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What was Gambling like in Ancient Times

Gambling represents an activity that has been in the public domain for a very long time. Inquisitive minds would certainly like to find out what the earliest types of gambling were and what the origin of gambling games is. 

The majority of players tend to consider gambling a modern trend that has taken over our lives. Nevertheless, it should be mentioned gambling is one of the earliest forms of getting entertained. Civilizations from the distant past used to enjoy playing various kinds of gambling games. So, in one form or another, this way of spending your leisure time has been in our lives for many centuries. 

One is interested to learn how gambling originated among different nations in ancient times. Here is our list of countries where playing gambling games was an ordinary and still engaging means to have a blast. 

Gambling in China 

It is commonly believed ancient gambling started in China and then it spread around the globe. The first paper was invented exactly in this Asian country. The creation helped people launch paper money. Sooner or later, the nation came up with the idea of shuffling money. That is how card shuffling originated. 

Keno is the most related to China gambling game. This game is played with special cards numbered from 1 to 80. Each player used to pick particular numbers and then a draw took place to name those numbers that won in the game. The history of keno stems back to more than 2,000 years ago and some studies outline that the initial name to keno was ‘white pigeon ticket’. By the beginning of the 10th century, Chinese people devised human form card games. 

Gambling in Ancient Greece 

Definitely, gambling existed in ancient Greek times. However, opinions regarding gambling were divided. A lot of philosophers were of the opinion that the idea of gambling is a plague and that it should be forbidden. Nevertheless, there were two Gods connected with gambling games. Pan and Hermes were involved in gambling, whilst another two great Gods like Zeus and Poseidon were throwing dice. It was needed to separate the Universe between two Gods. 

Besides, Greeks themselves were relishing Heads and Tails and Checkers. During the Roman tenure, checkers were called ‘Game of 12 lines’. Originally, people used to play heads and tails with a shell, but some time later players replaced a shell with a coin. More than that, Greek artefacts found prove that betting was thriving in the region. For example, residents made wagers on dog and chicken fights. 

And what about dice, the most favourite gambling game in Greece? According to some researches, Greeks used 3 cubes made from clay, whereas Romans omitted one cube to make the game with 2 dice. 

Gambling for Emperors

Ancient Emperors really enjoyed participating in gambling games. Emperor Augustus was suffering from multiple losses, for example. The ruler was literally on the brink of gambling addiction. Another proper example is Emperor Commodus. He had a destructive gambling addiction as well. One day he even found himself in financial jeopardy. Another remarkable illustration is Emperor Nero. He relished not only gambling but sports events too. But to be fair, we don’t have much information and arguments in regards to games Emperors were playing at that time. Traditionally, throwing dice and betting on sports were the most popular gambling activities for Emperors. 

Gambling in America 

It was a striking discovery when several archaeologists found an ancient cave somewhere in Utah. It is believed that the place served as a casino for native American people. Arguably this is the original version of a casino established within the US territory. Various findings show gambling in North America stems back to the beginning of the 13th century. And that cave contained no less than 10,000 different gambling symbols. Carved sticks were among those attributes discovered in the cave. Americans used to throw those sticks and make a guess whether each stick lands face-down or face-up. Multiple archaeologists suggest such a ritual was being used by women to assign duties. For instance, dice made from cane were utilised to give different tasks, such as sewing or meat butchering. One can be amazed by the fact men were taking part in throwing sticks on the results of women’s gambling sessions. 

Gambling in Egypt 

The presence of ancient artefacts only proves that gambling existed in Egypt. Plenty of objects were found when excavating the surface. Firstly, archaeologists discovered a dice game in Thebes made of elephants’ tusks. Secondly, scientists identified a game that vaguely resembles checkers.

HUBEM-how is another gambling game that is thought to have been popular in Egypt. Players used to throw special disks in a bowl one after another. These disks were crafted with different substances to amplify complexity while throwing. To be honest, the game is still in high demand in several societies.

After delving into studying the papyri, it becomes obvious that gambling in Egypt is not a myth. These documents date to 3000 BC and encompass laws to prevent gambling from spreading in the country. So, these prohibitions prove yet again that gambling needed to be stringently controlled. 

Other Ancient Gambling Games 

Let’s briefly mention some other casino games which history dates back to the distant past.

  • Faro. Cowboys used to gather around the playing table and play the game that combined roulette with a traditional 52-card deck
  • Hazard. That is a kind of dice game with 6 pieces to throw. Used to be played 7 centuries ago 
  • Cross and Pile. This game was popular among Greeks. It reminds you of the heads or tails simple game. A player chooses a side and then flips a coin. 

In Conclusion 

To sum up, here are major gambling traditions that existed in various ancient countries. It is obvious that, for the most part, these were simple gambling activities with simple actions. The majority of modern casino games we know today hinge on ancient casino game versions. 

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