Gambling: Past and Present

Gambling would probably hold the honor of being the oldest pastime.

Although the exact history of gambling is lost in the mists of time, there are snippets of its origins in artifacts.

Gambling instruments dating back to 2300 BC were found in China. A pair of ivory dice - made 1,500 years before the birth of Christ - were found in Egypt. A tablet found in one of the pyramids in Giza makes reference to gambling among ancient Egyptians.

Gambling today is popular as ever. It has different incarnations but only one definition: money is wagered or betted on an unknown outcome of an event.

Like a high risk investment, many people gamble for the chance at high returns or winning additional money. There are many forms of gambling, and each form brings with it a particular history or histories.

Mahjong, the four-player game that's distinct for the use of tiles, originated in China. Some myths point to the philosopher Confucius as its inventor. There's also a theory suggesting that it's actually the Chinese army officers who served in the 19th century Taiping Rebellion who invented it. Another theory points to a nobleman in Shanghai as the creator of the game; that he created it between 1870 and 1875. Still, others believe that it was created from an earlier form of gambling (the Madiao) by two brothers in N�ngpo city.

Cockfighting brings with it a history of blood sport. This form of gambling was banned in Europe in the 19th century. It is now illegal in the United States except Louisiana and in the territories of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Guam.

Cockfighting as a gambling form is very popular in Pakistan, Philippines and India.

Horse racing, commonly called The Sport of Kings, is a centuries-old sport that's often associated with gambling. It was popular among the ancient Romans. It is now a popular gambling form in the United States, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Japan and India.

"Casino", meanwhile, came from Italy and originally meant a small villa for pleasure. In the past it was usually built on the grounds of a larger villa.

It wasn't until the 19th century that casino evolved to include public buildings where gambling, sports and other pleasurable activities take place. Casinos today host popular gambling forms like card games, roulettes and slot machines.

The long history of gambling attests to its success as a form of recreation - and an addiction.

Unlike drugs or alcohol, a gambling addiction comes about because of the chance at getting rich quick.

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