The Weirdest Casino Games in the World

min read
Types of casino equipment on a green background.
BetMGM Jan 27, 2024, 5:38 PM

Over the centuries, gamblers have devised new and innovative ways to bet, but the games they’ve developed have sometimes been slightly different from many traditional gambling experiences. However, this hasn’t stopped the best online casinos from adding these games of chance to their libraries, as they are always looking for new and exciting ways to entertain their patrons. At times, casinos themselves have even invented offline and online casino games that are a little out of the ordinary to try to capture the attention of gambling fans. 

While these games may not be casino games that can help improve your brain, there’s no doubt that they’ll get you thinking. And that they can be an amusing alternative if you want to switch things up or are just looking for a laugh. Read on to discover eight of the weirdest casino games worldwide. 

1. Dreidel – Global

A Dreidel in hand with the "shin" character facing out before being spun

To some, dreidel is synonymous with the Jewish community during Hanukkah. It’s a traditional gambling game that can be likened to a casino dice game, with a four-sided spinning top — the dreidel. Players will wager on the outcome using a variety of coins, raisins, matchsticks, and other forms of bets. However, at a casino, this game is played with real cash.

Learning how to play dreidel is pretty simple. To begin, you will place your wagers into a betting pot in the center of a table. Players take turns to spin the dreidel once and, depending on which side it lands, win all or some of the pieces from the pot. Each side of the dreidel has a Hebrew letter bearing one of the following meanings:

  • Nun: This translates to “nothing,” therefore the player wins nothing.
  • Gimel: This means “everything,” so the player takes everything in the pot.
  • Hey: This means “half,” and will see the player scooping half of the pot.
  • Shin: This translates to “put in,” which means the player needs to make an additional bet to bolster the pot.

The game ends when the pot’s been won, then the next betting round will begin.

Fun Fact

In recent years, dreidel has become a competitive sport. Major League dreidel tournaments are hosted in New York each year, and the longest-lasting continuous spin scores the title of Champion.

2. Rodent Roulette – Global

Rodent roulette is a bizarre twist on the classic casino table game. Also known as rat race roulette or mouse roulette, the game is played using a rat, mouse, or gerbil placed on an adapted roulette wheel with a number of holes to hide in. If you wager on the hole or pocket the animal chooses, you get an instant payout.

Over the past few decades, this casino game has sparked a lot of controversy about animal cruelty and exploitation. Some activists thought the game took things too far and staged protests at casinos and places where it was hosted, leading to its declining popularity. However, it’s still played from time to time in Alaska as a carnival game. 

Fun Fact

In 1946, Logan Champ and Vivian Gorman were arrested for running rodent roulette in southern California. They had, in their defense, been paying out coffee, canned goods, and ham as prizes. After pleading guilty, they were fined $100 (the equivalent of around $1,200 today.) In the same year and the same region, another fellow, Harry Woodling, was also busted for hosting the gambling game. Unlike the others, however, it was found that his games had been rigged. He’d put cheese inside the low-paying holes before games to encourage the animals to go a certain way.

3. War – Global

Ace Of Spades playing card and stack of antique poker game cards on wooden table

War is one of the easiest games to learn, which is why it’s one of the most popular casino games to play, including other card games like online poker and blackjack. You may already be familiar with this card game from childhood, as many people played it for fun with their siblings and friends.

Today, Casino War can be found at almost every brick-and-mortar casino and online for those who wish to spark their nostalgia. The objective of Casino War is to be dealt a higher card than the dealer. The game is played with a standard 52-card deck, allowing up to eight players. It features an optional tie bet, determining who wins when the player and the dealer have a card of the same rank. 

This game carries a different house edge when compared to typical games. This is because it pays back half your wager if you decide to surrender, but you can only do this when you have a card of matching value. Alternatively, you can “go to war” and see how it goes from there, but you must double your wager to do this.

Multiple variations of casino war are played using slightly different rules (and some exceptions) to make it more fun and challenging, so keep an eye out for this when you play at a casino online or in person.

Fun Fact

The German variant of this game, Tod und Leben, translates to “life and death” and features only 32 cards.

4. Tic-Tac-Toe Chicken – Atlantic City, New Jersey

There are many games that you can play at an online casino for real money, but this is one of the rare titles that you won’t find online. If you visit Atlantic City, the popular game of noughts and crosses is played against an unusual opponent — a chicken named Ginger. Yes, you get to play tic-tac-toe with a real chicken in a casino, and if successful, you could walk away as the reigning champion with a hefty cash prize of $10,000. The money does not come easy, though, because this clever fowl does not cluck about. In fact, she’s so far defeated everyone in her path, having been on show in a couple of U.S. casinos. The game is also popularly known as the “Chicken Challenge.” 

