What do you know about gambling? Did you know that if you trace back the history of mankind you’ll almost, always find evidence of groups of people gathered together and a form of gambling haven taken place? Now, I am not about to sit here and go through every twist and turn in the history of humanity about gambling because that would be boring and I finish work at 5pm and I have a cracker of a pizza waiting at home. What I will do is point out some of the most important dates and milestones throughout time all the way through to today’s modern-day gambling experience.
It’s probably a sure thing that forms of betting have been taking place since the first man walked the planet, China is the first country to provide solid proof when tiles were dug up that appeared to have been used for a game of chance. The Chinese ‘Book of Songs’ makes reference to the “drawing of wood” which would suggest that the tiles may have formed part of a bingo type game. There is also evidence in the form of keno slips which were used in about 200bc as a sort of lottery to fund construction and possibly The Great Wall of China. That’s pretty heavy stuff from a betting info site eh? I bet you that even back then there was a tote bookie somewhere laughing all the way to the Royal Bank of China or Barclays having duped millions of punters.
Greek dice were apparently invented by mythological hero Palamedes during siege of Troy according to Greek poet Sophocles. Whilst this is probably absolute nonsense, his writings around 500bc (before Coral) were the first mention of dice in Greek history. We know dice existed far earlier than this, since a pair had been uncovered from an Egyptian tomb from 3000bc – John Terry claims to have put them there. What is certain however is that the Greeks and Romans loved to gamble on all manners of things and at any given chance.
Like an ageing and greedy footballer, we head back to China and to the 9th century where early evidence of the first playing cards were found – it is also rumored that a 30 year old Bruce Forsyth was seen in the same place trying to ask Chinese men “higher or lower”. Some other suggestions are that the cards were like dominoes.
The earliest game played in casinos still played today is the two player card game of Baccarat, a version of which was mentioned in the early 1400’s. Although different incarnations of the game have come and gone, the standard version played in casinos all over the world came from Cuba, via Britain and to the USA -yes you’re welcome America.
In 1891 the first One Armed Bandits appeared in New York City. These were the first ever gambling machines that resemble the slot machines we see in amusement arcades and in bookmakers all over the world. The earliest versions of the Bandits gave out cigarettes and gum, the money winning versions soon replaced them and became a staple part of the bars and clubs scene around the globe. The first video game slot machine was invented in 1976 and this paved the way for the machines we know, see and play today.
If we jump forward to 1994 we learn that the virtual casino was invented. Online gambling was worth over a billion dollars within 5 years of it kicking off, and today is a multi-billion dollar industry all over the world. There are more than a thousand online casinos and that number grows every single day. The first live dealer casinos started in 2003 by a company called Playtech, which brought us closer to a hybrid between actual and virtual casinos.
We now find ourselves in 2018 and gambling went mobile a couple of years ago and it’s now as common as Alan Pardew being made manager of another Premiership team each season. Everyone knows about online casinos and their betting apps. America is a little behind the UK as they are making moves to legalise it state-by-state. Mobile betting apps are instant and fortunes can be won in the palm of your hand. Such is the allure and attraction of these apps that it has been the biggest app development in since ios and google app stores were launched.
So what does the future hold for gambling? That’s almost as difficult to predict as it is to trace the origins of gambling. Virtual reality and augmented reality technology is taking it’s first steps as a marketing tool and commercial commodity so we may see some headway there. To make that authentic though they’ll have to ensure that there are bookies pens and betting slips all over the place and that there is an angry punter who has lost a tenner on roulette being ordered out of the shop by Val, the assistant manager who is working till 11pm. After that, who knows. When it comes to gambling, anything is possible.