The fascinating history of gambling in India

Right now there are many online casinos and land-based establishments that are thriving in India. Just as an example, tens of thousands in the country have made the Parimatch India app download process in their smartphone or tablet, which is only a symptom of the great success that these establishments enjoy.

However, this was not only the case. In fact, in many parts of the country there are legal battles and issues that discuss the status of the industry across the country. But, if we go back very far in the past it is possible to see that some of these problems and discussions didn’t exist at all. Let’s review the fascinating history of gambling in India, and how it shaped how the industry looks currently in the country.

Gambling has been present all across the history of the country

According to some sources, the earliest record of gambling in India dates as far back as the year 7300 BC. While some people are skeptical about these records, if they are true, they are a fascinating story of the origins of games that currently we see everywhere, such as chess and dice.

In these records there are two main board games being mentioned. They are Aksa and Devana. It is debated whether these two words refer to the exact same game or two different ones. However, in both cases it tended to happen that the player who lost in the game tended to lose everything, including their house, clothes and even the family.

In some famous Sanskrit stories there are some tales where gambling is a completely normal behavior. This is a huge contrast to some attitudes seen nowadays towards casinos and gambling, where it can also be considered as a taboo topic.

This relatively positive attitude dates back to 3200 BC according to the aforementioned Sanskrit records. While some scholars disagree with these dates, they still tell fascinating stories of people gathering to gamble in similar ways as how it is done currently.

Another story that dates around 1000 BC tells the story of two characters, Shakuni and Yudhishthira. After an unfortunate run for the latter, he lost all his wealth and even his kingdom. However, in a desperate attempt to recover what he lost, he gambled his family, wife and even himself. However, things weren’t in Yudhishthira’s favor, as he was later exiled for 12 years after those catastrophic losses.

Back in 300 BC Indians started to use something similar to the modern dice. Here they used nuts that came from the Vibhitaka tree, and they used to wager in fights of various animals, including cocks and rams. Later, horse racing also started to appear in the picture. But, there are many accounts that told stories where Indians basically wagered without any control, leading to some horrible losses that could even cost the players’ lives.

In general, there are two main gaming artifacts whose origins might be attributed to India. The two most important of them are:

  • cards;
  • and even dices! 

Some people argue that dices appeared for the first time in India, since some similar devices were used by Europeans centuries ago, which happened to feature Indian symbols instead of numbers or dots as they currently do.

Jumping all the way to the 1700s and 1800s, British influence brought cricket to the country. Now the game is a part of the Indian soul. Back then, besides the sport itself, gambling around it also began. All the story of gambling in India is a fascinating topic that was briefly summarized here.

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