Gambling Traditions Across the Globe

One of the oldest activities on the planet, gambling has in many ways been at the heart of world cultures. From Planet Earth to the deepest jungles, to the top of mist-laden mountains, to the Atlantic seaboard and the icy walks of the Arctic Circle, gambling has a place of its own in many different cultures around the world. It continues to evolve.

Each has a gambling heritage linked with specific folklore and history, and each can be laden with gobsmacking superstitions, somehow related to fate, fortune and faith.


Gambling has played an important part in European culture since medieval times, from the casinos of Monte Carlo to the El Gordo Christmas lottery in Spain. The tradition persists to this day.

There are dozens if not hundreds of very popular gambling services and betting sites in Europe. With that in mind, we’ll explore European online gamblers, starting with age. As it turns out, the majority of European gamblers are between 30 and 44 and typically they gamble for recreation purposes.

People all over the world gamble, but countries and cultures differ in their values and norms about it. This might influence how they feel about gambling – perhaps they’d prefer to visit the Berlin casinos rather than those in Los Vegas – and affect their habits and preferences. Betting is enjoyed by millions of consumers worldwide, and each culture has its own viewpoint on it as an enjoyable activity. In the chart below, we examine how each culture looks at gambling as a pastime.

South America

South American gambling cultures show great diversity throughout the continent. In Uruguay and Argentina, commercial casinos, horse-racing, sports wagering, lotteries and other forms of gambling are all sanctioned and encouraged while in other nations an ostrich-like conservatism prevails; elsewhere governments take the draconian position that gambling is an immoral depravity that threatens social order.

As our globalised world becomes more interdependent, and as diverse cultures ever more overlap and borrow from one another, a kaleidoscopic picture of beliefs emerges; a picture that reflects humans’ hopes, dreams and their 3,000-year-old preoccupation with gambling for that all-important quest to hit the jackpot. From simple luck beliefs to more elaborate constructs arising out of supernatural belief systems – each culture has their own gambling beliefs; from casino life in Las Vegas to remote village communities somewhere in the Pacific Islands – these beliefs play an important role in shaping gambling landscapes in countries – for example nightclubs and gambling machines in pubs and clubs are popular gambling venues in Australia and New Zealand, where making bets on these machines is more common than traditional forms of gambling.

Middle East

The Middle East is also host to a plethora of various cultures with their diversified views and beliefs of gambling and their abstract ritualised gambling practices .insky : Tradition is still associated with good luck where people evoke the spirits of their ancestors before playing card games and board games .

Although it prohibits casino gambling, the Middle East boasts a thriving sports-betting industry for decades. Given its heterogeneous political landscape and public opinion towards sports betting, much of the region is split on sports betting; the religiously conservative ones might be against betting sports because of religious beliefs; but many are drawn into it with the enticing possibility of winning it big on online sportsbooks.

With its cultural diversity, Europe has its own peculiar gambling superstitions to complete the cultural beauty of gamblers. European gamblers prefer a horseshoe or fourleaf clover as a lucky charm they carry with them in order to bring good luck to themselves and their gambling affairs.


Gambling has a long tradition in Asia. From mahjong to Pachinko and the casino tables of Macau – which, just this year, overtook Las Vegas in terms of gaming revenue – social ceremonies often involve surreptitious gambling; tourists as well as locals add to this heady mix of ancient customs and modern day-tripping to create a fascinating atmosphere in places where gamblers are welcomed.

Despite the rich cultural legacy of gambling, it has its drawbacks. One of the biggest is problem gambling with a disproportionately high percentage of problem gamblers coming from Asian communities. Some societies view addictions negatively, while others have embraced them as a means to create jobs and stimulate economic development.

Example: the game of Cho-han (roughly translated as ‘general and adjutant’), a widely disseminated dice game of Japanese origin, is replete with efficacy rituals that players feel enhance their chances of success; similar practices are often observed among players of slot machines, who touch physical elements of the machine before operating the reel.

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