Anyone who believes gambling has been part of our habits since recent history has been seriously mistaken, because today’s anthropologists date the first finds of gambling in China to 3000 BC. Already in the ancient Mesopotamia one played with cubes of ivory and bone and also old Indian writings report of dice plays. However, these also already report on the first restrictions and taxation possibilities!
Due to the geographically widespread Roman Empire and its policy of not allowing soldiers to serve in their own countries, many soldiers and legionnaires came from the Middle East to northern Europe. With the Roman soldiers, the dice and the dice games came to Europe and especially to the Germanic tribes, which we know to be very passionate players and to be buried with the game utensils.
In the Middle Ages, there are other reports of gambling, such as the Mah-Jongg game, which is still very popular in China today. In Europe, on the other hand, the Catholic Church tried to restrict gambling and began to talk about permitted and unauthorized gambling practices. Playing for high stakes was punished as a sacrilege, quite with torture. Still, that was not enough to stop the dice and card games.
In fairs, fairs and carnivals different games were widespread and from this the tradition arose to build permanent venues. It created the first “playhouses”, the concessions needed by the local authority and remained essentially reserved for the upper classes. The common people played in the tavern and when it got caught, then beatings, imprisonment or even banishment. From these playhouses of the 13th century and the habit of organizing even private gaming evenings among the nobility, a culture of play grew up which culminated in the emergence of casinos as we know them today in the 17th century.
From antiquity to the Middle Ages, dice games were the hottest game and a dice player was automatically regarded as a risk-taking man who can use house and farm in the game fever. The most famous dice game was the gambling game (Hasard is derived from the Arabic word yasara for dice) which was so popular from the 14th to the 18th century that the word has become synonymous with gambling over time.
Around the same time, 14th – 15th centuries, the first playing cards from the Orient arrived in Europe, which over the years produced innumerable card decks and game variants. Again, it is not exactly proven where the first playing cards came from, but the first detectable appearances are from the 12th century China and Korea.
But not only the playing cards kept their entry, also the first class lotteries appeared in Holland at that time. The lottery games quickly gained in popularity in the German-speaking area and the proceeds were already used for charitable purposes, such as the reconstruction of churches and entire cities after the 30-year war. Even the state coffers were thereby filled up again and some, like Duke Eberhard Ludwig zu Württemberg, financed the construction and the later royal tenure of his residence palace in Ludwigsburg named after him with an “annuity lottery”