Gambling is something which has been a part of human culture for centuries. While it can be a lot of fun for many people, and while it might be a huge driver of tourism and trade across areas such as Las Vegas, gambling can also have its negative sides. In fact, in the past few decades, gambling has started to be recognised more and more as a legitimate source of addiction. The thrill of just playing a few more games of roulette, or placing a few more bets, can get too much for some people.
That’s why regulation both in physical; gambling industries as well as online has increased massively over the past few years. The rise of online bingo and slots games, for example, has brought casino gambling to more and more people on a hugely convenient basis. It’s always possible to look for help with gambling if you feel that you are struggling to keep control of your money.
Before we take a look at a few facts, figures and statistics, if you feel you are affected by gambling or that you may be addicted, please make sure to seek advice either from GamCare or BeGambleAware, both of whom offer plenty of support and guidance to those who feel they may be losing control of their betting.
Let’s take a look at a stack of casino and gambling facts which might surprise you – and please remember to play games responsibly.
- In the USA, if you feel that you are struggling with a gambling addiction, you can actually choose to ban yourself from several casinos. This means that you can voluntarily elect to face arrest if you set foot in specific casinos or suites from state to state. For many people, this acts as something of a useful deterrent, forcing them to look for fun elsewhere, or as a good measure to curb spiralling behaviour.
- One of the most famous casinos on the planet is in Europe, in the relatively tiny country of Monaco. The immense Monte Carlo Casino is visited by gamblers from all over the world, but it’s actually illegal for citizens of the country to actually gamble in the casino itself.
- It’s technically illegal to gamble any kind of money in Japan. While these rules are thought to be undergoing a rethinking – though nothing is set in stone yet – pachinko is completely legal. This is a game where you win balls to spend on gifts or tokens to keep playing. It’s pretty common to see rows and rows of pachinko parlours from city to city in Japan.
- Bizarrely enough, Monaco citizens are free from having to pay any income taxes. That’s because the state uses casino profits to pay towards public services instead!
- It’s thought that, if not for gambling, we wouldn’t have the sandwich. Famously, it was the Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, who came up with the idea of putting food between two slices of bread. But what was he doing at the time to warrant such ginger-friendly food? He was playing cards. Quite whether or not Montagu was such a voracious gambler is up to speculation.
- One of the most famous gamblers in history was Nikola Telsa, the legendary innovator and inventor. It’s thought that Tesla suffered something of a nervous breakdown after losing all his money he was going to use on tuition. Thankfully, he recovered enough to create the teslacoil!
- There is actually a casino that’s thought to be built into the back of a taxi – yes, really. Said to be the smallest casino in the world, this mobile gambling unit is based in a London cab, and it’s owned by the Grosvenor line. This is no ordinary taxi already, of course, but you can go anywhere in the city you’d like providing you pay a small donation. Otherwise, the cab will take you to the main casino itself at no extra cost. There’s even a TV with sports available for you to watch and enjoy while in the back, too!
- Finland has a very interesting approach to gambling in general. The state controls all of the gambling and casino activities in the country. While this might sound oppressive, it is actually all done in the name of a good cause. All profits Finnish casinos and gambling operators make go directly to regional charities.
- Slot machines as we know them today only ever give away cash – if we’re lucky enough. However, believe it or not, the original models built in the US towards the end of the 19th century used to dispense gum and tokens. It’s thought the reason why you see fruit on the reels – and why they are often referred to as fruit machines – is as a result of fruit-flavoured gum!
- There are many people who will gamble to the extreme, and it is never recommended. One such example is Brian Zembic, who is such an avid better that he accepted a $100,000 bet that he wouldn’t have breast implants fitted for a year. A man of his word, Zembic saw the year out and then some – ending up keeping them two decades on.
- Many people believe that Las Vegas, Nevada, is the world’s gambling capital. However, there’s actually a city out east which makes more than five times the revenue that Las Vegas generally receives! The city in question is Macau, and it’s the only area in China where you can legally gamble at a casino environment. Believe it or not, most of the money at the city’s casinos generally comes from private betting and VIP lounges, rather than the public floors and arrays.
- Ten pin bowling exists as a result of gambling laws and restrictions. Believe it or not, nine pin bowling was once seen as a scurrilous activity – at least by authorities in the state of Connecticut, US in 1841! The way to get around this – oddly enough – was to add a pin as a loophole! Since the 19th century, bowling has become a fun sport and hobby activity for families all over the world, not just in the US.
