The name of the first bookmakers is unknown, but there are several theories as to who they were.
The first bookmaker was most likely an enterprising person with a keen sense of probability and some access to chalk or other tools for marking surfaces, such as stone or tree bark.
The first bookmaker’s offices
The first evidence of this occupation is found in the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” which is believed to have been written in Mesopotamia. One passage in the text, a clay tablet dating from about 2000 B.C., contains a description of men who look like bookmakers taking bets on horse races.
bet fair – A reliable and time-tested bookmaker
The earliest known mention of gambling comes from ancient Egypt, which speaks of a predilection for gambling among the nobility. Dice, believed to have been imported from Mesopotamia, were also popular in Egypt because of its relative aridity and hence the lower prevalence of diseases that spread through water pollution. To regulate gambling, the emperor Hammurabi imposed a strict set of laws and penalties, including fines and flogging. The first bookmakers were probably gamblers themselves, as opposed to trained professionals like those working today. Because betting was such a popular pastime among the Mesopotamians and Egyptians, man had little motivation to make money by taking bets; instead, he was encouraged to gamble and either win or lose with his peers.
Bookmaking in Literature.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is the first postclassical collection of stories in the vernacular, including a number of fables and anecdotes. Some sources claim that it is the first work of literature written in English by a single author, rather than translations of foreign works. One passage in the text mentions a monk and an apprentice: “There was an apprentice who had just been fed.
The mention of the apprentice indicates that bookmakers were alive and well in Chaucer’s time, since it is unlikely that the apprentice would have had time to hone his craft of beating people with sticks. This suggests that bookmaking was a relatively common practice in Europe at the time, which may mean that it was already an established profession.
A later reference is found in William Shakespeare’s play Henry V, written around 1599. In Act 1, Scene 3, the Lord Chief Justice of England addresses the Dukes of Gloucester and Exeter: “And here is a commission from thy town hall for a room for thy brother, the Duke of Suffolk.
A wise and learned gentleman, Judge Shallow!
He will give you excellent advice.”
In his conversation with Gloucester and Exeter, Lord Chief Justice specifically mentions the problem of gambling. Therefore, we can conclude that bookmakers most likely appeared in England quite early.