History and evolution of gambling — From dice to mobile gaming

Gambling is almost as old as civilization itself, but it’s hard to pinpoint its roots as it predates written history. According to some findings, it is suggested that gambling existed during 3000BC, as dice dating from that period were discovered. That being said, dice were also used in Astragalomancy, which is a form of fortune-telling or divination that relies on dice made of knucklebones. So, if you ever wondered why the phrase let’s roll some bones means to roll dice, know that bones were used to make dice. Nowadays we bet and gamble without even using a physical dice, so it would be interesting to see the road that led us here. 

Lottery Game from Ancient China

One of the earliest pieces of evidence of gambling comes from Ancient China. Archeologists discovered tiles that were apparently used for a game of chance. This theory is backed up by the Chinese “Book of Songs” where references were found which suggests this was a form of lottery game. Moreover, there are suggestions that this lottery was used to fund state development and construction, including the Great Wall.

Early Card Games

Another form of the luck-based game that comes from China is cards. In fact, many scholars agree that first cards can be traced back to 9th century China. Unfortunately, game rules remain unknown and lost in the sands time, but it is believed that rules might be closer to trading card games rules that children play today.  

Casinos in Italy

Although there were gambling houses that date way before the 17th century, it is widely believed those were used for betting on animal battles. The first casino was built in Venice in 1638, and its name was Ridotto. This is regarded as the first establishment where gambling was controlled, and it was a meaningful step forward. Mobile online casino real money games we have today would not be possible without regulations that came into being during the 17th century. The casinos were so popular that during the 19th century they started to pop up all across Europe.

First Slot Machine

Slot machines are widely popular today, and casinos have large rooms solely dedicated to these machines. It should come as no surprise that the machine was popular ever since its inception, as all of the slot games are basically based on the original model called Liberty Bell. The machine was invented by a car mechanic from San Francisco, Charles Fay, and it allowed winnings to be precisely regulated right from the get-go. 

It is worth noting though that this was not the first gambling machine, as that device appeared a few years earlier and it was developed by Pitt and Sittman in New York. It consisted of drum reels with 52 cards, and it was used for playing some sort of poker games.

Online Gambling

A first step from the real world casinos to digital ones happened in 1994, however, the internet access we had at that time is what prevented the user base from growing as fast as it does today. Microgames that are known as one of the biggest slots and casino games developers are among the first who ventured into the digital territory and charted the way for other providers. In just 5 years online casino games value spiked over billions of dollars, and today it’s worth even more. 

Gambling Going Mobile

With the widespread popularity of smartphones, mobile gambling was the next logical step in evolution. There are so many more internet users today than 20 years ago, and a vast portion of them browses the web via phone. In 2011, New Jersey legalized online gambling, and other states started to follow in their footsteps, which contributed to a boom in interest for online mobile gambling.

Photo: Pompeiian mural depitcting men betting on a  game