The Origin of Gambling

Gambling has been around for a very long time and every country around the world all have different views on how it should be dealt with. Some countries allow it (under certain restrictions), and some prohibit it entirely. The countries that have made gambling illegal are usually done so because of religious beliefs. The punishment for violating such an act in these countries is sometimes as harsh as to getting your hands cut off. Catholic and Jewish traditions, on the other hand, have set days aside for gambling, for instance, the Jews have Hanukkah. Researchers have discovered that gambling originated from religious beliefs. Primitive gambling tools have been recovered from pre-historic societies indicting that gambling was performed. The gambling done back then had a different meaning to the practice. Objects such as pebbles, sticks, arrows, etc. were thrown to the ground and the distant future was foretold to you. This method was also used to make things comprehensible to the unexplained acts or events that took place. This primitive method was quite simple actually. The outcome was based on a number being “odd” or “even”. If the number of objects came out even, the outcome was good; if the number was odd – not so good.

Gambling eventually evolved into a religious practice. Believers of a certain god or deity would perform rituals and would sacrifice something special or precious to them to ask favors from their god or deity. Sometimes what they asked for came true, meaning it was approved and then granted. When what they asked for wasn’t granted, this meant it was disapproved, and sadly, you still lost your special or precious item. Basically, this tells us that these requests were based merely on chance. Eventually, gambling moved out of the religious community and turned itself into a separate activity all together.

Man started to gamble personal possessions like furs, tools and weapons. Even crops such as cotton, wheat, rice and vegetables were used as collateral. Animals were also used in hope to gain material possessions. There wasn’t anything that was spared that had some value to somebody somehow when it came to gambling. During the cold months and dry seasons, desperation would set in on some. This would drive them into gambling what little they had just so they could eat or stay warm for the duration of their unfortunate status. However, if you were on the losing end, troubled and/or hard times lie ahead. This would cause some to commit heinous crimes within the community or tribe, risking imprisonment, being out casted, losing a limb and even put to death, just to survive another season. This is probably the era when gambling started taking a turn for the worse and compulsive gambling was considered an immoral character trait rather than an addiction.

Gamblers Anonymous

Although gambling was recognized as being a problem, it wasn’t until the 19th century that gambling was considered addictive. A compulsive gambler can have the same addictive symptoms as someone with an alcohol or drug addiction. On September 13, 1957, a group of people realized that they had a gambling problem and formed Gamblers Anonymous in Los Angeles, California, USA. Today, it’s estimated that there are over 100,000 members alone just in the United States. Gamblers Anonymous (aka GA)hold meetings all over the world, including Australia, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Spain, Uganda, and in the United Kingdom.

Doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists all agree that gambling can lead to a serious diseased addiction. Unlike most other diseases, gambling and other certain kinds of addiction are hard to overcome. Joining group therapy like GA is highly recommended by experts in addictive diseases and they give credit to a “Twelve Step Program”.  The Twelve Step Program consists of twelve steps that the addict has to follow in order to complete the program.  Even though an addict is never really fully recovered from their addiction, the temptation to gamble and fall into a isn’t so great and can be overcome. The Twelve Step Program is recognized as an essential tool to help overcome a gambling addiction, as hundreds of thousands of people all over the world are proof to that. Members of GA know all too well what can happen if a compulsive gambler doesn’t seek and get help. Failed relationships are common in the life of an out of control gambler. Depression is also commonly found in gambling addicts which can lead to suicide. When a problem gambler starts experiencing failed relationships it’s usually caused by financial troubles and a “dynamo effect” can happen. After failed relationships comes a hard time holding down a job and losing them. Then the debts get higher and harder to manage and pay off, losing personal items such as cars and homes, sometimes it’s too much to take for some and the thought of suicide occasionally comes to thought. For some gamblers who don’t seek and get help, they actually believe that suicide is their only way out.

Las Vegas, Nevada – Sin City USA

Probably the most popular city when it comes to gambling in the entire world, Las Vegas, Nevada is a professional gamblers dream. Gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931 and has been the state’s main source of income which is the backbone to its economy. Gambling is a multibillion dollar business and most of it comes from Las Vegas, legally and illegally (but gambling on the internet has now been the new craze and is slowly taking the number one spot).  Las Vegas is visited by millions of tourists a year from all over the world; another source of income for the state of Nevada – tourists. But gambling isn’t the only thing you can do in Sin City; there are shows, circuses, sporting events, fine dining, carnival rides… it is said that there’s nothing in world you can do that you can’t do in Las Vegas. But the most popular saying that most people agree on is,

 “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”


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