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A Brief History of Gambling

By November 10, 2019May 5th, 2021No Comments

Gambling is as old as mankind. In ancient times, people used to look at the skies and ask for a bit of luck, rain, destiny prediction, or higher knowledge about the stars. Gambling, in its various forms, has always been connected with divine nature. People perceived it as the fine interaction between an individual and luck. Luck, as the abstract, divine force played a major role. A brief history of gambling is closely related to both mathematics and the spiritual world.

Ancient Gods & Dice Games

In ancient Egypt, people used to play the game called “Senet”, which was very similar to some of the board games today. During a game, a player had a task to pass the path of his entire life. This was depicted by moving pawns on the board. Although no dice had been used, the Egyptians used sticks. The movement of pawns on the board depended on the combination of faces portrayed on the sticks. Or, should we say – it depended on luck and throwing skills.

History of gambling recorded the story of Thoth. He was the God of writing, wisdom, magic and the moon in ancient Egypt. He was also known for gambling. Namely, he played the game of throwing a dice and competed against the Moon. Eventually, he won, earning 5 additional days to help the sky goddess Nut to deliver children.

Nezha was the Chinese god often associated with gambling. This mythical creature was one of the rare creatures that was brought back to life. The force that helped his revival was based on prayers of the mortals. The legend says that people invoked him, partially due to his ability to help with revealing the winning numbers in lottery.

Chinese also had their own versions of board games similar to the Egyptian ones. The same goes for ancient Greeks and Romans. From betting on animal fights, gladiator combat, to casting lots, people living in ancient times engaged in games that would determine the events that were about to take place.

The Greeks Playing with Numbers

We should also keep in mind that ancient Greeks, for example, had a very deep knowledge of mathematics, and that they liked to play with numbers. Nevertheless, it is a bit strange to think that they were thrilled to play the game of luck, hoping for the winning number combination to pop up. It is strange, because at the time, they have already had extensive experience in “playing” with the numbers and calculus. Some of the conclusions they came up with, we still use today.

What would the history of gambling be without ancient myths. There is an interesting Greek myth mentioning shooting of the dice. Furthermore, it is at the basis of one of the greatest Greek myths. Namely, Zeus, Hades and Poseidon were said to shoot dice in order to see how the entire Universe would be divided among them. Zeus won and he chose the heavens, with thunders as his main weapon.  This virtual event formed the basis of the order of gods and semi-gods in the Greek mythology temple. Having gambling at the heart of such an important event in mythology should send us some messages. Could one of those truths be that gambling is the inseparable part of our nature and we should simply accept it as it is?

Let us know your thoughts.

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