How has gambling taken place in Ancient civilizations?

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Did you know? Gambling has been a means of entertainment since ancient times in several parts of the world. The method of betting didn’t just come about with a snap of a finger. It was in existence since the palaeolithic age. However, the ways of gambling differ quite broadly when compared to the modern style of betting. For instance, Western Asian countries were known to have practised gambling using six-sided dice. While, the Chinese adopted the use of playing cards in the 9th century, and the Persians were the first to introduce As-Nas, aka Poker in the modern-day gambling. Take a look at the details on how gambling took place in the ancient civilization.

How has gambling taken place in Ancient civilizations?

Card game in ancient China

It is recorded that during the Xia dynasty, approximately 2300BC, the Chinese people invented card games using numbers and symbols before Persians created the face-playing cards. They were also the first to invent paper, which ultimately gave them the idea of paper money, money shuffling, and that’s how card shuffling came about in the gambling world. Keno is the most well-known card game in China, first practised 2000 years ago and was initially named as White Pigeon Ticket. It consists of numbers from 1 to 80 in squares, where players are given a chance to choose a set of numbers, and a draw takes place to declare the winner. Although almost all forms of gambling are considered illegal in China today, state-run lotteries and certain games are still permitted in the regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Dice games in ancient Greece

Based on Greek mythology, the practice of gambling emerged in ancient Greece when the gods Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon set out to split the universe apart. Gambling in ancient Greece was considered an illegal act for several centuries. Because cheating goes hand in hand with gambling, the early Greek authors and philosophers condemned the practice. But despite that, people still partook in gambling variants like checkers, heads or tails, animal fights, and other luck/chance based betting activities. When the original dice game was introduced to the locals, they played with 3 or 4 dices. The dice game was considered as a simple game of making random guesses which had no effect on the outcome.

Gambling in ancient Rome

Initially, the act of gambling was practised between slaves and masters during ancient Rome, and it was popular even amongst the Emperors. Romans were known for their notorious gambling history, especially when the country was ruled by Augustus. We can even find the reference of gambling in biblical texts, where the Roman guards cast the lots for the garment of Jesus during the crucifixion. In the early days, the Romans used the method of gambling to settle disputes or consider the outcome as god’s answer to their prayers. There was even a festival called ‘Saturnalia’, which was held in honour of the god Saturn, that allowed both men and women to eat, drink, and play games for a whole week, regardless of the classes.

Gambling in ancient Egypt

Early Egyptians were also known for gambling practices, dating back to as early as the primitive era. The rules and regulations of the gambling were simple, which generally involved throwing sticks and pebbles onto the ground. The final outcomes were judged by whether the objects land as an even or odd number. As time went by, the style of gambling became more advanced and innovative, incorporating more objects with patterns in games that included cards, dice, or boards. And it was in the 15th century when the concept of the lottery was first introduced in Asia by the Europeans.

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Author : Heather Heaton

Published Date : 05/09/2019