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History of Gambling: An Overview of How Gambling Evolved Over Time

The history of gambling goes back centuries. What started as betting on games of dice in 3000 B.C. has developed into a €400 billion+ global industry that shows no sign of slowing down. Dice rolling and cards provided the foundations for gambling, and they are still relevant in today's market. However, it has evolved beyond recognition with the introduction of mobile betting, slot machines, online games, sports betting and much, much more. As the evolution of the gaming industry progresses, the options and attractions have also grown. Efficient online casinos now provide you with alluring welcome bonuses that you can use on the move from your mobile phone. It is so much more accessible. You can place bets on pretty much anything at any time in any place. So, how did we get from dice rolling to bets on an online hub of gambling? In this article, we cover everything – from the first forms of betting to the history of online gambling.

Early Years of Betting

The Palaeolithic period saw the earliest six-sided dice introduced, which is where the earliest signs of gambling are thought to have stemmed from. In the first millennium B.C., China saw many gambling houses where betting was prevalent, as punters bet on animals fighting. Betting on playing cards was also introduced by China as early as the 9th Century A.D. before it moved across to Japan in the 14th century and developed further.

So, you could say that the earliest history of gambling takes place in Asia. The earliest forms of the lottery began to take shape in Asia, as this area dominated much of the earliest developments of gambling.

Introduction to the Lottery

Despite the earliest mentions of a lottery coming from China, it was King Francis I of France who would go on to develop them into something that resembles what we see today. Having spent time in Italy, the monarch decided he could use the idea to inspire a way of improving his state's finances. The very first French lottery was introduced in 1539 and named the Loterie Royale.

It didn't have the desired effect, however, as prices were excessive, and the classes who could afford tickets would oppose the idea. By 1569 England had taken on the idea to more success, and from this point on, lotteries spread across the globe. Now, due to the way technology has evolved, players can fill out lottery tickets from the comfort of their homes.

History of Casinos – Introduction to Roulette

As well as being heavily involved in the introduction of lotteries, the French were also responsible for roulette. Based on a similar game played on a wheel called Biribi, popular in Italy, the French adapted the rules and format in the late 18th century, and so roulette was born. So, the answer to "where did casinos originate?" would have to include both France and Italy, with the latter opening the first known gambling house. The modern format of the game was played in Paris as early as 1796. Initially, the zero was red in color, but this was quickly changed to green in the 1800s as the game evolved.

Bookmakers Sports Betting

The First Bookmaker

We can't talk about the history of gambling without diving into bookmaking, which is a vital part of the process. Even as far back as the late 18th century, the idea of making profits from gambling was well underway. The story goes that a man named Harry Ogden took it upon himself to take a chalkboard and provide odds of each horse racing at Newmarket, England, on that day. This idea made him the first bookmaker on the planet as he foresaw a market that would go on to become one of the most popular betting methods in the world.

Evolution of the Gambling Industry in the 20th and 21st Century

The 20th and 21st century has seen the gambling industry turned on its head. The advancement of casino technology has seen such rapid growth both in terms of revenue and in terms of user experience. The 1960s saw Europe gain high street bookmakers that you could walk into and place bets, and then the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century saw incredible levels of growth.

The introduction of the internet and mobile casinos transformed the industry and changed how people both viewed and partook in gambling. Soon, app developers were making incredible progress by building software that allowed you to place bets on your phone. This quickly turned into full-blown online casinos with thousands of accessible games and sports betting with live streaming and dynamic in-play markets. So, if you're wondering, "when did online gambling start?" the answer would be sometime in the mid-1990s.

How Has Technology Changed the Gambling & Casino Industry?

Technology has influenced gambling in history as much as any other industry. You can now place bets from your phone whether you are on the bus, sitting at home, in the football stadium, or pretty much anywhere you can get a phone signal and where betting is legal. Mobile devices equate to more than $100 billion worth of bets annually, and this translates as more than 40% of the total online betting market.

Like on the high street, mobile phones have now replaced brick-and-mortar shops as punters, especially the younger generation, enjoy the convenience and hassle-free nature of betting from their phones. This has led many popular high street casinos and sportsbooks to develop their own online sites and apps to run alongside their venues, keeping punters happy as they trust a name that they recognize.

Technology will undoubtedly continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the online gambling industry. In fact, we're probably experiencing a monumental moment in the history of gambling. We should expect future changes that will continue to develop and evolve the online environment, and it is certainly an exciting time for gambling fans.

Is the Casino Industry Growing?

With the history of gambling right here, the one question that remains is where's all headed. The casino industry is growing, and there are no signs that it will slow down anytime soon. Those are the estimates you'll find in our casino statistics and trends, as well.

Players have embraced the concept of playing online and on their mobile devices. More and more jurisdictions are regulating internet gambling, and so the sector is expanding globally. For the time being, at least, it seems that the future is bright.

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Steven Ford
Steven FordUpdated: 27 Oct 2022
Steve started his iGaming career back in 2007 and he has not looked back since. Various job roles for both global and startup casino brands have given him a deep and thorough under...

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