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The history of gambling

"An individual plays only when he is human in the full sense of the word, and he can be wholly human only when he is playing". Friedrich Schiller

In 49 B.C. Julius Caesar was a renowned conqueror for the Roman Empire. Eventually, he wanted to seize power in Rome - the Eternal City. Having heard of this, the senators banned him and his army and ordered them to return to Gallia. Nevertheless, Julius Caesar pushed through and uttered the famous words: 'alea jacta est' - the die has been cast, before crossing the river which borders Rubicon.

This started a series of civil wars in Rome which still remains as one of the most significant events in ancient history. Those proverbial words are legendary, but today few people know that the real meaning was literal. Caesar was passionate about gambling and he believed in the power of the dice to magically predict the future. Rome's fortune was in fact influenced by the roll of Caesar's dice.

During these times, gambling was scorned by the public, and the word 'player' was tantamount to a swearword. However, they were also aware that the people's thirst for gambling could not be quenched. The Greeks made up a myth about Tyche, the Goddess of Fate. She and Zeus had a daughter who was endowed with the gift of devising various treacherous amusements, which caused the people to lose huge amounts of money, cheat, fight, and commit suicide.

Tyche loved her daughter and paid no attention to her cruel pranks. She even bestowed upon her a large luxurious house wherein she could charm unsuspecting players and make them miserable. In this time, hardly anyone still believes in mythology and story telling, but one thing still holds true: the human need for gambling.

Ultimately, the people's insatiable desire for gambling led to the establishment of gambling houses. At the turn of the 16th century, the term casinos would be used to coin these gambling houses.

Casinos attract various characters from different backgrounds; celebrities, athletes, politicians, musicians, businessmen and regular folk all flock to casinos. When it comes to winning, some players are admittedly lucky while others are simply skillful. Others however, simply lose their money round after round.

The poet Mayakovskiy was such a fellow. He always won at billiards but he could not win at gambling, particularly in roulette which he loved, but lost to so much. This resulted in him amassing a huge debt.

A Frenchman named Blanchard won masses of money if when entering a casino, a dove spoiled his hat. He interpreted this as a good omen and proceeded to win several thousand dollars. He was determined to play again as soon as a dove would spoil his hat which came about a few days later. This time, he won even more than before.

These days, veteran gamblers interpret bird droppings as a sign of good luck. Whether bird droppings will change your luck for the better or not, one thing is for sure: gambling will still be a favorite pastime for a lot of people for a long time to come.

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