Crazy and Unbelievable Facts About Casinos and Gambling

min read
A black and gold roulette table with playing cards.
BetMGM Jan 02, 2024, 9:22 AM

They say truth is stranger than fiction. It’s difficult to believe that the same would apply to gambling, especially with all the strange casino myths and superstitions. However, a big part of being a responsible gambler when you play online casino games is being able to separate fact from fiction and intuition from superstition. Today, we’re focusing on crazy casino facts, sharing some unbelievable gambling facts, and looking at stories from casinos of the past and present. 

A Brief History of Casino Culture

Casino culture is multifaceted. It’s the lavish decor and opulence you see in some of the fanciest casinos in Vegas and the world. You can see it in the elegance and class of the croupiers and the unwritten rules of casino etiquette. It’s about spontaneity, fulfilling your dreams, taking risks, and reaping the rewards. But it’s also about calculations, strategies, intelligence, and caution. What about the thrill of taking part in previously forbidden pleasures?

Gambling and casino culture is nothing new. The first casino was established in Venice in 1638, marking the beginning of casino culture and its evolution into what we know today. And, much like the resorts we see today, the casino wasn’t just a building with a few casino table games and money bets but originally formed part of a theatre named Theatre Saint Moses. Even the earliest casinos understood the importance of entertainment and featured dancing and musical performances. 

These casinos began the tradition of casino style and etiquette with strict dress codes and behavior rules. The first casinos only served the elite, but it wasn’t long before the gambling bug hit the rest of the community.

Casinos spread to France and the rest of the world. In places where gambling was abolished, casinos became riverboat casinos. Gambling and casino culture reached its heyday in the 19th century and paved the way for gambling cities like Monaco and Las Vegas.

Interesting Facts About Gambling and Casinos

The history, traditions, and stories of casinos are bizarre. Here are some fascinating casino fun facts you probably didn’t know.

1. A Nevada Prison Used To Have a Casino For Inmates

Gambling is such an essential part of Nevada that for 35 years, the Nevada State Prison once had a casino inside. Inmates could play casino games like poker, craps, and blackjack and even bet on sports on the prison grounds until a warden shut the casino down in 1967.

2. The World’s Smallest Casino Doesn’t Have an Address

The Grosvenor Casinos own what is believed to be the world’s smallest casino — and you won’t find it in a building. The mobile casino is in the back of a moving London cab. This tiny establishment has a gaming table with a dealer, a TV showing sports, and even a bar.

3. The Numbers on a Roulette Wheel Equal 666

You might have heard it before and chalked it up to anti-gambling propaganda, but it’s actually true. The numbers on a roulette wheel add up to the biblical “number of the beast”. This creepy coincidence led to the game being called The Devil’s Wheel. If you didn’t know how this gambling term entered our vocabulary, now you do.

4. Slot Machines Used To Be Fruity Chewing Gum Machines

Now, onto the history of slot machines. Fruit-themed games are everywhere when you play slots online, and there’s a reason. Some of the earliest slots were fruit machines, and that’s because early versions of the game in the 1900s had a fruit-flavored gum vending attachment and fruit symbols meant to show gum flavors. Today, they’re a part of casino tradition. 

5. The Biggest Casino Jackpot Win

The biggest casino jackpot ever was won by an anonymous 25-year-old man at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. After betting just $100 on a popular Megabucks slot, his wager turned into a $39.7 million jackpot prize. 

6. The Longest Poker Game Lasted 8 Years

At the Bird Cage, players paid $1,000 in advance to play a poker game that would go down in history. The poker game was played 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from 1881 to 1889 — eight years in total.

7. Vegas Casinos Capitalized on Atomic Bomb Testing

There are many intriguing casino scandals and stories, but this one is the craziest. In the 1950s, the U.S. Department of Energy began detonating thousands of test nukes 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The nukes turned night into day and left ominous mushroom clouds in the sky, visible from nearby casinos. The city’s businesses found a way to turn a dark spectacle into a marketable opportunity. They started hosting atomic bomb parties, atomic-themed beauty pageants, and offering atomic cocktails in casino bars.

8. The First Vegas Casino License Was Issued to a Woman

The world of casino entrepreneurs isn’t an all-boys club. One of the pioneers of Las Vegas was a woman called Mayme Stocker, who was the first person to be issued a casino license in the city. Stocker’s casino offered only five legal games at the time: bridge, lowball poker, stud poker, draw poker, and 500. 

9. You Can Ban Yourself From a Casino

Casino addiction is a real problem. If your gambling habit starts to become a problem, many states in the U.S. allow you to ban yourself voluntarily. This means stepping inside the casino would be a crime. The length of this ban can last a year, five years, or even a lifetime, depending on your needs. 

10. The Wild West Had Women Poker Players

Poker is still a largely male-dominated industry. However, there’s a rich history of women in gambling, and the Wild West was one of the most interesting places to produce excellent female poker players. Unlike many other places in the U.S., women were not banned from gambling in saloons in the Wild West, which led to the rise of notorious poker queens, such as Poker Alice, Lottie Deno, and more.

11. The First Slot Machine Was Not in a Casino

The very first slot machine was built by mechanic Charles Fey in 1895. The machine was not placed in a casino and was actually located in his automobile shop in San Francisco. He built it for customers to play on while waiting for their cars to be repaired. Casinos noticed their popularity and started to buy slot machines to keep customers busy while the table games were fully occupied.

12. Responsible Gambling Is a Serious Matter

It’s unbelievable that so many players ignore the importance of gambling responsibly. Teaching players about responsible gaming is a priority for BetMGM. MGM Resorts and BetMGM are both members of the American Gaming Association’s “Have A Game Plan” and “Bet Responsibly” initiatives. The company also partners with GameSense to teach strategies and tips for detecting and preventing problem gambling.

When you learn how to play casino games, it’s helpful to understand how they work. Games like online slots use random number generators to keep results random and independent. No matter what common online casino myths and superstitions you may want to believe, there are no hot or cold slots or games. Don’t believe the common myth that if you just keep playing, you will win eventually. Responsible gamblers follow fact-based strategies, use their budget to guide them, and (most importantly) know when to stop. They aren’t guided by superstitions and myths. 

Self-awareness and assessment, accountability partners, and understanding of the game are vital parts of gambling like a pro. 

Enjoy Crazy Games and Promotions With BetMGM

Now that you know the most interesting facts about casinos and gambling, you’ll be able to pass a casino trivia quiz. Another fun fact? BetMGM is the best online casino provider in the country.

Finding the biggest sportsbook, hundreds of themed slots, live dealer casino games, and lucrative promotions in one mobile-friendly platform may seem too good to be true — but it’s not. BetMGM has the best casino games from the top developers in the industry. To create an account, register, and experience unbelievable online gaming for yourself.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.