10 Interesting facts about gambling you might not have heard before
1. Nikola Tesla
World famous inventor Nikola Tesla, best known for his contributions to the design of the modern AC supply system was also a compulsive gambler. During his third year at the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Tesla blew all his tuition money and allowance while gambling. Fortunately for him, Tesla actually managed to gamble back all his losses and return the money to his family. He never received grades for the last semester of the third year, however, and while he claimed to have conquered his passion for gambling, Tesla supposedly picked up on his old habits upon his arrival in the US.
2. Point Proven?
In 2016, CNN wrote a story about a North Carolina woman who bought her husband a scratch ticket to teach him a lession, but ended up winning $1 million instead. The woman was tired of her husband wasting money on lottery tickets, and when asked to buy a Powerball ticket, she got him a $10 Carolina Millions scratch-card instead to show him they never hit. She did lose the argument but told reporters – “it was well worth it in this case.”
If not for gambling, American multinational courier FedEx might never have existed. In the company’s early days, CEO Fred Smith took the very last $5000 and went to Las Vegas and in a desperate attempt to keep the company afloat, Fred gambled all the money…only to win $27,000 on blackjack! The lucky hit was enough to cover the company’s $24k fuel bill and to keep FedEx in business.
4. Japanese Loophole
Gambling in Japan is a massive industry only made possible because of a loophole in the law. Instead of cash, so-called Pachinko balls are won from the games, and since the balls cannot be removed from the premises, players exchange them for various prizes or tokens. As a third and final step to claim their “real” winnings, the prizes are then exchanged for cash at a separate place away from the parlour.
5. Australian Syndicate
Australians lose more money to gambling per capita than any other nation in the world, but every now and then the gambler beats the house. In 1992, a gambling syndicate organised themselves to buy nearly all combinations (5 out 7 million combinations to be precise) in a Virginia lottery and won! The somewhat risky purchase of $5 million worth of lottery tickets ended up winning them a whopping $27 million.
6. Russian Hackers
In 2009, gambling was outlawed in Russia, forcing the casinos to shut down and sell their slot machines. Unfortunately, a few of them ended up in the hands of counterfeiters who used the circuit boards to learn about their vulnerabilities. In 2011, incidents of Novomatic machines paying out extraordinarily large sums was reported by casinos around Europe. Novomatic, however, could find no evidence of tampering, leading them to the conclusion that the cheaters had learned how to predict the behaviour of the slots. It’s quite a fascinating case and if you want to read more about it, you can do so here.
7. Extreme Swings
Most of us know what a rollercoaster gambling can be, but for some, the swings are more extreme than for the rest of us. In one such case, a guy named Archie Karas went to Vegas with a budget of no more than $50 and managed to win $40 million, only to blow it all within three weeks. If you want to know a bit more about Archie you can read about him and other famous high rollers here.
8. Lord Sandwich
According to written history, the modern sandwich was named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich and, although the exact circumstances of its invention is still subject to debate, it is believed that the bread and meat combo was used to sustain Lord Sandwich at the gambling table. Being an avid gambler spending long hours at the card table, John Montagu didn’t have time to eat and would consequently ask his servants to bring him slices of meat between two slices of bread.
9. Anti-Gambling Fail
In a bid to leverage the ongoing 2014 world cup fever, Singapore’s anti-gambling agency published an advert featuring a worried kid telling his buddy how his father had spent all their life savings betting on Germany to win the world cup. The effect was not what the agency had expected as Germany went on to win the tournament. The agency later tried to save face by publishing another advert, this time with the kid’s friend asking: “Your dad’s team won, did you get your savings back?” as to which the kid replies “No, dad never stops. He wants to bet one more time.” Fair enough. Gambling is heavily regulated in Singapore, but extremely popular nonetheless.
10. The Bet of All Bets
Gambling sometimes makes people do crazy stuff and this story may very well be the craziest of them all. Brian Zembic is a guy that is known to do anything to win a bet. In 1996, while participating in a high-stakes game, Zembic was challenged by one of his friends. It was agreed that Zembic would win $100,000 if he received breast implants and kept them in for a year. Zembic won the bet and still wears his 38C breasts to this day! Source.