People love to gamble, and gambling games have been around for as long as we have known how to use stone tools. Throughout the ages, kings and queens, fools and foes have all fought to find luck and fortune. However, to the modern gambler or one who endeavors to earn their fortunes at brick-and-mortar or online casinos, there are perhaps some unknown or overlooked facts about gambling.
These gambling games have evolved over time but have not lost an ounce of popularity on a global scale. The range of gambling games and the ways to play them, from Baccarat to Poker, Blackjack to Roulette is wide and varied. Yet throughout the unique history of gambling, there are instances when fact is stranger than fiction.
Experienced gamblers might even assume that they know all there is to casino and gambling games, but they would be surprised! Did you know that there is a connection between sandwiches and gambling? What about how FedEx got its start, and what it has to do with gambling? Without further ado, Planet 7 Online Casino presents the top 15 crazy facts about gambling!
No. 15 – Las Vegas is not the gambling Mecca of the world
For at least half a century, Las Vegas, Nevada was the top gambling destination of the world. Although many still view Las Vegas as the “holy grail” of gambling destinations, in terms of revenue the autonomous region of Macau, China in the South Eastern Pacific has surpassed Las Vegas’s annual casino and gambling revenues three times over.
Gambling is technically illegal in China, but Macau is not subject to such restrictions due to its autonomous status. This loophole has led to great prosperity in the region, mostly for businesses, and a surge in casino development over the last 15 years.
Macau’s famed Cotai Strip is also home to the largest casino in the world, the mammoth Venetian Macao, which is also the seventh largest building in the world in terms of square footage.
No. 14 – Ancient peoples used dice games to dispense justice
Historians have long known that dice games are some of the oldest forms of gambling games in existence. For millennia, dice were made from various materials; archeologists have uncovered ancient gaming pieces made from bone, animal hooves, wood, rock and other such materials found in nature.
However, one might speculate on the original purpose of dice. Experts claim that ancient cultures believed gods controlled the results of the dice throws and have even been able to prove that dice was not just intended for gambling. In fact, the word dice comes from the goddess of justice “Dike” in Ancient Greek Mythology; which also meant “to throw”.
Ancient peoples and tribal cultures used various forms of dice to predict fortunes, bless new members of the family, condemn criminals, and for various other aspects of society.
The origins of blowing on dice, a superstition intended to bring luck, are harder to trace. Some say that it could have simply evolved from the act of street gamblers blowing on their dice to keep them clean before a throw.
No. 13 – The term “blue chip company” comes from Poker
We have all heard of the term “blue chip” in reference to a company that is considered valuable, even if we haven’t experienced working on Wall Street or rubbed shoulders with a guy named “Gekko”.
However, you might be surprised to learn that the term actually comes from Poker, the world’s most popular card game. During the late 1800s, when Poker was gaining steam as a popular pastime, only three kinds of chips were used: white, red, and blue. White chips were valued lowest, red chips were of middle value and blue chips were the most valuable.
The term “blue chip” came to signify something valuable, and once Wall Street entered a boom in the early 1900s, the term “blue chip” was designated to companies with valuable stock.
Legend has it that the term was coined by Dow Jones trader Oliver Gingold when he wrote of “interest in blue chip stocks”. Standard Poker kits still come with white, red, and blue chips and are usually valued at $1, $5 and $25 respectively.
No. 12 – You can voluntarily ban yourself from a casino
Problem gambling is a very real thing and Planet 7 Online Casino always encourages that players gamble responsibly. After all, as a source of entertainment, gambling at online casinos for real money or at your local brick-and-mortar can be a lot of fun!
However, as an interesting gambling fact, few might not know that in some states/countries, problem gamblers can choose to ban themselves from a casino. In extreme cases, when problem gamblers feel that gambling is ruining their lives, the way to help overcome addiction, in addition to seeking professional help, is by banning themselves from gaming establishments.