Do you think you have what it takes to beat this chicken? Then, put Atlantic City on your list when you plan your trip to the world’s top casino cities.

Fun Fact

Atlantic City isn’t the only place you may stumble into a tic-tac-toe-playing chicken. There also happened to be a rather infamous chicken with a knack for tic-tac-toe in a Chinatown store in New York for many years. As it turned out, the chicken was trained to peck at a spot of light, which the store owner would shine on the board while hiding in the background. Either way, it’s still probably worth the laughs to let the chicken take the win.

5. Birdsong – Belgium

Birdsong, also known as vinkensport, is a game that has Belgians going crazy. The objective of the game is wagering on which bird will sing the most often in an hour. At times, punters can place a bet on which one will last the longest. The birds are placed in different cages and sing to let the other birds nearby know that they’re looking for a mate or that this is their territory. Gamblers are given an opportunity to study the birds before putting their money on them to decide which one’s worth the buck. Thereafter, you’ll need to wait patiently to see if you’ve won. Remember, they say it’s not over until the fat bird has sung (or something like that).

This type of game is not only rewarding but is also fascinating to watch. However, just like rodent roulette, the game has received opposition from animal welfare activists. 

Fun Fact

Birdsong isn’t the only thing Belgium is famous for — there’s Belgian chocolate, too, plus waffles and beer, with Trappist monks brewing top-quality ales since the Middle Ages. There’s also the rather unique but strangely scrumptious “moules et frites” (or mussels and fries) and, of course, the Manneken Pis — a fountain sculpture of a young man relieving himself in public.

6. Fan-Tan – China

Asia is home to many exciting casino games. Sic bo is a perfect example and is now widely popular and accessible almost everywhere. However, it’s also where you’ll find some strange gambling games like fan-tan, a traditional Chinese casino game. It’s played on a flat surface with a cup and handfuls of objects, including plastic beads. Back in the day, in notorious gambling dens, Chinese people used to play with beads made from either bone or ivory. The game was very popular around the globe in the 19th century and was played using simple items like coins and beans.

Fan-tan has very simple gameplay. The objective is to choose how many beads remain after the dealer has removed groups of four beads at a time. Players can choose a number between one and four. 

To begin, the dealer (called Tan Kun) will make an announcement, and players will place wagers on any of the four numbers on the table or by selecting a combination. The dealer will then grab a large cup, called a tan, to cover a random number of beads before the remaining ones are removed. Thereafter, the cup will be removed. The dealer will then separate the beads into multiple groups of four using a special stick. The remaining number of beads will be the winning value.

Fun Fact

This game dates back more than 1,500 years.

7. Pachinko – Japan

Pachinko game center with rows of people playing

Pachinko is a popular Japanese game of chance that is often based on popular video games or anime series. It‘s often mistaken for a vertical pinball machine due to how it works, with various pins, blockers, and cups scattered across a vertical playing field in the machine. The aim of the game is to shoot small metal balls into the designated holes to trigger a payout of more steel balls. However, it’s difficult to do, and some balls will disappear if they drop to the bottom of the playing field.

The balls that the player collects are exchanged for goods at the gift shop or for other rewards at the parlors where the game is played. 

Fun Fact

According to a 2018 article by Business Insider, approximately 17.1 million pachinko players in Japan wager a massive $200 billion on the game every year. This means that pachinko earns more than the annual gambling revenue of the whole of Nevada, including Las Vegas, which is worth less than 10% of that, according to the Forbes article “Nevada Set A Gaming Revenue Record In 2022 With $14.8 Billion.” 

8. Hoffmania

Both land-based and online slot machines allow players the chance to escape into a world of their choice. From ancient lands to scrumptious food-filled reels, everybody’s favorite movies and game shows, and “Aww”-inspiring animal-themed games, slots combine entertaining and inspiring themes with easy gameplay and the chance at a life-changing win. 

For some people, spinning the reels with their favorite celebrity is exactly what they’re looking for, which is why Novomatic created the David Hasselhoff-inspired slot, Hoffmania. While fans of “Baywatch” and David Hasselhoff’s music are bound to have a great time spinning the reels of this unique slot game, others may prefer to spin the reels of other exciting slots. Whatever you prefer to play, Hoffmania is one of the more distinct and retro casino games you’ll find online.

Fun Fact

It seems movies and slots aren’t the only places David Hasselhoff has been sharing his dazzling smile. “The Hoff,” as he is affectionately known, seems to be a man of many talents. Not only is Hasselhoff a Guinness World Record holder for being the most-watched man on TV, but he’s also a passionate musician, having released 15 studio albums, with songs including “Flying on the Wings of Tenderness,” “Dammit I Love You,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Unfortunately, Hoffmania doesn’t include any of these tracks.

Discover the Best Casino Games To Play at BetMGM

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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.