The Fascinating History of Gambling in Ancient Greece

A brief look at Ancient Greece’s love for gambling.

4 min readMay 16, 2022


Photo Credits: Greece Hight Definition

Gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry, with places like Las Vegas essentially building their entire appeal on the activity.

Despite its popularity, it is widely considered a vice, with the titular Vegas self-identifying as the “City of Sin.”

Surprisingly, the history of gambling goes further back than many realize!

The first Abrahamic religion, Judaism, outlawed gambling and declared it a grave sin.

However, not all periods of history featured such a disdain for the endeavor.

The Greeks were notorious gamblers, and the activity even garnered divine approval!

Mixed Feelings

Though gambling was prevalent in Ancient Greece, not everyone was all that approving of it.

Notably, philosophers of the time were particularly concerned about the potential dangers of gambling. They believed it led to addiction, cheating, and general immorality.

Gambling became such a problem at one point that governmental measures had to be taken to reduce its prevalence.

Despite many intellectuals not being in favor of the activity, it persisted.

What helped was that it was a hobby even the Gods indulged in.

At least two Gods were widely known to enjoy gambling. These Gods were Hermes and Pan.

Furthermore, there are some stories that say even the likes of Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon, the most important Gods in all of Greek mythology.

It should be clarified that the ancient Greeks did not declare their Gods’ actions moral outright.

The Greeks thought their Gods were as flawed as they were.

This attitude toward the divine is likely why philosophers were able to advise against this practice without being labeled an apostate.

Games of Choice

The Greeks played many gambling games, with many of the games’ components still being used today.




I am a History Educator and a Lifelong Learner with a Masters in Global History.