Was There Gambling in Ancient Greece?

Gambling has been a prevalent activity for many centuries, and ancient Greece is no exception. While the Greeks are known for their contributions to art, philosophy, and science, they also had a fascination with gambling. In fact, gambling was an integral part of their culture, and evidence suggests that it was prevalent among both the upper and lower classes.

The History of Gambling in Ancient Greece

The earliest forms of gambling in ancient Greece can be traced back to the 6th century BC. The Greeks were known to place bets on various sporting events such as the Olympic Games, as well as on animal fights and chariot races. In addition to these physical activities, dice games were also popular among the Greeks.

One of the most popular games played by the Greeks was called “Kubeia,” which involved rolling dice and trying to get the highest score possible. This game was so popular that it even made its way into Greek mythology, where it was said that Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades played Kubeia to determine who would rule over which domain.

Gambling in Greek Society

While gambling was prevalent in ancient Greece, it was not always looked upon favorably. The philosopher Plato spoke out against gambling in his work “Laws,” stating that it leads to greed and corruption. However, despite these criticisms from some members of society, many Greeks still enjoyed gambling.

Gambling was especially popular among soldiers during times of war. It gave them a way to pass the time while waiting for battle or during periods of downtime. Additionally, soldiers would often gamble with their weapons or armor as collateral.

The Role of Women in Gambling

While men were primarily responsible for participating in gambling activities in ancient Greece, women also played a role. Women were often involved in betting on horse races or chariot races as spectators.

However, women’s involvement in gambling was not always accepted by society. The philosopher Aristotle criticized women who gambled, believing that it was a sign of moral weakness.


In conclusion, gambling was prevalent in ancient Greece and played an important role in their society. From dice games to sporting events, the Greeks enjoyed participating in various forms of gambling. While some members of society spoke out against gambling, it remained a popular activity among both men and women.