Gaming has been around in human civilization for a really long time. Just as we started developing societies we developed different games with cards and dice that helped us relax and have fun. We eventually started involving money into them and so gambling was born. Although these first games were simple and rudimentary, they gave people something to occupy their minds when not busy.
Slowly but surely this fad of gambling moved away from only the rich being able to enjoy it during the 17th century so the first Gaming Clubs started popping up in England. These clubs would offer food, wine, music and dancing while also having a lot of gambling tables. Here are some of the Clubs of the time:
Whites- opened in 1652 by Francesco Bianco as a coffee shop. It quickly gained a reputation as a very sophisticated centre for gaming and it was the club of choice for members of the Tory party.
Almacks- opened in 1764 as a gaming establishment. Its famous clients like Charles Fox, Horace Walpole and William Pitt soon gave it quite the fanciful reputation. This club eventually changed its name to Brook’s.
Crockfords- it opened in 1827 and quickly became one of the most famous clubs. It was set up by William Crockford who was an experienced gambler. The Duke of Wellington himself was the chairman of the management committee and the Earl of Sefton was a founding member. Their aim was to attract only the rich crowd by offering yearly memberships at the huge sum of £25.
An expert in the history of gambling dens in that area had this to say:
“Clubs and gaming houses were patronized by the social elite, politicians and Royalty. England was an increasingly rich society, though the riches were far from being shared. A prosperous agriculture, developing industry at home, and the exploitation of trade and colonies abroad added to the wealth of a good many well-to-do.“
By the early 19th century, British gambling was entirely different than before. You had clubs for people from all walks of life. There were fancy clubs for the rich that only catered to people who could afford their ridiculously expensive memberships. Poor people on the other hand had gambling dens where they even had lotteries on offer.
The number of people who gambled also skyrocketed in this period as more and more individuals could afford this enjoyment. Gambling houses introduced games that would allow bettors to play amongst themselves without the need of a dealer. Of course they would take a percentage of all the money, pretty much like rake percentages at modern poker tables.
So there you have a part of the evolution of gambling over the centuries. A lot of things have changed about the way we play and the places where we play but one thing remains: People just love to gamble.