Gambling is an evolving and at times unusual activity. However, within this pastime, there are some facts that are lesser known to those who casually or even regularly participate. We have compiled a list of some of the weirder facts about the history of gambling that you might be shocked to learn.
1- The first slot machine was invented by a mechanic
You read that right! The earliest version of the slot machine was invented in the late 1800s by auto shop owner Charles Fey. The engineer wanted to construct something that would entertain his customers as they were waiting for their cars to be fixed. Being a car mechanic, he decided to build an interactive game, which would later be recognised as the first Liberty Bell machine slot game.
His innovative idea continued to evolve over the next century, making its way into casinos and eventually into the online realm.
2- King Henry VIII was one of the most unsuccessful gamblers in history
King Henry VIII’s history is widely spoken about due to the tumultuous relationships he had with his wives. The infamous Tudor took a liking to things that seemed to be unfavourable to those around him. A lesser-known fact about his private life is that he was a very unsuccessful gambler. He regularly enjoyed playing dice games and an earlier version of Backgammon, which at the time was known as “Tables.”
The infamous King of England frequented public gambling events, betting on whatever was popular at that time. After a two-year losing streak, he had lost a significant amount of money and even lost important artefacts, sometimes in a singular dice throw. It seems that marriage wasn’t the only thing he was ineffective at!
3- Monkeys like to gamble
A study conducted by M. Keith Chen entitled How basic are behavioural biases? Evidence from Capuchin Monkey Trading Behaviour demonstrated that monkeys are not only capable of using money but can also trade. Monkeys of the capuchin breed were taught to exchange one item for another. These items varied from desirable items to mundane ones.
They would hoard silver discs that they started with, gaining enough to acquire these desirable objects. The results showed that the monkeys that accumulated wealth appeared to wait for items to drop in price and eventually started making trades. This study helped gain insight into the human brain’s ability and response to gambling.
4- In many countries, gambling is illegal for its own citizens
Many countries and cities rely on gambling tourism to boost their economy. But many of these places limit the entertainment to visitors only. There are many reasons for this from careless gambling to criminal activity.
However, as many citizens enjoy responsible gambling, many businesses have found creative ways to introduce gambling that isn’t actually gambling! In Japan, gambling has been illegal since 1907, so many residents opt for games such as Pachinko to be able to join in on the fun.
Monaco is less restrictive than Japan, as citizens are still allowed to gamble online, however they are not allowed to participate in any activity in land-based locations. Other countries that do not permit their inhabitants to gamble include Cambodia, North Korea, and Qatar.
5- In the 1800s, one of the most popular sports in the world was distance walking
Pedestrianism was previously the world’s most popular sport. Like many athletes today, professional walkers would regularly compete and receive healthy endorsements for their participation in such events.
These 19th century walking challenges attracted huge crowds prompting many to gamble on the outcome. Tens of thousands of spectators would watch trials such as walking 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours or walk the most laps in a 24-hour period. Events such as these would be considered sports betting.
6- Las Vegas is not the world’s gambling capital
You might be surprised to learn that Las Vegas doesn’t take the title of the world’s gambling capital; it is actually Macau! Whilst Las Vegas gets a fair amount of press, Macau’s gambling tourism makes up roughly 50% of their entire economy. Tourists frequent Las Vegas and all it has to offer but it seems that when it comes time to put down large bets, Macau is the place to be.
Macau attracts many high rollers who contribute greatly to the city’s profits. Many wealthy participants visit the private rooms to enjoy high stakes games. These exclusive gambling sessions make up over 65% of the overall yearly revenue for Macau’s earnings, helping it become the world’s gambling capital.
7- Casinos Originated in Italy
Derived from the Italian word ‘casa’ which means house, the term Casino in fact originated from Italy. The use of the word house was indicative of the feel that Italians were trying to generate through their social clubs, where games were being played.
Established gambling dates back to 1638 Venice, when locals were playing Baccarat and Bingo in these society groups. Italian gambling influence would eventually move to the rest of Europe and become the juggernaut that the casino industry is today!