The history of gambling goes back to ancient cultures in China, India, the Middle East and Europe. Probably some form of gambling existed in nearly every society. The modern gambling industry’s origins, though are more recent.
In most nations of the world, gambling was illegal in the 19th century. In the United States, gambling became very popular during the gold rush in California. Many miners and other workers would congregate for betting games, usually under simple canvas tents.
Society and government, however, was still largely in opposition to gambling, and most forms of betting during this period were illegal. In 1860, only banking games in which the player bets against the house were legal. Eventually, gambling came under prohibition forcing betting to go underground.
Gambling, though, came into acceptance gradually, first becoming permissible in certain states or regions in various countries of the world. In the United States, Nevada is noteworthy for its history of legalized gambling. The stock market crash that brought on the Great Depression and the Hoover Dam project provided the impetus for gambling legalization in Nevada.
In Europe, the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco traces its origins back to the middle of the 19th century. However, it was only around 1930 that most European countries allowed betting, particularly the sports betting that is so popular in Europe today.
Macau became the major gambling center of Asia around the same time as Monte Carlo arose in Europe. During that period, Macau was still a colony of Portugal, and it quickly became famous as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient.” Initially, Macau casinos offered only Chinese betting games like Fan-Tan, but in the 20th century, gamblers could also play Western games like roulette and poker at these establishments. Today, the Macau casinos offer sports betting, and greyhound racing is particularly popular.