- Many people are very superstitious about gambling. If this is true to yourself, too, then try not to add up all the numbers you’ll normally find on a roulette wheel. There’s a reason why some refer to it as the Devil’s Wheel as, oddly enough, the total of all the numbers you can spin comes to 666, the traditional ‘number of the beast’.
- Remember Tamagotchi? The leading digital pet of the 1990s was one of the biggest toys of the era. However, one model was almost banned outright as it came with a miniature slot machine game built in! Many parents worried that their children would start to develop unhealthy gambling addictions from a young age!
- Legend states that FedEx once paid off a hefty fuel bill and travel costs thanks to the CEO, Fred Smith, who took the last bit of money they had to a casino – where he was able to convert $5,000 into the handsome sum of $27,000. However, as is the nature of gambling, this story could have turned out rather differently – and we may not still be using FedEx at all nowadays.
- A modern legend – from 2016 – saw a woman from North Carolina buy a scratch card for her husband to demonstrate how pointless gambling is in practice. However, this act backfired in the best possible way – as she won $1 million. “It was well worth it in this case,” she advised on technically losing an argument!
- The world of video gaming has had its fair share of brushes with gambling law, particularly in 1999, when two boys once tried to sue Japanese gaming giant Nintendo. The boys alleged that Pokémon fuelled their gambling addictions. There is a section of the original Pokémon game where you can play slots!
- A now-infamous anti-gambling advert which circulated around Singapore at the time of the 2014 World Cup featured two boys in football kits. One is saying to the other, “I hope Germany wins. My Dad bet all my savings on them.” Guess who went on to win the tournament?
- Despite this, the advertising altered after the tournament, where the boy states to his friend that his father continues to gamble despite the big win.
- There was a strange case of gambling behaviour being a knock-on effect of Parkinson’s drugs. A small, contained trial of people suffering with Parkinson’s Disease found that at least 11 people in the study developed intense compulsions to gamble. Oddly enough, these compulsions stopped as soon as they came off the course of treatment.
- Time and time again, bookmakers and odds sites have proven that – on average – they are better at picking the winners of political elections than official polls. Therefore – if you’re interested to see who’s going to win a big political seat – it might be best to trust the bookies first!
- Oddly enough, much of what people have come to call the famous Las Vegas Strip – even the world-famous welcome sign – isn’t in Las Vegas itself. Much of it is based in Paradise, a nearby town. This is fairly odd given how much fame the city has earned over the years! Therefore, if you do visit the Strip in the years to come – keep in mind you’re heading towards Paradise, not Las Vegas itself.
- There’s a bizarre practice in Las Vegas whereby you’ll find all kinds of miniature casinos popping up once in a while. Changes to licencing for casinos in Nevada meant that building owners looking to hold casino games would need to occasionally set up pop-up stations for games every so often. To be able to keep an active casino licence every two years, a building will need to set up games for at least eight hours during the period. It’s a strange loophole which is still being used to this day.
- The US Civil War saw plenty of gambling action during downtime. It’s thought that card decks became rare commodities amongst troops thanks to the sheer popularity of gaming and gambling. This is all despite the fact that gambling was widely discouraged – and believe it or not, there were even moments were soldiers from North and South would secretly meet on the border to gamble during quiet times.
- It’s completely illegal to gamble in South Carolina, US. However, that hasn’t stopped local companies exploiting a loophole where people can pay to travel out to international waters, where it is legal for them to play games via boat! Who would have thought this loophole would have persisted for so long?
- Steve Jobs, best known as the hugely successful head guru of Apple and responsible for the game-changing iPhone and iPad ranges, was actually the biological son of a huge casino mogul. Specifically, Jobs’ father was Abdulfattah John Jandali, the vice president the Boomtown Casino in Reno, also known for real estate success.
- King Henry VIII, reportedly the king of all kinds of vices, was also a bit of a gambling fan. So much so, in fact, that it’s thought he partook in all kinds of games – from dice to cards. However, he wasn’t often very good at making the right choices. It’s thought that he gambled away the bells of St Paul’s – to the chagrin of the public. In fact, he earned a strong, negative reputation for being a compulsive and irresponsible player of dice!
- While you might mainly know of the Moulin Rouge from the Baz Luhrmann movie, it was a massive game changer for civil rights in the industry. Specifically, it was the first establishment on the Las Vegas Strip to allow African American people to work as game dealers and wait staff. It became known as the first interracial hotel during the infamous Jim Crow era, though would eventually lock down – and to this day, space is all that’s left.