History of Backgammon

Online backgammon is a relatively new trend, but the game of Backgammon has a history that’s much longer, and is known as the oldest game known to man. To make its history even more fascinating, it’s still played today and it has a longer existence than just gambling games with a history that’s estimated to have begun around 30,000 BC.

The Very Beginnings of Backgammon

Recently in Egypt playing boards were excavated that were similar to the Backgammon boards used today.   With this artefacts being discovered that date back to ancient civilizations in the Far East, India, Greece, Rome as well as Egypt, it’s apparent that Backgammon might have been a popular activity for royalty and aristocrats in these ancient populations. Although it’s been predicted that Backgammon was quite similar back then, archaeologists also believe that there may have been some variations to the game that we know today.

Roman Backgammon – Tabular

In Rome, a different version of Backgammon was played historically that was referred to as Tabular. It used the same board that we use today to play Backgammon, but instead of using two dice, it actually used three. Despite the differences in the game, Rome was responsible for a great deal of the popularity of the game as the legions of the Royal Empire brought it to the rest of Europe. In Rome, the game of Backgammon didn’t really survive when the nation fell, though English Saxon nations did continue to play it regularly.  The two dice version of the game was only introduced later.

The Introduction of Two Dice Backgammon

During the Arabic Kingdom Crusades two dice Backgammon was adopted, and after this period, the Europeans began to play it as well!   It’s believed that the identical Backgammon rules were used at this stage, and that the board and format resembled what is played today!

Backgammon Prohibited

Like many forms of gambling, Backgammon did run into some problems that resulted in prohibition by the English Church that did not support playing any game for money. These struggles continued between the 13th and 16th centuries when Backgammon was prohibited then sanctioned over and over again throughout history. It was this prohibition that caused the design of the modern Backgammon board, which was designed to be easily hidden and concealed during periods when the game was illegal across Europe. Even despite these efforts, there are still records that show that people had their Backgammon boards seized and burned in an attempt for authorities to stop people from playing it.
During the Elizabethan era, once Backgammon was sanctioned again, it really grew and popularity and that was the first time it was recorded by name – so it’s been assumed that around this stage the name “Backgammon” officially came into existence.

Backgammon as We Know it Today

Backgammon has a long history, but it came to the Western world only with the European settlers and this is when it really took off, at least according to written history. Once Backgammon appeared in the Americas, a substantial number of books were written, including by some major historical figures including Jefferson.  It had a great start in America until the 19th century when the popularity seemed to decline noticeably. It continued to be popular in the Mediterranean and Asia and only resurfaced in the 1920s when the doubling cube was introduced. No one knows who the inventor of this device was, but it definitely changed the course of Backgammon  since around this time Backgammon Clubs began opening across the United States in order to accommodate its growing popularity, and at this point, it really became a more mainstream form of gambling.

Of course, now Backgammon is available online to players as well which has made the game even more popular with players looking to play from the comforts of their own homes. The game has been around for about a decade, with some of the original Backgammon sites setting up shop in the early days of mainstream internet use. But it’s really only been over the past few years that it’s found greater popularity with an online audience. It still doesn’t quite have the numbers that many online casinos face, but it’s certainly well on its way to becoming a game that is played in the comforts of homes all across the United States and around the world.