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History of Gambling

Forms of gambling have existed for as long as people are here on earth. It exists in every age, culture and civilization. Research of anthropologists from the 20th century indicates that in all the great societies that ever existed gambling was taken place. Materials connected to gambling were found in India, Egypt, Rome and ancient China from 2300 BC. In Thebes archeologists found a set of ivory dice from before 1500 BC and specific writings connected to gambling were discovered in the Pyramid of Cheops.

Many stories go around about the love of gambling by the Romans. One of the most famous stories is that Julius Caesar and his friend Marc Antony played dice or bet on rooster fights in their free time. Another is about the emperor Claudius who had his chariot specially made to be able to play dice while he was traveling.

From the beginning of the 14th century scientist discovered signs that gambling was being banned from some civilizations. For example in England, when King Henry the eight found out that his soldiers where spending more time on gambling than on training. Strange enough, King Henry the eight was a fervent gambler himself and the story goes that he lost the gigantic church bell of London in a bet.

Blackjack and Poker supposedly originated from shuffling paper money 900 AD in China. This grew into a card game that traveled to Europe via the Mameluke Empire. The Mameluke people were followers of the Islam and they decorated their cards with mysterious designs, rooted from paintings on Muslim carpets. By the time the cards reached Italy and Spain, the makes of the cards started to distinguish the cards by drawings of men who held power in the Royal Court, like the Jack and King. The queen entered the card deck only in 1500, thanks to the French who replaced one of the male figures for the Queen. This pack of cards, completed with the Queen was known for a long time as the French Pack and is the prototype of a deck of 52 cards that everybody is still using today.

Proof of all sorts of dice games has been found reaching over 2,000 years back. One of the most famous games of dice from past and future is Craps. Originally Craps was called 'Hazard' and it was played by the English elite and high society of the 18th and 19th century. England brought the game into France and the French decided to call it Craps, from the word 'crabs' which means 'pair of ones'. The game traveled quickly to America where Craps was simplified and it obtained massive popularity. At first the game was mainly played on American steam boats and after that it made its way into the streets and houses in all the big American cities.

Roulette has also an interesting background. Roulette means 'small wheel' in French. It's not completely clear who invented the roulette wheel, but many say it was created in the 17th century by Blaise Pascale, a mathematician. Others say it was the Chinese who invented the wheel and that Dominican monks took the wheel to Europe. The ones who made the game like everyone knows it today were Francois and Louis Blanc. In 1842 they invented the 'Single 0' roulette game. When this game reached the US, the Americans added the 'Double 0' to the wheel, which is known now as the American variant of Roulette, American Roulette.