The history of gambling in China is fascinating because gambling has been around since ancient times. Gambling is believed to have started in China and then eventually covered the world. Gambling in the form of casinos, poker circuits, racetracks, betting shops, etc. is expected to top off the records at approximately $144 billion in 2011. Online gambling is only fifteen years old and generates billions in annual revenue around the globe even though it is banned in the United States.
The game Wei-Qi dates back to 3000 B.C., used a board with 19 lines, and used stone playing pieces. The use of Chinese symbols and tiles in gambling games is very old. Mahjong has regained more popularity in recent years and is often played today as a four-person table game in social gatherings and some tournaments. Having originally been made of ivory, many sets today are made of bone or plastic. Another game is Yue Har Hai, a Chinese New Year festival game with symbols on a game board. Players place their chips on the symbols, and the winners are decided by a roll of the dice and what symbols that come up.
The Chinese and many other populations enjoy lottery, which evolved from the ancient playing card game, Keno. China developed paper and money made from paper and began shuffling paper money back as far as 900 A.D. This may have been the start of shuffling playing cards.
Another popular gambling sport is horse and football betting, which is widely practiced in China as well as other countries. Horse racing has been legal in Hong Kong since 1884.
Macao is the only Chinese territory where you can legally gamble. Its casinos, which have been legalized since 1962, now have more revenue than Las Vegas. In the mid 1800s-early 1900s roulette and other casino games were offered in Shanghai, China.
Gambling implements as old as 2300 B.C. have been found in ancient China Found in Egypt was a pair of ivory dice dating back to 1500 B.C. Even tablets inside pyramids in Giza have writings where gambling is mentioned.
As far back as 1000 A.D., the kings of Norway and Sweden used a dice game to decide the ownership of a district claimed by both. Chinese dominoes dated back to approximately 700 B.C.
Now realized as part of the human psyche since it goes back to ancient days, gambling has been banned over and over again but always seems to end up victorious in its battles to be resurrected! The Middle Ages found soldiers prohibited from taking part in games so as not to deter their duties, and England's King Henry VIII did the same.
Source: History of Gambling