Since the dawn of civilization people have enjoyed gambling on games of chance and skill. There are archeological and anthropological evidence from ancient China dating back to 2300 B.C. and ivory dice that were found in excavations in Greece from 1500 B.C. Through carvings, writings and archeological artifacts it can be established that most ancient cultures provided some form of gambling for their people.
From Egypt through India and ancient Europe, all the way to ancient American civilizations on one side of the world and Asian cultures on the other side of the world; people have always enjoyed the entertainment and fun that gambling has provided.
Most modern gambling games can have their roots traced back to ancient times. For example card games such as Poker and Blackjack can be traced back to the practice of shuffling money notes from 900 B.C. China that has slowly evolved into card playing. These games were later on brought to Europe by the Mamlukes who were Muslim so they were not allowed to have their cards carry human images. Instead they were decorated with intricate designs.
When playing cards finally made their way to Southern Europe and became popular in monarchies such as Spain and Italy, cards were given a more human feel and represented royal hierarchy in the characters it was adorned with and when playing cards reached France the notation of Prince (Jack), Queen and King became a standard in playing cards and formed the basis for the generic 52-card deck we are familiar with today.
Europe has a rich history of settling foreign and domestic disputes using gambling. When kings and Emperors could not agree they often turned to gambling to help them reaching a resolution. Like the famous story about the kings of Sweden and Norway who could not agree on who should claim the area of Hising. When they met they were unable to reach a diplomatic solution and turned to dice to help settle the dispute. The Swedish king has lost but the parties parted on good terms.
There are even stories of gambling being banned as it was so popular and some monarchs saw it as a distraction. For example King Henry VIII who prohibited his troops from taking part in gambling games so they are not distracted from their military duties.
Over the years more games have been created such as the Roulette game, which roots are somewhat ambiguous and some credit it to the French and others to the Chinese and that it traveled to Europe with Dominican monks. However the game’s popularity did not peak until Prince Charles of Monaco has introduced the game into gambling halls of his little kingdom as a means of generating revenue for Monaco.
In America gambling has been popular since it became an independent country and used gambling as a means for generating income for the state. Many people mistakenly think that mobsters like Bugsy Siegel who built the first casino in Las Vegas and other mobsters that came before him and acted as bookies are responsible for the burst of gambling in the US, when in fact it was the state itself that used gambling in the 18th century.
Later on gambling was made illegal in most US states and it wasn’t until the early 20th century that states like Nevada made gambling legal again as a means of generating revenue for the state.
Gambling is one of the common threads that connect humans from all over the world and from different eras and civilizations and shows us that people are more similar than different no matter what their cultural background is. All humans require recreational activities and the excitement that gambling has and can provide.