A Brief History of Gambling

Gambling has evolved a lot in recent years with the help of handheld technology. But the original idea of gambling has mostly remained the same over millennia.

Gambling was around before man invented the minted currency. Before people would bet money, they would gamble on their belongings like food, land, or livestock.

After the first currency was minted in the 7th century, gambling started to use money. Gambling remained the same after that until controlled gambling environments, also known as casinos, were invented in the 1600s. People would gamble in these environments rather than in the privacy of someone’s home, back alleys, or drinking establishments. 

Some experts believe that Italy was the birthplace of the casino, and from Italy, it spread across Europe and eventually made its way to the United States.

After centuries of back-and-forth battles over the legality of gambling at the state and federal levels, it finally was legalized in specific states in the U.S., like Nevada, to spur economic growth during the Great Depression.

After that, gambling spread, modernized, and became legal in 48 states. And sometime in the 90s, with the invention of the internet, gambling made its online debut and has since become a multi-billion-dollar industry.

  • 2300 B.C. The first known record of gambling is made. 
  • 600 B.C. The first minted currency is invented in Lydia in the 7th century.
  • 800 A.D. The first record of playing cards is made in China.
  • 1600 The first casino is invented in Italy. 
  • 1800 Gambling houses became more common in Europe and appeared in the US.
  • 1850 The first known slot machine was invented around 1850.
  • 1930 Gambling became legalized in certain states, creating gambling hubs like Las Vegas, NV and Atlantic City, NJ.
  • 2000 Online gambling became a multibillion-dollar industry by the end of the second millennium.
  • 2010 The invention of smartphones in the 2000s brought access to gambling into the palm of someone’s hand by the beginning of the next decade. 

So, what’s next for this ever-evolving industry? Only time will tell, but some advancements have been made over the past few years that will likely continue. Before You Bet has even written about some of these advancements. To learn more about the future trends, read our recent blogs on virtual reality gambling, Bitcoin betting, and augmented reality gambling.


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