This is possible in several states throughout the U.S., whereby an enforced self-ban actually makes it a crime to step foot inside a casino after a self-ban has been established. For instance, the state of Ohio has a law known as “voluntary exclusion”, where problem gamblers can choose to ban themselves from all casinos within the state for a year, five years, or for life. However, if a player does choose a lifetime ban, it is irreversible, so they must be sure of their decision. Always gamble responsibly.
No. 11 – The most outrageous proposition bet
It is no secret that in addition to gambling in a casino, gamblers will often make side bets on their games, or proposition bets among friends. Many people make proposition bets just for fun, but these often do not involve real money.
In the world of professional gambling, however, there have been some rather outrageous true stories involving proposition bets. Probably none as bizarre as the case of Brian the “Wiz” Zembic. In Las Vegas, Zembic is a well-known magician and professional gambler who specializes in blackjack and backgammon. Back in the 1990s, after going through some financial turmoil, Zembic became famous for an entirely different reason. Known as the man willing to bet on almost anything, after a night at the tables, Zembic made a most ridiculous wager. He and a friend wagered that Zembric get breast implants, and if he kept them for a year, he would win $100,000 (nearly $160,000 today).
Zembic did and won the bet! What makes this a more crazy fact is that Zembic never had the implants removed. The reason being that each year he keeps the implants he receives an additional $10,000. Doctors say that his 38C implants are of no health risk. Zembic himself has stated that this is his first bust that he sees as a positive.
No. 10 – Monaco’s citizens cannot gamble at the Monte Carlo
The tiny, autonomous state of Monaco is world renowned as a paradise for the mega-rich as well as a top gambling destination. Of all its many casinos, the Monte Carlo is surely the most famous. It has plenty of glitz and glamor to go around, and has been catering to the upper echelons of society for the last 150 years. However, there is one catch; you can enjoy all that the famed Monte Carlo casino has to offer so long as you meet two requirements: 1) you can afford it 2) you are not a citizen of Monaco.
That’s right. It is illegal for the citizens of Monaco to gamble at the Monte Carlo, or any casino in Monaco for that matter. The reason for this is that Monaco is one of the few countries (technically it’s an independent state) that does not charge an income tax. When the Monte Carlo casino first opened in 1863, Princess Caroline insisted that all revenue generated by the casinos function as a substitute for income tax. Thus, this tiny 0.78 square mile country has more than one luxury. So, if you decide to head on over to Monaco for a lavish roulette session, you might be happy to know that you’re not the only tourist in town!
No. 9 – The numbers on a Roulette wheel add up to 666
One day, you arrive at the casino floor to sit down and gamble at the Roulette table. As you play, you start to wonder, “Who could have devised such a gambling device?”
Back in 1655, a math whizz, inventor and inveterate gambler by the name of Blaise Pascal was obsessed with the idea of creating a “perpetual motion machine, a popular notion of the period. Such a device would be capable of running inexhaustibly on its own energy. Although, this machine has yet to be invented, Pascal accidentally devised a key aspect of one of the most popular casino games of all time, the Roulette wheel!
Anyone familiar with Roulette might be intrigued to know that the numbers on the wheel add up to 666! Was Pascal involved in devilish deeds? Rumor has it that he actually made a deal with the Devil to create the device. Perhaps one’s moral compass need look no further than Roulette to demonstrate gambling as a vice. Whatever the truth is, it is probably a coincidence, or maybe an inside joke by a clever mathematician, or perhaps something more sinister, you decide.
No. 8 – The sandwich was invented in a casino
When you have a name as cool as John Montagu “the fourth Earl of Sandwich”, you are sure to go down in history as having accomplished something. Montagu was a huge gambler, so much so that he never enjoyed interrupting his long gambling sessions for anything, not eating or so much as bathroom breaks. Yikes.
So instead, in 1765, when Montagu was on one of his extra-extended card game sessions he told his servants he had an appetite. Instead of them bringing him a meal that required two hands to eat, Montagu requested some meat between two slices of bread, so that he could eat and play at the same time. Thus, the sandwich was born!
