Finance Magazine

The History of Gambling

Posted on the 08 June 2021 by Nicolas

Gambling has long been in record within the history books. If you go back in time, you will see the hints and styles of gambling that have evolved slowly, to the sophisticated options that we particularly enjoy playing in the present day. The earliest evidence of gambling dates back during China at around 2300 B.C. In fact, card games were very much first hinted at in China itself again, but not until later during the 9th century. Poker and social parties which boomed in the 1800’s heavily formed the poker strategy and concept of poker nights that we have become so fond of.

Knowing the history of gambling makes it so much more interesting and heightens further our enthusiasm to gamble. Many gamblers today are not aware of the extent that history has influenced our gambling behaviours and passions, so it is always interesting to explore how history shaped our attitudes in gambling. Gambling touches the histories of renaissance France, Texas and the Wild West, and even the isolated regions of China and the Silk roads. Prep yourself for an intriguing historical lesson ahead, we will definitely be doing a little bit of traveling across the globe to touch on the history of gambling.

The Earliest Records 

In 2300 B.C. there is historical evidence of the prominence of gambling within Ancient China. Archaeologists managed to uncover and unearth tiles which resemble a game played upon chance. Correlate this to songs and traditional scriptures of Ancient Chinese culture and it is seen that the tiles sought actually uncover some form of a lottery game. There is even further evidence of Keno being used during 200 B.C. by the work forces behind the great wall of China. Keno was used by civilians tasked to build the wall, as a form of entertainment. Of course, the principles of the game have altered and swayed since the thousands of years previously, nevertheless it has managed to evolve into quite the game for many today.

Ancient Rome 

From the records of the poet Sopocles, writings from 500 B.C. state that there is a mention of a dice game which is believed to have been sourced from the Egyptians, after evidence recovery from within a tomb. Ancient Rome has long loved the entertainment that was brought from gambling, and while gambling was only for the high class with social status, records further to date, from Aristotle explained how Romans and Greeks jumped at any chance to be able to gamble in all manners of ways. Should those outside of high society be found gambling illegally, there was a penalty of a huge fine that was often found to be four times higher than whatever was used to stake within the first place. It is rather humorous, considering that gambling was invented by commoners in the first place, but unfortunately those were the rules that needed to be adhered to.

China Playing Their Cards Right

We have to mention China again, as later on in history, during the approximate period of 800 A.D. card gambling had become a concept so widely used as a form of entertainment. The actual rules however were unfortunately lost within history, yet nevertheless historians believed that these specific card games were in fact ones similarly compared to trading ones used today by children. Historians now believe the card game was very similar or had a resemblance to what we refer to dominos today. Yet as time went on, with a loss of hard artefacts to prove such ideas, things are not hard facts and certain.

Italian Baccarat 

Baccarat is a game that so many of us today love, that is a fact. While many do not already know this, Baccarat has been around from as early as the 1400s within the regions of Italy and France. It is believed the version played before is slightly different to today’s variant, as the game changed as it evolved through the ages of cultural influence. The standard that is used around the world today, came all the way from Cuba and Britain, meaning there have been many changes made to the Mediterranean variants. While it is considered more of a spectator sport than that of a game, it has built a huge following and love within the gambling community. Gamblers from all over the world love it immensely!

Blackjack Through the Ages

Blackjack was suggested back in the years 1600 and so on. Although, at the time it did go by a different name completely. It was called Ventiuna, translating to 21 in English, and was written as a fictional game at first, by the author Don Quixote. This book is what established the game in essence, as it was then to be explored within the neighbouring regions of Spain, from France to Italy etc. While the name of the game did alter and change, it was the variant from France that had traveled across the seas to reach the US region, where you can imagine, it really did blow up in popularity! 

Blackjack became a term made up from the regions of America, and it was not until the year 1930, that it actually first popped up within the casinos of Nevada state, Las Vegas. To gain popularity for the new game, the odds to play were 10 to 1, and that is what allowed the regions of devoted players to thoroughly blossom into what is seen today.

The Little Wheel of Paris

Roulette is a game that originated within Paris, during the late 1700s. Before it became known as the term we call it today, it was referred to as the Wheel of Paris. The variant in France however, was one that we would know today as the American variant. The European and French variants with a single zero pocket, were only developed later on during the late 19th century within the famous regions of Monte Carlo. Despite the rest of Europe sticking to the single zero variation of Roulette, America pretty much kept the double zero and rolled with that option as their choice of preferred game!

Poker Boom 

Poker is of course the history that we are all here for, isn't it? It is believed that it first came to be during the mid 1800s, and grew organically across the decades. There are even hints of this game across the 17th century within the Persian region, where it was later taken by the French and named as Poque. We do know for a fact however, that the game was solidly placed within the regions of New Orleans and played by socialites and parties within the 1820s. Yet, it was not until the 1970s that tournaments had really boomed within the regions of the USA, especially within the Nevada state. Poker had begun to be televised and spectators watched and marvelled at the game politics behind the scenes of playing. 

The term what we now know as ‘Poker Face’ was invented within the Wild West, were in the late 1800s, it had begun such a common poker term used, for players who wanted to win everyone out of their money.

Present Day

This all brings us to the present day. We now can all say that we enjoy the spoils of our gambling fruits from not just the blessings of casino venues, but we also have the possibility of gambling from our iPhone mobile phones! If only the avid gamblers of the past can see how far we have managed to come to today? There is everything from virtual promotions, to having thousands of gambling options that are all accessible from the touch of a finger. Now, that is what we call evolution.


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