Evolving Casinos

Gambling and Mythology

Gambling comes in many different forms. In today's casinos, games such as craps, roulette, and the ever-present poker are central to the business. An entire, multi-billion dollar gambling industry has grown from this hugely popular pastime. There are more forms of gambling than just the ones offered in casinos though. The most basic idea behind gambling is that there is a profit to be made when a person correctly predicts the direction in which the capricious winds of Chance blow, and there are a lot of ways to do this. The thrill of throwing a person's lot in with something as unpredictable and uncontrollable as the random and infinite probabilities of luck can be a lot of fun, and if the Fates should deem a person to be victorious, there's even more fun to be had. It's no wonder then, that gambling is quite possibly as old as humanity itself, ever present in mythology.

There has been evidence that prehistoric man had participated in gambling games, and it has been said the Ancient Greeks even bet on the Olympic Games. The myths and legends of antiquity have made mention of this pastime. In fact, in the Iliad, one of the oldest and greatest works of literature and mythology of Classical times, the conflict that had led to the Fall of Troy had been precipitated by an ill-fated bet between Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom, and Hera, jealous spouse of Zeus and goddess of hearth and home.

Like a mischievous gambler who throws in a play just to mess things up, the goddess of discord, Eris, presented a golden apple that was marked "for the fairest" among the three. After much disagreement, it was agreed that the prince of Troy, Paris, would decide which one of them would be the fairest. Each of the three goddesses offered him something that he desired, and gambled that he would choose her.

Aphrodite, the goddess whom Paris chose as the fairest, offered that he would have the love of the most beautiful mortal woman in the world. That woman was Helen of Troy. It was Paris and Helen's union that had set the stage for the Trojan War. Aside from not quite having a bankroll, these three goddesses hadn't quite thought out the consequences of their actions. Nonetheless, it was this wager that marked the start of one of the greatest works of literature and mythology in the Western world, one that involved one of the most famous bets ever conceived.

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