Gambling is one such activity that has been an essential part of human history. Gambling in the Ancient world was the part and parcel of everyday life. Although many policies and regulations were posed as strictures over time, in order to avoid fraudulent activities, yet, it has not disrupted the ever-increasing demand in the gambling industry or the general interest towards it as well. Gambling in the Ancient world has been subjected to a lot of diversified outlooks and different cultures that existed around the world, took different routes of exercising their ways in gambling. However, the core reason of gambling has always been the same – leisure and perhaps a monetarily incentivized activity.
This article helps to give a glimpse of gambling in the Ancient world, to its viewers.
Perhaps one of the earliest cultures that inculcated gambling practices, gambling in ancient China served an integral part in its history. Although not much of the same case observed today (where gambling is illegal in most parts of mainland China), the Chinese introduced a lot many elements that are still prevalent in the gambling industry today. Apart from introducing games like Dominos, it is believed that the Chinese were the first to introduce card games with symbols printed on them. They also ‘shuffled’ their money, which now can be observed in the unanimously and popularly practiced art of shuffling cards as well. It would be quite safe to say that the ancient Chinese culture brought in a lot to the table for the gambling industry, today!
The Roman Dynasty has had a lot to offer to the world and the modern times as well. And a significant role was also displayed in gambling practices as well. The Roman empire had a very precarious nature towards gambling practices. While mostly it was considered illegal and a punishable offense by law, there were periods of its legalization as well. Perhaps the most important event in the Roman dynasty was the yearly event called ‘Saturnalia’, an occasion to appease the God of Saturn. This particular occasion was celebrated over a week’s period, where men and women were engaged in utmost revelry. Intoxication and promiscuity were often observed in this week’s time and sometimes slaves were allowed to place bets along with their masters too, on the same table!
The Greeks, just like their contemporaries in the Roman dynasty, mostly banned gambling practices in their rule as well. However, a lot many gambling activities such as dice playing, animal fights, checkers etc., were still played at underground venues and even in secrecy. Greek mythology is in fact, full of such gambling anecdotes as well. The Greek Gods gambled their ways to secure their rule over the three elements (Sky, Water and the underworld by Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades respectively). There is not really a reason as to why the Greeks wouldn’t have then been interested in gambling, anyways!
The ancient Egyptians were not behind when it came to gambling in their provinces. Evident is the fact that gambling couldn’t be afforded by the lower class, let alone the slaves, the upper-class society was highly active in gambling practices. Although not as compound as like their contemporaries in the past (about 2000 B.C. years ago), the ancient Egyptians used small sticks and pebbles to throw and determine their landing outcomes. These simple games that were represented as gambling games, were eventually modified over time and with the introduction of card games and dices and coins, games such as ‘backgammon’ and ‘senet’ were introduced to the world.
Gambling in the Ancient world has had a great impact on the present day scenario in the industry. The past has reflected on why strictures and regulations are necessary to avoid over expenditure and fraudulent activities as well. However, it is also essential to understand that gambling has been an integral part of human history and to ignore its existence is to become plain and simple, illogically thought provoked!
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Posted On: 14/02/2019
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