24 Aug The history of gambling
A brief history of betting, gambling and games of chance
Since the beginning of times, human kind, curious by its nature, has not been able to resist the temptation of participating in group games, competing or winning some kind of privilege from such events. Very few can remain indifferent to the thrill of guessing who the winner will be, or cheering for one. Therefore, we can find evidence that sports betting, gambling, and gaming dates back to the ancient times, approximately about two thousand years BC, when in Ancient China tiles were used for playing a game which may be addressed as a kind of primitive game of chance.
Sophocles claimed that dice was invented during the siege of Troy, but its origin was actually traced back to the Ancient Egypt (3000 BC). Both Ancient Greeks as well as Romans enjoyed different form of dice games, which were actually forbidden and there was a penalty imposed worth about four times the stake being bet. The result of this was the invention of first gambling chips whose purpose was to hide the intention of people who could now claim to be playing only for chips instead of real money thus avoiding the penalty.
Talking about the history of betting we cannot but mention the horse race betting. Perceived as almost elitist amusement for aristocracy, horse race betting actually dates back many thousands of years. Chariot racing can be traced back to the Ancient Greece and the Olympic Games, and was also popular in Roman times as an inevitable element of various religious celebrations. It is not completely familiar when exactly the horse racing started in England, but it is believed to have happened during the reign of King James I, as he established the town of Newmarket as a royal resort. It was one woman, Queen Anne precisely, who was probably the greatest visionary when it comes to this sport. As a matter of fact, while riding one day she expressed her wish to have an area “for horses to gallop at full stretch”. In the same year (1711), the first race was held in Ascot, which is one of the leading racecourses today. Nowadays, horse racing represents an entirely regulated and one of the most lucrative betting markets in the UK that comes second only to football betting. It can be considered with no doubt the cornerstone of British betting culture.
The earliest gambling houses similar in their form to modern day casinos started to appear in the early 17th century in Italy. Casinos started to spring up all over continental Europe throughout the 19th century, whereas in the US much more informal gambling houses were becoming more popular. In fact steam boats taking prosperous farmers and traders up and down the Mississippi provided the venue for a lot of informal gambling stateside. Now the first though of casinos must be related to Las Vegas – a symbol of the arousing game of fortune, gambling, and great amount of money involved in the industry.
As far as sport betting is concerned, this kind of game has existed for quite some time as well. The pure desire of an individual to be part of a group, to have this sense of belonging to a group can be related to the creation of first forms of sport betting. The spectators used to watch sports events trying to guess who will be the winner. And then, the spectator felt the need to be part of the event, part of the competition. People used to bet on which cock would kill the other, or which water drop would fall faster. In time, anything could be seen as an inspiration for betting.
Gradually, it became clear that one needed a partner with an opposite opinion for betting, but with approximately the same financial competence. The next logical step was to find a professional mediator considered trustworthy and reliable by both sides. Such intermediate man began to accept bets in any amount from everyone who wanted to participate in betting. That is how a bookmaker came to life. A bookmaker was born from the experience of gambling people placing small or large bets on the likelihood of events.
In the second half of the 20th century, it was no longer only horse and dog races that the bookmakers accepted bets on, but also various kinds of sports competitions, which consequently made bookmaking significantly more profitable business compared to the period up to then. Soon after, bookmakers started accepting bets on the events much different from sports competitions such as elections outcome or winners of musical contests.
It is impossible to speak about games of fortune, or betting, nowadays without mentioning the contribution of the internet. Earlier, in order to make a bet, it was necessary to visit the bookmaker’s office in person, which is no longer the case due to the development of information and telecommunication technologies.
Live betting is one of the main improvements in online betting which has made betting easier and certainly more dynamic. What makes this system better than the old forms is the fact that the bets could be placed on any outcome of the sporting event that was taking place live. Nowadays, there is no precondition for land based points of sale since the whole process successfully takes place online. The opportunities are endless. Only a few years ago no one could even imagine what options might be developed in this sense. And today, a person can study betting strategies, watch the progress of sports matches using online broadcasts, analyze statistics from various online sources. The availability of information gives the player sense of power and control which is extremely motivational in this process.
What we can expect in the future?
There are several changes expected to emerge in the future when it comes to sport betting online:
• Almost all sports betting will take place online. Players will use their phones to place bets – in real time, thus saving time, and making the pleasurable habit a routine of some kind.
• As expected in many different fields, various human activities will be replaced by robots. So, why would this particular activity be any different? Robots will be betting on behalf of humans, having the benefit of speed, power and access to massive amounts of data.
• Large tech companies will emerge as mega bookmakers.
• Sports leagues will profit directly from legal sports betting.