Weird and wonderful facts from the world of gambling
Gambling is super fun, but given the fact that it dates back centuries, it’s also kinda crazy too. Having been through so many different iterations and evolutions over the years, gambling is full of weird and wonderful surprises – so we thought we’d take you through some of them, so you can see just how bizarre your favourite pastime actually is.
1. The invention of gambling. You’ve heard of Nikola Tesla right? Noted rival of Thomas Edison, famed inventor, and designer of the AC supply system. But did you also know that he was a keen gambler too? Actually, compulsive is probably a better word for it, as while Tesla was in his third year of studying at the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, he managed to spend all his money on gambling – everything he needed for fees, food and other daily necessities. While it’s not a strategy we would EVER recommend, Tesla eventually managed to win back his losses (DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME) and repay the money he’d spent – however he soon reverted back to his old ways once he arrived in the USA. Moral of the story? Even if you’re a world-famous inventor, never play with more than you can afford to lose. Lightbulb moment.
2. No dice. Yep no, that’s not happening. That’s what the expression, ‘no dice’ means, and it’s likely one you’re pretty familiar with. But where did it come from? Here we have the US to thank, and its prohibition on gambling in the early 20th century. Of course, because people are rebellious by nature and would rather be arrested than bow to ‘The Man’, gambling continued, despite being illegal in a number of states. Gambling venues went underground, and if any were ever raided by police, gamblers simply swallowed the evidence. Now that’s commitment to a cause! Of course because there was no evidence to prosecute illegal gamblers after swallowing the dice, they were let go. No dice, no arrest. Not happening.
3. To gamble or not to gamble. If you’ve got a partner who’s completely committed to gambling, but completely incapable of winning, it can be incredibly annoying, and a drain on your finances in the long-term as well. That’s the point that a North Carolina woman had reached with her husband, when she was sick of him wasting their money on lottery tickets. When he asked her to buy him a Powerball ticket, she decided to exact her revenge by purchasing a $10 Carolina Millions scratch card instead, to show him just how much of their time and money he was wasting. Unfortunately her plan backfired a little, when she ended up winning a cool $1 million! She might have lost that argument but the million dollar prize more than made up for it. All of which goes to show that even if you do find yourself on a losing streak, you’re always only one outcome away from a life-changing win.
3. Special delivery. Everyone knows FedEx, but what everyone might not know is that it only exists today as a result of gambling. How could that be possible? Just ask CEO Fred Smith, who in 1973 was facing the very real threat of bankruptcy. In order to keep his failing business afloat, Smith made one last-ditch attempt at a Hail Mary. He took the company’s last $5,000 out of the bank, and bet it all on a game of Blackjack. The result? An unbelievable win of $27,000, and a world-famous courier company that exists to this day. Gambling delivered on time, and now so does FedEx.
4. A deal with the devil. You wouldn’t play something known as ‘The Devil’s Game’, would you? Chances are, you already have. We’re talking about Roulette of course, and its rise in popularity thanks to the casinos of Monte Carlo – in particular, the Monte Carlo Casino, and its operator, François Blanc. Legend has it that ‘The Magician of Monte Carlo’ acquired the secrets of Roulette through a deal with the devil – which is why all the numbers on the Roulette wheel add up to a spine-tingling 666. We don’t know how true the whole ‘deal with the devil’ thing is, but it’s true that Roulette is horrifically exciting, so, who knows?
5. Big in Japan. Gambling in Japan is a thing, and a huge one at that. But it’s also an unusual thing, thanks to a certain loophole in its laws. When people in Japan gamble, they don’t play for cash – they play for Pachinko balls instead. The balls can’t be removed from their premises, and so they’re exchanged for certain prizes – which are then exchanged for cash at a second external venue. It’s a bit of a process but it’s one that allows players to enjoy their favourite games, and reap the rewards too. That’s some loophole!
6. Play your cards right. You know the four card suits of spades, clubs, hearts and diamonds, but do you know how they actually came into being? Believe it or not, the four card suits represent four different classes of French society – clubs for peasants and hard work, diamonds for merchants earning their wealth, hearts for the priesthood and their relationship with God, and spades for royalty and the weapons they use to keep the peace. So now you know – and you’ll be an amazing addition to any pub quiz team too!
7. All bets are off. The country of Monaco is famous for its casinos, particularly its world-famous Monte Carlo Casino. But did you know that citizens of Monaco are actually banned from entering the casino? Monegasques have Princess Caroline to thank for this restriction, as in the mid-1800s, she declared gambling illegal and the casino off-limits to citizens, in order to protect them from the negative effects of gambling. It might sound a bit harsh, especially considering Monaco’s reputation as a gambling mecca, but in a delicious twist, citizens don’t have to pay a cent of income tax. Our French is terrible, but that’s a jackpot in any language!
Happy Spinning 🙂