The History of Gambling: from Mesopotamia till Today

History of Gambling

Gambling has been around for a long time. Although our ancient ancestors did not have technologically advanced games like 7slots has, there were many different entertainments for them. Today, we will plunge into the history of gambling from Mesopotamia to the present times and see how it has evolved.

Ancient Mesopotamia

Based on archeological findings, the earliest gambling days were in Mesopotamian civilization. According to historical experts, the Mesopotamians were the first to have gaming activities, which then moved to China and other parts of Asia.

Some experts say that gambling can be traced as far back as the paleolithic period. People gambled even before they had a writing standard. In Mesopotamia, the ancients used six-sided dice, which dates back to 3,000 BCE.

The gamblers back then created the game based on a practice called Astragalomancy. Some people call it cubomancy. It is a kind of fortune-telling activity or divination. In this spiritual ritual, they used dice that had markings.

Gambling in China

In the first millennium, before the Common Era, it had become common to see betting in China. People placed wagers on fighting animals. There were also variations of the lotto and the domino. The domino eventually became the precursor to a modern game we know now as Pai Gow.

It was during the 9th century when playing cards became common in China. In addition, gambling also spread in Japan as early as the 14th BCE. We can trace the first recorded instance of gambling in China as early as 4,000 years ago. Every Chinese dynasty had a record of gaming activities. From there, the Chinese developed many games that we still play today.

Here are some examples:

  • Pai Gow;
  • Dominos;
  • Lottery Tien Gow;
  • MahJong.

In the 1800s, China was a popular destination for gambling, and Shanghai was the bailiwick of it. Around the same period of time, Macau, being occupied by the Portuguese government, legalized gambling. They did it in 1847 to give the people a means of livelihood and to boost the economy. It was during this period that gambling houses, or dens, flourished. Macau is still one of the primary destinations for gamblers to this day.

Gambling in Rome and Europe

As gambling activities thrived in Asia, European counties also caught on. Even Rome had gambling activities in ancient times. Between 510 and 27 BCE, gambling was generally outlawed or banned in Rome. The reason was that people who lost became too violent. The losses and anger of the gamblers eventually started riots. Some folks even began to suspect that others used magic to ensure victory.

Even so, Roman leaders allowed gambling on some occasions. There were laws that forbid this activity, and the Roman leaders did not like excessive gambling activities.

During the Colosseum Games, it was not unusual for people to wager. Most of the time, the contests were about speed and agility. There were warriors who fought in the arena. The modern equivalent of that today is fighting sports like MMA and boxing. The Colosseum was a massive spectacle of violence. It lasted for 500 years. During these events, about 250,000 travelled to see the event. Nobles and commoners enjoyed the bloody fight between men and animals.

Gambling in the United States

Gambling was already present in the US during the colonial period. At that time, there were no large-scale restrictions on any type of gaming. In the 1680s, the rich people established themselves as some sort of kingpins in gambling, notably horse racing.

In the mid-18th century, religious sects denounced gambling as a sinful activity. It was then that gaming activities were challenged. Even so, wagering was so pervasive that it became a norm in the Old West. In any town where people began to settle, they opened gambling saloons. Also, some rich folks funded lotteries.

In the late 19th century, horse racing became a favourite pastime of Americans. However, it was deemed as an expensive hobby that only the wealthy could afford. Despite that, working-class people were allowed to place bets. Horseracing gave rise to off-track bookmakers.

It was not only the British settlers that brought gambling to the United States. Even the Native Americans had games of chance during their rituals. The most common was the dice in a bowl. In this game, they threw stones or bones with markings. People who participated in this ritual placed wagers before the shaman threw the bones in the bowl.

Gambling has evolved and will continue to do so. It is a part of the human psyche, and even if governments put some restrictions, nothing will change — gaming cannot be eliminated easily from society. Today, gambling is leaning towards technology. It is now possible to wager against real opponents, even if you are not physically with them. A hundred years from now, our technology will become mere artifacts of our time.

Ganesh Kolekar is a graduate and geek. He is the man behind keeping the quality of the posts and manages the content part on the website.

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