He is banished from the tribe. Two reigns later, King Henry III instructed his clergy that henceforth they were to concentrate on spiritual matters and “leave diceing and chasseing undone on pain of durance vile.”  Possibly his edict was advisory rather than commanding, for when he gambled with his barons he invariably lost to them.  In fact, a sizable portion of Henry’s intended personal contribution to the building of Westminster Abbey disappeared into the pockets of the barons.

Shortly thereafter (as if “diceing and chasseing” weren’t enough for the law givers to deal with), a notable development occurred in the gambling history : Playing cards made their appearance in Europe.  “Made their appearance” is a necessarily vague phrase, because there is no evidence to show whether they were invented or imported.  But whatever their origin, cards whisked through Europe quickly, considering the difficulties of communication in those days.
The ledgers of the French Chamber des Competes (the treasury) contain an entry from 1392 debiting “three louis for painting three packs of cards in gold and different colors, for the king.”  (The king at that time was the mad Charles VI; but the tale that cards were invented to amuse him is clearly apocryphal.)  In 1394 the duke of Saxony played a game of cards with the duke of Letzburg “for an unenclosed portion of the forest of Ardennes.”  And by 1423 card playing had become so popular that St. Bernard of Siena felt called upon to declare in a sermon that cards were invented by the devil himself, and that if people continued playing they would find themselves in hell pretty soon.

     He might as well have saved his breath.  Hell apparently held no terror for card players.  England, the innumerable duchies and principalities of Germany, Scandinavia, and the Slav countries –all had playing cards by 1425.  The like-list bet is that so far as Europe is concerned they were first used (in Italy) about 1350.  And there were a good many people besides testy ST. Bernard who clamped down on their use amoung the masses.  Magistrates and priests were always holding forth about them; and in Paris, Rome, and Bruges there were public card burnings in the city squares.

      Lotteries on the other hand, met with little condemnation.  One reason, undoubtedly, was that the lottery became, for both churches and governments, a favorite means of raising quick funds.  For example, the early settlers in Virginia were financed by a lottery held in 1612; London’s first water supply, in 1631, flowed down a covered aqueduct paid for out of the proceeds of another; a thousand slaves were ransomed from Turkish galleys by another; and the 18th century reign of Queen Anne in Britain was peppered with lotteries, all hopefully (but often uselessly) designed to raise money to lessen the national debt, pay arrears of civil list salaries and pensions, and repair London Bridge, which kept falling down.

But Queen Anne’s lotteries were the mildest form of gambling to flourish at this time.  According to G.M.Trevelyan, in his English Social History, “both sexes gambled freely, the fine ladies and gentlemen even more than the country squires.. The expenses of gambling…burdened estates with mortgages which proved a heavy clog on agricultural improvement and domestic happiness.  Immense sums of money changed hands over cards and dice cheat .”
And Sir Richard Steele, the moralizing British essayist, wrote in 1713: “It is so ordered that almost everything which corrupts the Soul, decays the Body.  The Beauties of the Face and Mind are generally destroyed by the same means….There is nothing that wears out a fine Face like the Vigils of the Card Table, and those Passions which naturally attend them. Hollow Eyes, Laggard Looks, and pale Complexions, are the natural Indications of a Female Gamester….But there is still another case in which  the Body is more endangered than in the former.  All Play Debts must be paid in Specie, or by an equivalent.  The Man who pays beyond his Income, Pawns his Estate; the Woman must find something else to Mortgage when her Pin Money is gone.  The Husband has his Lands to dispose of, the Wife, her Person.”

Steele was by no means exaggerating.  Ladies of quality were not only paying gambling debts with their bodies, but were also offering, when necessary, a debt-paying scale graded by sexual deviations.  It was not altogether surprising that gambling knowledge and licentiousness came to be closely teamed in the 18th century.

An early playing card game , part of a Tarot pack from 15th-century Italy.  Though the Tarot cards were originally used for fortune telling, by Renaissance times the basic pack had been altered greatly and was often used for gambling.  Many Tarot cards bore representations of symbolic or mythological characters: Calliope was the Greek muse of epic poetry.