The Long and Fascinating History of Gambling – From the Earliest Beginnings to Today


As humans, we have been fascinated by and attracted to gambling. No matter how far back in time we go, there is evidence of people coming together to gamble. Dice are believed to have been invented some 40,000 years ago, for instance, and most ancient civilizations would place bets on animal fights. The timeline of gambling is a fascinating one, with a number of time periods being particularly important. However, let’s take a look at the very early beginnings of gambling, and what it looks like today. This will give a clear picture of how far it has come.

The Early Beginnings

It is believed that gambling began around the time that humans first started to use tools. Naturally, there is no recorded history of that time, so it can only be guessed. However, there is recorded evidence from Ancient China, where tiles have been discovered showing that a chance game was being played. In the ‘Book of Songs’, Chinese writers reference something called ‘the drawing of wood’. It would appear, therefore, that they played a type of rudimentary form of lottery.

Other archeological evidence shows strips from around 200 B.C. that seem to have been used in an early form of keno. Recorded evidence show that these games were developed by the government, who would use the revenue to fund state works. In fact, some suggestions are that this helped to pay for the construction of the Great Wall of China. The Chinese seemed to have continued to use the lottery to fund various civil works, something copied the world over. Did you know, for instance, that both Harvard and Yale were established using funds from a lottery, and that this practice still continues today?

The Modern World

Fast forward several thousand years, and we see what we have today. Resorts like the Bicycle Hotel and Casino are sprouting up all over the world. But the greatest change of all is that people now use mobile gaming to gamble. Internet users all over the world are bored with their desktops and use their handheld devices instead. Online gamblers can now use their smartphones to play while commuting to work, or whenever they want. This need has been recognized by game developers, and thousands of online casinos with mobile apps now exist.

To some, it seems surprising that things have developed so quickly. For so many years, people gambled using dice, cards, and animals, and suddenly everything is available on a mobile device. However, in actual fact, those mobile devices still offer exactly the same types of gambling games: cards, dice, animals, and perhaps slots and the roulette. As such, nothing much has changed since the early days of Chinese gambling. The only real difference is that it has kept up with technological developments. The odds are still the same, the attraction is still the same, and the fact that gambling is tightly government-regulated doesn’t look like it will ever change either.