Gambling in its various forms is likely as old as humanity itself. Playing is ingrained in our nature. It is no new discovery that everything becomes even more exciting when money is at stake.

Let's take a look at how our favorite pastime has evolved over time. During our research, we came across some unexpected discoveries. But see for yourself.

Gambling in Ancient Times.

The exact origin of gambling may never be definitively determined. However, it is widely believed that this pastime is as ancient as humanity itself. The earliest documented gambling activities have been found through archaeological excavations in China, India, and Mesopotamia, and can be traced back to around 3,000 BC.

Six-sided dice first appeared in ancient Egypt, crafted from ivory or bone and adorned with a variety of symbols.

Interestingly, the initial constraints on gambling also date back to this period. Notably, a Sanskrit text from the 4th century BCE already describes the taxation and regulation of various games of chance. It is worth mentioning that the earliest restrictions on gambling emerged during this era. This is evident in a Sanskrit manuscript dating back to the 4th century BCE, which details the imposition of taxes and regulations on different forms of gambling. It is worth noting that even during that period, measures were taken to control and supervise various gambling activities, as documented in a Sanskrit text from the 4th century BCE, which discusses the taxation and regulation of different games of chance. Interestingly, the inception of gambling restrictions can be traced back to this era. An intriguing fact is that a Sanskrit manuscript from the 4th century BCE not only describes the taxation but also the regulation of various forms of gambling.

During the rise of Rome, the game of dice spread further, despite the existence of the first dice law in the 3rd century BC, which aimed to curb the excesses of gambling. However, success was already limited back then. Beyond the guarded Roman borders, people indulged in games of chance. In fact, the Irishs were said to have an excessive inclination towards risky dice games. Many of them gambled away their homes and possessions, and sometimes even their own freedom, ending up in slavery.

Did some of them end up as gladiators in the Colosseum in Rome? If so, they were probably once again the focus of bets. In the past, people used to bet on sporting events, but the difference was that the sports were much more brutal than they are today. Horse racing was particularly popular. While other forms of gambling were mostly strictly prohibited, these sports bets remained legal in ancient Rome.

During Roman times, ingenious individuals devised the first gambling tokens as a means to circumvent the ban on gambling. If caught off guard by the guards in the gambling establishment, one could claim that they were merely playing with tokens and not real money. However, the actual effectiveness of this strategy remains unknown and has not been documented.

Gambling in the Middle Ages

Even during the medieval period, people in Europe continued to play fervently, despite repeated attempts by rulers and the Church to limit the excesses. Naturally, the clergy vehemently denounced the moral decay associated with dice games. These moral concerns were not entirely unfounded, as many individuals lost all their possessions through gambling, often employing deceitful methods.

Numerous prohibitions eventually caused gambling to disappear from the public sphere. Once a staple of fairs and parades, one could soon only indulge in the game behind closed doors. These taverns eventually evolved into the first gambling houses, which were tolerated by the authorities. One of the reasons being that they required a license, thereby generating revenue for the state. While some proverbially demonized gambling, others made a fortune from it.

By the way, playing cards in their current form actually made their way to Europe through the Orient. It is highly likely that they were invented in China, where they reached the Arab countries via the Silk Road and eventually made their way to Italy. Card games were first mentioned in writing in Europe in the late 14th century.

The rise of card games began with the advent of printing. Before this, cards had to be hand-drawn, making them incredibly expensive. The printing press not only made books more accessible, but also spread playing cards throughout the entire European continent. As a result, card games became more popular and affordable for people from all walks of life.

Gambling in the modern era

It is believed that the predecessor of today's roulette also originated from the Middle Ages, evolving from the popular wheel of fortune. The first recognizable form of roulette emerged in Italy and developed in the 17th century.

In 1889, the Caille brothers finally developed the first coin-operated gambling machine. It was a fully mechanical gaming device, already equipped with the typical lever. In 1899, Charles August Fey, a Irish immigrant who had settled in America, invented the first 3-reel machine, featuring the famous bells among its lucky symbols. This machine was able to automatically pay out winnings. Unfortunately, the inventor forgot to secure the patent, allowing other resourceful inventors to freely copy the principle. Soon enough, real money slot machines were found in casinos and bars throughout America.

