How Gambling Began? | Stories From the Old Box

Tuesday January 24, 2023

How Gambling Began? | Stories From the Old Box
  (Source:Getty Images)

When you care about something for a long time, you definitely think about how it started. For me, this applies to gambling! Although the casinos feature a wide range of games, each game originated in different circumstances, cultures and times. The games developed slowly and moved with merchants and travellers around the world and eventually settled in modern gambling halls. However, gambling does not stop developing as it has moved online and, thus, players from all over the world can enjoy playing in non GamStop casinos from the comfort of their own homes. There are more developments in the virtual gambling industry which include virtual reality, live casino games, and mobile casino games, but, in this article, I will focus on the history of gambling.

My fascination for everything to do with gambling started around the age of twelve. In my short life, I had already learned a lot from my parents. They took me to a fair where I came into contact with the wheel of adventure. This is a game of chance. And as a little boy, I played this Money Wheel regularly at the fancy fairs that were also held in the churches.

On vacations, in the 70s I was already exposed to the amusement centres of the world. I especially liked a game of pinball there.

Various gambling games were also played at fairs in the UK and abroad, such as money shifters or grab machines, on which I tried my luck more than once.

Trigger Moments

I can remember six times in my young life when the gambling virus took root in my body.

And I sometimes ask myself the following question: suppose I hadn't experienced these moments, wouldn't I have become a casino lover?

1981 - Bingo in Hilversum

Even then, there were regular big bingos in Hilversum. And my mother used to go here regularly. She thought I should come along just once, instead of our regular museum visit.

I was about eleven years old and I attended evening bingo with my mother. And I was the only child present. My classmates thought my mother was 'pleasantly disturbed', but everyone wanted to have a mother like that.

I was close all night but didn't win a single prize until the last lap started. That last round, of course, went for the main prize. The main prize consisted of two new bicycles, a women's and a men's bicycle.

I remember the moment I called BINGO so well. That moment, and the joy that comes with it. However, there was someone who also shouted BINGO. And we were going to raffle for the top prize.

The winning woman offered to get a bike for both of us and I got to choose. This men's bicycle has been in our attic for years because I was still too small to ride it.

This moment made a huge impression on me. And that's why I'm still a bingo fan.

1982 — Hommerson Funland

The video games have changed my life. I have spent so many hours here. I mainly looked at the youngsters playing Paperboy, Space Invaders, Pac Man or one of the other dozens of arcade games.

Pinball, fishing pole and car racing; Funland Scheveningen had it all. This was heaven for me and what good memories I have of this.

My mother would usually pick me up at the end of the afternoon. But before she did, she walked through the arcade to the slot machines.

Here she thoroughly enjoyed the slot machines that did not yet refund money if you won during that period. At that time you were paid points. And with these points, you could again pick out things that were beautifully displayed in the glass display cabinets.

I remember a moment like it was yesterday: my mother calling me from the gambling hall. I hid and stood between my mother and the slot machine.

This moment was so magical and soon one of the employees came to say that this was not the intention.

1983 — The Slot Machine at the Car Garage

Nowadays you have the Kwik Fit but in my time you just went to a (boonhaas) garage. And we were regular customers at the garage on the Loosdrechtse Dijk.

I was always happy to go as there was a real old-fashioned slot machine in this garage that you could play for 1 guilder. And you could also win real guilders.

I wasn't very wealthy myself, but my mother usually threw in about five guilders. I was always mesmerized looking at this machine where you really had to pull the lever. And you heard the rollers click.

I see that this garage is now a real specialist garage. And wonder if owner Jan Lamme knows what he has on his conscience.

1986 — the Slot Machine at the Snack Bar

We go one year further in time and end up in 1986, the year known for the nuclear accident in Ukraine (Chernobyl).

I had turned 16 and you could officially take a gamble at the slot machine in the snack bar. These were the times. And in retrospect, this was not a smart move by the government and the vending machine industry.

A 16-year-old playing a slot that costs a quarter with each press is not a good plan. This is where things sometimes went wrong and sometimes I wasted more money than I would have liked.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and what odds of winning you had, or actually not. I had to bridge this period until 1988.

Then on my birthday, I went with my mother and best friend to the Holland Casino Amsterdam Center in the Hilton. And there I miraculously won 300 guilders on one of the slot machines.