history of gambling

When was gambling first introduced? It has been traced back to Ancient Greece, European colonials, Bull-baiting, and Cabot’s explorations of Canada’s vast wilderness. But how did it become such a popular past-time? Read on to discover the fascinating history of gambling. Ultimately, gambling became a common, but ill-regulated, vice. So, where did it all come from? And why is it still a popular pastime today?

Ancient Greece

The idea of gambling has been around for centuries and is even found in Greek history. Philosophers argued that it should be legalized and even regularized. In the ancient times, a monopoly on gambling was held by the Greek Organization of Football Prognostics. The organization remained state-owned until the financial crisis hit the country in 2008.

In ancient Greece, there were many different forms of gambling, such as dice games and coin tosses. These games involved betting on whether a number was even or odd and were believed to have been given to humankind by the gods. Interestingly, the ancient Greeks even made use of betting on animal fights. This is reflected in ancient pottery. During the Olympic games, bribes were often offered to athletes to reduce their performance.

Games like Heads and Tails were played by the ancient Greeks. Later, the game evolved to use coins. Other games of chance included Pitch and Toss, which involved throwing coins against a wall. While Greeks used shells, Romans favored the coin. The dice were popular with Greeks as well. Ancient Greeks used three clay cubes in heads and tails but later reduced it to two cubes.

While modern Greeks have mixed opinions about gambling, ancient Greeks had a divided opinion on the activity. While some Greeks consider it a harmless form of entertainment, others view it as a shameful and dangerous habit. Many Greek philosophers condemned gambling as a plague. The government even took measures to restrict it. Gambling and cheating go hand-in-hand, and the ancient Greeks were no exception.

European colonialists

When the first European settlers landed in America, they brought with them games of chance. Gambling was a popular past time, and European colonialists wagered money on everything from horse races to poker. Gambling was also popular in early American colonies, but the gambling culture varied wildly among the different communities. For example, in the South, horse racing was a prestigious hobby for the aristocracy, but the Civil War ruined the affluence of the region. Fortunately, gambling made a comeback in the Northeast, where elite jockey clubs operated the most prestigious racetracks, attracting working-class gamblers and affluent gamblers alike.

The gambling activities of the European settlers in the New World were not limited to casino games. The natives also gambled on horse races and cockfights, and some Native American tribes even participated in a game known as bull baiting. The game involved a tethered bull that would gore dogs. Many spectators would bet on the number of dogs killed in the game. Gambling in the New World quickly spread as a result of religious persecution in the European colonies.

The Puritans, in particular, had a very dim view of gambling and were quick to condemn it. In 1610, the Virginia colony adopted “The Laws Divine, Morall, and Martial,” a set of laws that addressed idleness, gaming, drunkenness, and excess apparel. However, these laws did little to curb gambling. And the Pilgrims’ attempts to curb it didn’t help much either.


The history of bull-baiting in Britain dates back to the 18th century. Bull-baiting became popular in Britain, with professionals touring the country with bulls. They charged owners of bulldogs to watch them be thrown into the pit. Bull-baiting was also a popular activity in Ireland, where evidence of this practice is widespread. Bull-baiting continued in Carrickfergus, Co. Down, and was also popular in Belfast.

In the early nineteenth century, animal rights reformers were working to change the public’s view of animal sports, including bull-baiting. The elites had long supported animal sports such as cockfighting, but this shifted when the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded. This new body aimed to improve the lives of working animals and to put an end to sports like bull-baiting. Eventually, bull-baiting ceased almost overnight.

While the practice is now illegal, bull-baiting was once a popular spectator sport in England. In fact, it was once a lucrative industry, with people betting on the time it took a bull to be brought down. Bull-baiting dogs were selectively bred to grab the bull by the side of its face and not let go. The sport grew in popularity and even Elizabeth I attended a bull-baiting display in 1575.

Cabot’s explorations of the vast Canadian wilderness

While the history of gambling is murky, it is known that European aristocrats and royalty played dice and roulette games during the middle ages. However, gambling was largely banned during this period. In 1497, when John Cabot first sailed to the Canadas, he discovered native tribes in the region playing games of chance. During his explorations, he found evidence of gambling as far back as 6000 B.C.

As Cabot’s explorations of the vast land mass began, he claimed Canada for England. However, gambling was prohibited in Canada during the British Empire’s rule. Interestingly, the first Canadian law was passed in 1338. During the Middle Ages, the English King Richard III banned dice games, believing that they were a distraction to soldiers and a waste of time. As a result, gambling in Canada was outlawed until the year 1999.

Queen Anne’s decree prohibiting gambling in Rome

Throughout the empire, gambling was forbidden by the government. The government feared that gambling would inflame tempers, cause riots, and even lead to violence. While gambling was illegal during the reign of the emperors, they often played games of chance and bet heavily during their travels. In the days before Queen Anne’s decree, gambling in Rome was widely popular, and the emperors were often seen seated in specially designed carriages.

Early forms of gambling in the United States

Historically, games of chance, such as roulette, have been a part of American culture for a long time. In the colonial period, these games were often associated with organized crime, which led to stricter gambling laws. But this did not stop gambling from growing and spread. With the advent of the gold rush, widespread gambling emerged in California, which was met with government interference but continued to flourish outside of the law.

During the early 1900s, so many men were drinking and gambling their salaries away at these Saloons that the women, who had to care for the children and maintain the home, had no money, and the families were left in grave difficulties. After an increase in domestic violence owing to intoxication and poverty, the ladies had had enough. Carrie Nation (Carry A. Nation) was a popular rallying point for the protesters, who brought their cause to the Capitol in Washington, DC.

Alcohol and Saloon Prohibition remained a hot-button issue in the United States until 1920, when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was signed into law. In order to prohibit the production and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States, this law was enacted.

After the Revolutionary War, the United States’ citizens continued to gamble, mostly on local casino premises. As gambling became more popular, the United States began to experience a cultural shift. The first casinos were established in Italy in the 17th century. The influx of immigrants from France led to the introduction of casinos across the continent. In the 1820s, the gambling industry was booming, and games such as roulette and poker came with them. As the nation’s economy began to flourish, the gambling industry expanded, and the popularity of riverboats led to a violent period when 5 professional gamblers were lynched. The apex of the riverboat gambling lifestyle was the period from 1840 to 1860.


Today, the modern internet and mobile phones have revolutionized the gambling industry. Esports betting is a multi-billion dollar industry based on video game players and teams. These industries have become increasingly popular, with growth in double-digit numbers every year. Throughout history, gambling has evolved along with human civilization. It may even be older than history itself. No one knows for sure when gambling first originated, but it is a part of human nature.