The Right to Play, Bet and Gamble

The social practice of gambling and betting is ancient.  Laws governing entertainment are almost as old. The knowledge that the human desire to play and bet does not only emanate joy but also dangers goes back a long way.


Sports and gambling

Games such as those found in and wagering are among the oldest amusements of man. They are primarily not legally shaped, but appearances of social life. In ancient times, the public organization of games and competitions was of political importance. During Greece’s Olympics, sports play becomes an expression of superior culture. In Rome, bread and games are signs of a despotic understanding of the rule, while the widespread game of dice is considered perishable.


Social and psychological significance of sports and gambling

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Psychological and social significance of gambling is also varied. For the Venetian nobility of the 16th and 17th centuries, the casino was the touchstone for political office, as sovereignty and self-confidence could be demonstrated here in moments of luck and bad luck. The bet, on the other hand, is a means of reinforcing conflicting claims. It creates economically playful incentives in everyday disputes and combines calculation and effects when making future prognoses.

The social practice of gaming and betting is ancient, but the legal regulations that affect it also emerged early on. A first historical perspective of the right to play and wager lies in the interaction of social practice with the law. Already in antiquity, legal ideas were linked to games and wagers.


Games and betting

Betting and games have evidently influenced the understanding of fundamental legal figures. There is a correlation between the bet and the legal understanding of the contract.

The basic structure of the contractual promise corresponds to the bet. Claiming that a certain future event would occur was tied to conditional self-judgment if it did not. The bet is a kind of archetype for the emergence of an obligation to act through self-commitment.

The historical development of the law of gaming and betting is also revealing because it runs on the boundary between social self-organization and sovereign regulation.

Addiction to gambling and betting

Gambling and betting pose dangers on the one hand and, on the other hand, economically significant cash flows which, from the point of view of the respective legislators, suggested that they should be legally recorded.