Some argue the validity of the Earl’s story, but historians cannot argue the fact that the name for the tasty morsel stuck. Not long after, all of Europe was craving these sandwiches! While forms of meat in bread have been enjoyed as delectable snack for centuries, no one had come up with a name as cool as “Ol’ Gambling Earl”.
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No. 7 – Las Vegas used to draw crowds with the atomic bomb
Although this might sound like something straight out of a Pynchon novel, the following is actually just another one of the crazy facts of gambling. Starting in 1951, the U.S. Department of Energy began detonating thousands of test nuclear bombs some 65 miles northwest of Glitter Gulch.
Deemed safe for visitors, the scary spectacle drew crowds from all over the continental U.S. to witness massive mushroom clouds visible from the town’s decadent casinos. In true Vegas fashion, the city turned the atom bomb tests into more than just shows, but lucrative business opportunities, proudly advertising that people come to the Strip, gamble, and join in on the festivities at “Atomic Bomb Parties” and even “Miss Atomic Energy” beauty pageants. Talk about bang for your buck!
No. 6 – China’s most notorious criminal loses big at a Macau casino
Unfortunately, sometimes the world of gambling and crime overlap. In China, this was no more evident than with the case of Cheung Tze-keung, a notorious crime boss and gambler known as “Big Spender”.
Sadly, Tze-keung made a name for himself based on a string of armed robberies and high-profile kidnappings that earned him hundreds of millions of dollars. The most infamous story involves “Big Spender” kidnapping the son of one of China’s wealthiest men, Li Ka Shing in 1996, as well as Walter Kwok, for whom he garnered a whopping $178 million in ransom money.
Despite Tze-keung’s efforts to conceal his identity, he was discovered in Macau after having eventually lost some $200 million HK gambling on the casino floors (about $23 million US). During this time, Tze-keung was planning to kidnap one of Macau’s most famous casino magnates, Stanley Ho. Fortunately, authorities were able to stop the plot and “Big Spender” was promptly arrested and imprisoned. Tze-keung’s voracious gambling habit and appetite for crime led to his demise, financially and literally.
No. 5 – Pop-up shops keep obsolete Nevada casinos in business
One of the quirkiest aspects of casino legislation in Nevada has to be a loophole that defunct casino business owners have been using for years. In the 1990s, the state of Nevada stopped issuing new unrestricted gaming licenses to casinos in the area. These licenses are highly coveted, and since the law passed, the unusual practice of casino operators setting up trailer-sized pop–up casinos in order to retain these licenses emerged.
The mini-casinos are only open once for a period of eight hours every 2 years. In some cases, visitors can witness video slot machines being temporarily crammed into decrepit buildings. The building owners chose to go through such measures simply to keep their gaming licenses valid in hopes of enticing future casino prospects. That is some effort just to keep a license!
No. 4 – FedEx founder and CEO saved his company by gambling
FedEx is one of the largest multinational courier delivery service companies in the world. Remarkably, what many do not know is that it would not exist were it not for an incredibly bold and almost reckless move by the company’s founder Fred Smith.
Smith had long dreamed of developing his overnight courier service, but problems arose early on for the business. The 1970s energy and fuel crisis dramatically increased the shipment costs of FedEx, and poor Smith felt the pinch in a big way. After losing over $1 million in a single month, his firm was fast approaching bankruptcy. Unexpectedly, investors started pulling out of the seemingly doomed business, and Smith was out of options.
The courageous CEO decided to ride the waves of chance and used the company’s last $5,000 to gamble at the blackjack table. Fortunately, Smith did well and walked away with $32,000. This was enough to recover his business, and the rest is history. Today, Smith has a personal fortune of $5.5 billion.
No. 3 – Casino magnate Steve Wynn and the “$40 million elbow”
Las Vegas tycoon and casino giant Steve Wynn, who helped shape the Las Vegas Strip in the 1990s with his ritzy mega-casinos, has recently come under fire for allegations of sexual misconduct by various persons and even employees. Despite the recent accusations, this is not the first time that Wynn has made headlines, other than for the launch of a new casino.
