in response, the USA and many other countries scrambled to introduce protective legislation against fraudsters.
With the rise of cryptocurrencies and the tech used to facilitate them, the blockchain is being studied for gambling applications. The future of gambling is likely to take place on the blockchain, where cryptocurrencies can replace chips and all transactions are transparent, anonymous, instantaneous, and cost everybody less.
Blockchain projects that use metaverses and other VR worlds allow for the possibility of digital casinos in the future too, staffed by real people but conducted anonymously and safely via cryptocurrency.