Gambling History – From Mesopotamia to Online Casinos

Gambling with luck has accompanied mankind for thousands of years. There is no culture unfamiliar with gambling. While today it is purely for entertainment, in ancient civilizations gambling took on cultic and religious functions. Here is a foray through our current knowledge, up to online gambling, the current culmination of this development. Best gambling sites you can find on Justuk.

Ancient Egypt & Mesopotamia

The old high cultures have their origins in Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and Tigris. The oldest games of chance therefore also came from this region in present-day Iraq and Syria. It was there that people gave up their nomadic existence for the first time, settled down, developed urban structures – and played.

Archaeological finds indicate that bets were also made. Instead of dice, bones that were thrown were used for games of chance. The ancient Egyptians already knew the dice. For them it was a means of contacting the gods and hoping for information from them. They assigned the results of a litter to the supernatural messages contained therein. An ancient Egyptian cube with 20 sides continues to amaze researchers to this day: they don’t know what it was used for. Historians also disagree about the rules of the ancient Egyptian board game called Senet.

The Middle Kingdom

Nowhere in the entire Far East was and is gambling as popular as in China – even though there have always been periods in the history of gambling in the Middle Kingdom when it was forbidden or strictly regulated. Evidence of gambling in China dates back to 1900 BC. The Chinese authorities finally discovered gambling as a source of income and imposed lucrative taxes on it. The oldest games of chance in the world often originated in China. Among other things, you can discover Chinese roots in blackjack, poker and keno. The invention of maps is attributed to the Chinese and can be dated to around the ninth century BC. The forerunners of dominoes can also be traced back to ancient China.

The Ancient American Cultures

Very little is known about gambling in ancient American cultures. Research assumes that dice were in use there, possibly as early as around 5000 years ago. One of the oldest American games is Patolli. It \was a board game for two players who placed real values on their six pieces. The bet could consist of personal belongings, food, precious stones or gold jewellery. But it could also be about much more: one’s own house, one’s family, personal freedom. It was always all or nothing: the game only ended when one of the participants had lost everything.

Ancient Europe

Both the ancient Greeks and the ancient Romans knew gambling. One of the most popular was called “Even or Odd”, and that pretty much described the simple game rule: one player would hide a number of small objects in his fist, usually nuts or pebbles, and the other had to guess whether the number was even or not was odd. The Greeks also enjoyed a great many games of dice. However, gambling did not have a good reputation in their culture, and was even considered dishonorable. This is surprising, because in Greek mythology a game of dice between Zeus, Poseidon and Hades plays a decisive role. The three gods divided the universe among themselves with the help of the dice. Hades had the worst result, so he had to make do with the underworld.

In the Roman Republic, gambling was forbidden for a long time, only permitted on the occasion of the Saturnalia festival. As a kind of early form of carnival, these reversed all conditions: slaves, for example, were served by their masters, and gambling, which was otherwise forbidden, was allowed in exceptional cases. However, the Romans didn’t care much about the ban the rest of the year either. Fraud and disputes were the order of the day. In Pompeii, someone advertised himself with the surviving wall inscription: “I am skilled enough to win without cheating.” A number of Roman emperors were passionate gamblers, Augustus and Nero for example. Emperor Commodus is said to have even gambled away the entire state treasury and then turned his palace into a casino in order to get his money back – a remarkable event in the history of gambling that the famous hotel and casino “Ceasars Palace” in Las Vegas will open soon.

Ancient India

Similar to Greek mythology, a game of dice also plays an important role in Hindu tradition and triggers political and warlike complications in which the god Krishna intervenes. This can be read in the famous epic Mahabharata, a major work of Hindu literature. Gambling can be traced back to at least 2000 BC in Hindu culture and today still closely associated with the festivals of Holi and Diwali. Both festivals are dedicated to renewal, including financial ones. On this occasion, players request the assistance of the goddess Lakshmi, who is responsible for prosperity, among other things. An Indian board game on a playing surface in the shape of a symmetrical cross is Pachisi, which literally means 25 and is the highest possible roll.

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