The Earliest Forms of Gambling
Dice-like objects have been found that are tens of forms of gambling.
Keno and "White Pigeon Ticket"
Dating back thousands of years, keno has its origins in a Chinese game called "baige piao." This translates as "white pigeon ticket" and relates to the connection of tickets with homing pigeons.
Gambling Traditions in Ancient Greece
Widely criticized, but also widely enjoyed, gambling was a hot topic in Ancient Greece. Early traditions formed here, e.g. throwing two sixes was called the Throw of Aphrodite and was unbeatable.
Superstitions in Ancient Rome
The Romans were known for religious rituals and superstitions, which explains why they had a fondness for games of chance. They viewed odd outcomes as a warning of danger ahead and favored even outcomes.
The Emergence of Playing Cards
From the 6th century CE onwards, Koreans used cards made of paper and silk that they called "fighting arrows." Used in "games" that had as much in common with tarot readings as they did with poker or blackjack, they would later inspire early Chinese paper money.
The Royal Touch
Kings, Queens and Jacks on modern playing cards are consistent but originally depicted different deities and royalty hand drawn by artists. By the 15th century's end, card games had overtaken dice games in Europe.
Lots of Lotteries
Lotteries began as a means of unloading unsold goods in Genoa and Venice, but soon became popular in other European countries. Queen Elizabeth herself sanctioned the first English lottery!
Gambling Comes to America
Opinions on gambling were split, just as they are today, in early American settlements. Puritan colonies saw the activity as "moral decay", but gambling was ultimately embraced in the US.
Casinos and Horse Racing
Opulent venues were constructed, taking the place of small-time roadhouse and tavern gambling. New Orleans became the US's de facto gambling capital and horse racing's popularity grew (particularly in the south).
Hazard and Craps
A simple version of Hazard, a European dice game, craps (a mispronunciation of crabs) became popular in New Orleans. Its name refers to the numbers 2 and 3; instant losers for wagers on Pass.
The First Slot Machine
In the late 1800s, Charles Fey developed an early reel-based gambling machine in San Francisco. This would later be followed up by the first electromechanical slot in 1963 and the first electronic video slot in 1976.
Sin City is Born
In the 1940s Tommy Hull built a brick and mortar casino called El Rancho Vegas in the middle of Nevada desert, a savvy business move that kickstarted the building of The Strip.
Las Vegas Keeps Growing
Rapid expansion followed throughout the 1950s, including heavy investment from the mob, which saw Las Vegas emerge as "the place to be" for folks who enjoy gambling and the nightlife.
Gambling Goes Online
In the mid-90s, Microgaming began to develop an early form of online gambling software. In 1996 InterCasino, offering just 18 casino games, accepted the first real money wager on the web.
The State of Modern-Day Gambling
With land-based gambling venues in many major cities, and online gambling flourishing, more and more people are dipping into the world of real money wagers. New records are being set every year!
Available in bricks and mortar venues, on laptops and desktops, and via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, gambling is fast approaching ubiquity!
It's difficult to know what will come next in the world of gambling, though one has to assume that online gambling will continue to go from strength to strength. It's likely that the popularization of augmented reality, virtual reality and 3D technology will see the lines between online and offline gambling continue to blur; we've already seen the beginnings of this with live dealer gambling.
In the not too distant future, say 2050, online gamblers might be able to take a stroll down the virtual strip and sit down at a virtual table that's somehow connected (via technology akin to that of live dealer gaming) to a real table in Las Vegas. Again, this isn't a million miles away from the virtual terminals in land-based venues that allow wagers on real tables located elsewhere in the casino.
As jackpots continue to grow, thanks to "mega lotteries" and progressive slot machines, we also expect to see a lot more millionaires created by gambling. In fact, we're practically counting down the days until we see someone land a $100 million jackpot from some title or other. The USA's Powerball lottery jackpot has already hit more than $1 billion! Before taxes, of course…/p>
The only thing that's impossible to deny is that, with the possible exception of the mob-fueled excesses of 1950s Las Vegas, there's never been a more exciting time to be a gambler!