Although technically this might not fall under the category of crazy facts of gambling, the story does involve a casino giant and simply put is too good to pass up. Back in 2006, Wynn, who is an avid art collector, accidentally damaged a seminal painting by Pablo Picasso known as “Le Reve” – the Dream.
After immediately selling the painting for a record setting $139 million to close friend and hedge fund manager Steve Cohen, Wynn, while proudly showing off his painting to friends, managed to accidentally put his elbow through the canvas. Realizing what he had done, a shocked Wynn, immediately called for the painting’s restoration, and his blunder came to be known as the “$40 million elbow”. That’s how much it cost him to have it restored.
Don’t feel too bad for Wynn however, he managed to renegotiate a deal and sold the painting for another record breaking $155 million in 2013; one of the largest amounts ever fetched for a Picasso, or any painting for that matter.
No. 2 – Steve Jobs’ father is a casino billionaire
Steve Jobs was without a doubt a compelling, and at times, controversial figure during his lifetime. As co-founder, former CEO and figurehead of Apple, supporters hail Jobs for his genius while his detractors remain critical. Whatever your opinion of Jobs might be, there is no doubt of his impact on Apple. Today, Apple Inc. is the single largest information technology company in the world in terms of revenue; producing everything from mobile devices, tablets and other widely popular gadgets. However, as important as Steve Jobs’ legacy might be today, many might be surprised to learn of his family history.
Shortly before Jobs’ death, his biographer revealed that Jobs, who was adopted, was actually the biological son of Abdulfattah John Jandali, a Syrian refugee from the now devastated city of Homs and prominent businessperson with a Ph.D. in political science and economics. Jandali is the vice president of a successful casino in Reno, Nevada, the Boomtown Casino and Hotel, famous for its “all-you-can-enjoy” Lobster Buffet, and a real estate tycoon with many dealings in all things casino related.
There is no doubt that success runs in the family.
No. 1 – The Las Vegas welcome sign and most of the Strip are not in Las Vegas
You read the headline right. The number one crazy fact for gambling ever is one that needs clarification. The famed Las Vegas Welcome sign, which reads “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas”, has warmly greeted visitors from near and far for nearly 60 years. Everyone from the Rat Pack to Wayne Newton, Elvis Presley and gamblers from all over the world have passed by or at least recognize the Las Vegas welcome sign as the symbol Las Vegas.
However, unbeknownst to many, the sign, which marks the point of entry to the Entertainment Capital of the World, is not actually in Las Vegas proper. It actually sits about four miles south of the city in the separate town of Paradise, which technically means that it is not Las Vegas.
To make matters more outrageous, this same crazy fact applies to Downtown Las Vegas. What? That’s right. Most of Glitter Gulch and the Las Vegas Strip, home to the most famous casinos in the world, is not even in Las Vegas city limits! Most of the 4.2-mile Las Vegas Strip, and casino-hotels like the MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, and the Wynn Las Vegas, are in the neighboring town of Paradise. It’s not all that bad. Even if the sign were corrected and changed to, “Welcome to Paradise”, we doubt many gamblers would argue.
Now that you’ve got the skinny on some of the most outrageous and crazy facts on gambling, why not get started in creating your own imprint in history by winning real money and striking it big with an online casino! Play the best real money casino games at Planet 7 Online Casino and blast off to an incredible world that rivals any casino floor. With over 130 games to choose from, including all of your casino favorites, there’s no limit to the amount of fun and big wins that you can take with you. We’ve got exciting slots, Blackjack, Pai Gow, European and American Roulette, Craps, Poker and much, much more! Don’t hesitate, sign up for a free account today to play at no cost on our “Instant Play” feature or head over to the Cashier to make a deposit to start winning real money! It’s safe, quick and easy, and sure to get you fired up for fun.