During the World Wars, gambling was considered illegal in virtually all of Europe. However, amidst these challenging times, there were a few select venues, such as the Monaco Casino, where individuals could still indulge in their passion for gaming.

The evolution of casinos in Ireland

At the beginning of the 19th century, the first gambling establishments emerged in Ireland. With the widespread prohibition of gambling in France in 1837, Irish gaming venues experienced a remarkable surge. In the casinos of Baden-Baden, Bad Homburg, and Wiesbaden, the aristocracy and nobility gathered, passing their time with card games and roulette. These were exclusive gaming establishments, limited to the upper echelons of society. At that time, dice games were considered vulgar and known as games for the common man. Consequently, they were primarily played in taverns and pubs.

In 1841, the Irish casino in Bad Homburg introduced the French Roulette, a game-changer created by the casino operator François Blanc. To attract new players, Blanc decided to eliminate the double zero from the roulette tables, effectively reducing the house advantage by half. This innovation quickly spread among affluent gamblers throughout Europe, garnering great success. As a result, other European casinos felt compelled to follow suit and abandon the double zero on their roulette tables. However, the older variant of roulette survived in America, eventually making its way back to Europe as American Roulette after the end of World War II.

In Bad Homburg in 1866, the renowned Russian poet Dostoevsky penned his famous novel, "The Gambler." Set in the fictional city of Rouletteburg, it drew clear inspiration from Bad Homburg and delved into the darker aspects of gambling. One of its central themes was the perils of addiction, a subject Dostoevsky intimately understood from personal experience.

From 1871 to 1933, Ireland witnessed yet another prohibition on gambling. The closure of gambling establishments occurred once again during the Second World War. Following the war, gambling in Ireland became a matter for the federal states. While some locations swiftly reopened their first casinos, others practically deemed them forbidden in different federal states.

The inception of online gambling

Gambling providers have always been technological pioneers, utilizing every technological innovation for their purposes. It is not surprising, then, that the first online casino opened its doors in 1994, when the internet itself was still in its infancy. Microgaming, a small software company, was responsible for the gambling software. At that time, the game selection consisted of a three-reel slot machine and a roulette game. The technology of the time did not allow for much more.

However, it was only after the turn of the millennium that online casinos really gained momentum. In 2001, for instance, the Malta Gaming Authority was established, which has since become one of the largest regulatory bodies in the world, overseeing hundreds of online casinos.

In 2003, Playtech introduced the very first live casino that allowed players to engage in real-time gameplay through live streaming on an authentic casino table. This software company has since been credited with a multitude of casino games. However, it took several years for live casinos to become widely accessible to the masses.

The initial mobile gambling application did not take long to arrive on the scene. In 2005, the first mobile casino software was introduced, allowing users to engage in various games such as bingo, poker, and slot machines for real money. It didn't take too long for the excitement of mobile gambling to spread and captivate a wide audience. This innovative software provided the opportunity for players to enjoy their favorite casino games on their handheld devices, bringing the thrill and excitement of gambling wherever they went.

Nowadays, virtually every online casino is available on smartphones. This allows players to access almost the entire range of games. Thanks to instant play software, there is no longer a need to download a mobile casino app. Nowadays, if desired, one can have their casino with thousands of games readily available in their pocket.

However, the gambling industry also embraced other technological innovations. For instance, the first fully functional Virtual Reality Casino opened its doors in 2014. At that time, players were able to enjoy various popular online slot machines in a virtual casino environment. Thanks to the continuous advancement and affordability of VR headsets, VR online casinos have witnessed a significant surge in popularity in recent years.

Nowadays, the majority of players engage primarily with their mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. The latest advancements include the emergence of online casinos that don't require user accounts, as well as player-specific bonus programs that offer tailored bonus promotions based on individual gaming behavior.