A Brief Overview of the History of Gambling

Gambling is an incredibly popular pastime, both in Australia and the world over. In some form or another people have been gambling for centuries and some of the earliest evidence of gambling dates back to 2300 B.C and has been found in China.

One of the most iconic symbols of gambling are the dice and these cubed, numbered items may have been a lot cruder in years gone by, but they still served the same purpose. It’s believed that in China a dice decided how territories were split and once rolled or thrown, a decision rested on whatever was depicted. It wasn’t only in China that dice were used to decide who was allocated a territory, in 100 A.D King Olaf of Sweden and King Olaf of Norway rolled the dice to see who would take ownership of the District of Hising. The Swedish King Olaf rolled two sixes in succession and was awarded the land.

An Increase in Problem Gambling

Its quite amazing how even in the Middle Ages gambling was able to become a problem and the available activities became so immersive that many soldiers scuppered from guard duty or didn’t perform when required as they were too busy playing wagering games. In many countries in the Middle Ages a ban on gambling was enforced in order to keep soldiers focus and to ensure they carried out their duties without any distractions.

Playing Cards Origins

It wasn’t just dice that originated in China, it was playing cards too. The Chinese made the first paper so playing cards were a natural progression thereof, as was paper money. Paper money is said to be the prototype for paper playing cards and money was the first item to be shuffled, lending us to believe that the origins of card shuffling actually came from the mixing up of notes.

When the original Chinese paper cards reached the Mediterranean they underwent a number of changes, including distinguishing the royal ranks and removing one of the men and replacing them with a queen instead.

House Edge

In Cincinnati in the 1830’s house cuts were developed and casinos flourished and made a fortune. A number of refugees set up gambling houses where they’d take 10% of every bet placed, earning them the nickname of 10% houses. This was the beginning of the house edge or betting commission and although this was reduced in some cases over the years, the house edge still remains in every gambling game.

Gambling Cities

Although today we identify Las Vegas as one of the worlds gambling capitals, it’s interesting to note that gambling was actually illegal in the state of Nevada in 1910. A law was passed stating that it was illegal to operate a gambling game in Nevada, but this law was scrapped in 1931 when the state legalized gambling and sowed the seeds for what’s become one of the biggest and most famous gambling destinations worldwide.

Canada also has a long and illustrious gambling history and this Canadian province was home to some of the most exclusive casinos at a time when gambling was banned elsewhere. Canada may be considered the grand dame of gambling, whilst Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City and most recently, Macau in Asia have earned their spot inn the annals of history too.