The Fascinating History of Gambling: From Dice Games in 2300 BC to Online Casinos

Jul 20, 2023 | Articles, Gambling, History

The intriguing story of gambling unfolds through centuries, transcending boundaries and captivating the human spirit. Today, the global gambling industry boasts a staggering value of nearly $500 billion, but its humble origins are a fascinating tale.


2300 BC: The Oldest Traces of Gambling

Delving into the depths of history, we discover the oldest tangible evidence of gambling in Ancient China, nearly 4000 years ago. Archaeological findings reveal tiles resembling materials used in primitive games of chance. References in the Chinese ‘Book of Songs’ allude to early lottery-style games involving the drawing of wood. Astonishingly, Keno slips from 200 BC indicate the use of lotteries to finance significant state projects, including the legendary Great Wall of China.


500 BC: Clever Strategies and Risky Gambles

As time progressed, the allure of gambling spread to Ancient Rome and Greece. The Greek poet Sophocles credited a legendary hero with the invention of dice during the siege of Troy. Ancient Greeks and Romans shared a deep affinity for games of chance, but strict laws in Rome prohibited gambling. Resourceful Romans circumvented the ban by using gambling chips instead of real money when caught, cleverly claiming innocent intentions.


800 AD: Lost Games and Ancient Decks

China takes center stage again in the 9th century, as the birthplace of playing cards. While the precise rules of early card games have been lost, scholars believe these cards held both entertainment and trading value, similar to modern trading card games popular among collectors.


1400 CE: The Evolution and Global Appeal of Baccarat

The 1400s witnessed the origins of Baccarat, the oldest casino game still enjoyed today. Originating in Italy and later migrating to France, Baccarat underwent numerous transformations throughout the centuries. The version played in casinos worldwide today was introduced to the US from Cuba, with some rule modifications during its journey through Britain.


1600 CE: Blackjack’s Origins

The roots of blackjack can be traced back to the Spanish game of veintiuna mentioned in a 1601 book. However, it was the French game vingt-et-un in the seventeenth century that laid the groundwork for the modern version. The game acquired the name “blackjack” during special promotions in Nevada casinos during the 1930s, despite the fleeting nature of odds.


1800 CE: Birth of the Casino

The early 17th century witnessed the emergence of gambling houses resembling modern-day casinos in Italy, marking a significant new era. Meanwhile, informal gambling establishments thrived on Mississippi River steamboats in the United States, catering to prosperous farmers and traders.


1891: The Evolution of Slot Machines

Innovations in gambling continued with the invention of the “One-Armed Bandit” in New York. Designed by Messrs Sittman and Pitt, this gambling machine, featuring drum reels containing 52 cards, laid the foundation for modern-day slot machines. Charles Fey’s invention, the Liberty Bell, revolutionized the world of slot games with precise regulation of winnings, leaving a lasting influence on contemporary video slots.


1910: Prohibition and Potential

Throughout the course of history, gambling has faced contrasting views and regulations. Puritan communities in the United States strictly prohibited gambling, while English immigrants embraced it.

In 1910, nationwide prohibition was imposed due to public pressure, but clandestine gambling persisted. The Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression led to the legalization of gambling as a potential solution to widespread poverty.


1994: Microgaming’s Trailblazing Journey in Online Gambling

Microgaming, a prominent casino and slot game developer, played a pivotal role in shaping online gambling. As early as 1994, they ventured into the realm of virtual casinos, marking a significant milestone.

Within five years, online gaming’s value exceeded one billion dollars, and it has since grown into a thriving multibillion-dollar industry with over a thousand online casinos. Playtech further pushed the boundaries with the introduction of live dealer casinos in 2003, creating a harmonious blend of traditional brick-and-mortar establishments and immersive virtual experiences.


Gambling Today and Beyond

Today, across the United States, a notable trend has emerged. Betting only started becoming widely legalised in 2018 (Source:, yet there has also been a rapid surge in mobile gambling. This pattern echoes a global phenomenon where internet users are progressively shifting their attention from desktop computers to handheld devices.

Online gamblers are no exception, seeking the convenience of enjoying their favorite games while on the move. Recognizing this growing demand, leading gambling sites have seized the opportunity, catering to this mobile-oriented market. A wave of impressive online gambling platforms, specifically tailored for mobile devices, has taken the world by storm! And it’s big business: in 2022 in the US alone, $54.93 billion, yes, billion, was spent on the pasttime.

It is evident that desktops are being surpassed by the allure of more mobile alternatives, as players embrace the freedom and flexibility provided by these cutting-edge mobile gambling options.

The journey of gambling has transformed over millennia, captivating the human spirit across cultures and generations. From humble dice games to the immersive world of online casinos, gambling continues to evolve, enticing and enthralling players worldwide.

Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

Thomas B.