Playing The Odds: The Evolution Of The World’s Oldest Game

Gambling is as old as human history itself, embedded in societal culture and is responsible for some of history’s most important events and developments. Gambling, as we know it today, does not stray far from how it was in the past and can be traced as far back as ancient times. How exactly did gambling came about and when did it start?

The Earliest Evidence Of Gambling And Its Many Forms

Evidence suggests keno(lottery) existed in ancient China

The first evidence of gambling was discovered during the time of ancient China when lottery games – one of the oldest form of  gambling – was played and some form of keno slips were unearthed supporting the assumption. Lottery games were heavily regulated by local governments through licensing as a way to amass state funds for construction projects and development and is a common practice even in the present day. Some theories suggest that the Great Wall of China, one of the world greatest structures, could have also been funded by earnings collected from these lottery games.

Dice used by street gamblers during Roman times

The earliest recorded game of dice can be traced back to Roman times where street games were rampant and the betting of money and goods were heavily done. As a result, gambling was banned and a corresponding penalty was imposed on those who were caught. It was during this time that gambling chips were invented in order to circumvent these restrictions and avoid getting penalized.

The emergence of card games during the Renaissance period

Card games such as baccarat and blackjack trace their origins back to Europe during the Renaissance period with France and Italy serving as the forefront of its widespread popularity. Blackjack in particular, has made an impact on American society and culture to become one of the most popular and played card game throughout the country, second only to poker.

The Birth Of Casinos

“Ridotto”, the first established gambling house during 17th century Italy

Gambling house started to pop up during the 17th century with the “Ridotto” being the first one as sanctioned by the government who aimed to control the gambling activity of its citizens. It was also during this time that the game of roulette was invented and played in gaming houses throughout Paris.

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During the 18th century, the first recognizable form of the game poker and the emergence of slot machines similar to what we know today, originated in the United States.

Nevada, the first ever state to have gambling legalized and home of the first casinos in the U.S.

Not long after, the first casinos in the US were established during the early 19th century. This was the time of prohibition in the country. Both alcohol and gambling were banned. It was not until the Great Depression that gambling and casinos became legalized again. There were some theories as to why this happened but the prevailing theory was that, it was to help alleviate the growing poverty in the country by providing jobs and wages and bring revenues in to help the economy bounce back from the recent recession.

The Advent Of Online Gambling

Microgaming, pioneer of the online gambling industry during the early 1990s

The invention of the internet has brought about new possibilities and opportunities. In the case of the gambling industry, it was expansion online. Microgaming, a software development company operating from Isle of Man is widely considered as the pioneers of the online gambling industry when it first arrived at the scene in the early 1990s. The company is one of the leading providers of software to the online gambling industry, powering hundreds of types of games catering to a wide variety of tastes and preferences, ranging from poker, blackjack, slots, and roulette to name a few.

Their services were offered both as an in-browser application utilizing FLASH or as an offline downloaded format. Recently, they have adopted the new HTML5 standard with their game releases to ensure cross-platform compatibility.

Going Mobile


Mobile devices are pretty much ubiquitous at this point and as such, it was only a matter of time before companies attempt to tap into this new market segment. One such company is NetBet, a subsidiary of Cosmo Gaming Company Limited based in Malta, Spain and is fully licensed and regulated by the Great Britain Gaming Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority.

With more than a decade’s worth of experience under their belt, they are one of the leading service providers in the online gambling industry in the UK and in other parts of the world, having a strong online presence and a sizeable user base. Offering an extensive list of online games to suit everyone’s preference with new games being introduced constantly. With the recent surge of smart, mobile devices, they have adapted to the trend and now offer their entire game library and services with a mouse click away or while on the go.

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What The Future Holds For The Gambling Industry

Gambling has had its ups and downs throughout history and the debates about its advantages and disadvantages can be an arduous affair.

On one hand, the adverse effects of gambling are real and tangible and most of it has to do with financial problems, gambling addiction, and irresponsible business practices as highlighted in a recent article by The Guardian.

On the other, establishing a casino can be the impetus to boosting tourism and the economy such as the case with Japan’s recently passed bill allowing gambling operators to enter the much sought after Japanese market as reported by CNN.

Public opinion on gambling is split. Some see its potential benefits for the economy, while others consider its negative effects on citizens and the issue of financial problems and gambling addictions. For better or for worse, the gambling industry is afloat and is here to stay for the foreseeable future. The issues with it are real and grievous and require much attention and consideration but if these obstacles can be overcome, the industry might become a major and positive driving force on the worldwide economy.

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