Gambling is one of the oldest known pursuits of mankind. Archeological evidence suggests that even the earliest caveman was a gambler. Dice-like objects made from the ankle bone of a sheep or dog called Astragali dating back 40,000 years have been found. Cave drawings depicting gambling offer further proof of the existence of early gamblers. Pairs of dice have even turned up in the ruins of Pompeii, some of them "loaded" to fall a certain way.
Around 2300 B.C., the Chinese invented a game of chance using tiles, and 1100 years later Greek soldiers amused themselves with dice games, though in ancient Greece gambling was illegal. In Egypt, a pair of ivory dice were found in Thebes dating back to 1500 B.C., and ancient gambling artifacts have been unearthed in China, Japan, India and Rome.
In ancient Rome, Claudius redesigned his carriage so that he would have more room to throw dice, Caligula confiscated knights' property to cover his gambling debts, and Roman soldiers gambled for the robes of Christ after his crucifixion. At the height of the Roman Empire, lawmakers decreed that all children were to be taught to gamble and throw dice.
During the 14th century, and in spite of being an inveterate gambler himself, King Henry VIII outlawed gambling when he discovered that his soldiers spent more time gambling than improving their battle skills. When Henry's wife, Anne Boleyn, and her brother were tried for treason and incest, the odds were 10-to-1 on acquittal.
In the New World, Native Americans , believing that the gods themselves invented games of chance, played dice with plum stones painted white or black. In addition to wagering possessions, Native Americans also played to predict future harvests and in hopes of curing seriously ill tribal members.
During the Revolutionary War, lotteries bankrolled the Continental Army....