10 Interesting Facts About Casinos

Although our fair isle houses six wonderful casinos, strangely, New Zealand is not considered to be a hub for high-roller players, although foreign VIP high-rollers have significantly increased profits for the major casinos over the last few years.

In fact, casinos are much more interesting places than just their visitors or games would have you believe. Here are just a few strange facts about casinos that you may find a little unexpected.

1. The First Pokies Were Found in an Auto Shop

The first pokies weren’t designed for people to gamble on – they were time wasters. Built by Charles Fey, a San Francisco-based car mechanic, who put them in his shop to keep his customers occupied while they waited for their cars to be ready. Casinos decided this was a good idea and bought them so that players who were waiting for a spot at a table game would have something to do, and so that wives and girlfriends could wait for their men and have fun at the same time. Needless to say, Pokies are now the most popular game in any casino.

2. Casinos Can Chuck You Out for Card Counting – Even Though it’s Legal

You probably think that card counting in Blackjack is illegal, especially after actor Ben Affleck was banned from a Las Vegas casino in 2014 for doing just that. But, it’s actually not ( not in New Zealand, anyway) – casinos just plain don’t like it. If you’re caught counting cards, you’re likely to be asked to leave and receive a lifetime ban – as in, for forever.

3. Nevada State Prison Had its Own Casino

Everyone knows that gambling is a big deal in Nevada, but did you know that prison inmates had their own casino from 1932 to 1967? As you might expect from the state housing Sin City, inmates could play Blackjack, poker, craps and even place sports bets until it was shut down after 35 years.

4. A Casino Operates in the Back of a London Cab

The smallest casino in the world opened in 2016 in the back of a London cab. This nameless casino has no fixed address, and (unsurprisingly) travels around the city. Players can go anywhere within London, provided they make a charitable donation. While they’re at it, they can enjoy a gaming table with a dealer, online gaming facilities, TVs screening sports games and a bar.

5. Roulette is Known as the Devil’s Game

All the numbers on a roulette wheel add up to 666 which, as Iron Maiden fans know – is known as the ‘Number of the Beast’ and is likely responsible for Roulette’s nickname: ‘The Devil’s Wheel’. However, some people choose to look at this in a different way, believing there’s a strategy to be had by using the 666 to help improve their odds – by placing bets on pretty much all the numbers.

6. English Casinos Hired Professional Dice Swallowers

In 18th century in England, casinos (otherwise known as ‘houses of sin’) were subjected to regular police raids. To keep the dice away from the eyes of the police and to help hide their illicit activities, the casinos hired professionals to swallow the dice in case the police appeared.

7. Casanova Built the First Casino

If you think a casino is a place for romance, there might be some truth to it. Casanova built the first casino in Venice, Italy in 1638 as a place for some summer activities. Clearly, his idea caught on – and how!


8.  Citizens of Monaco Can’t Gamble in their Famous Casino

Surprisingly, it has been illegal for citizens of Monaco to gamble in the famous Monte Carlo Casino. In the mid-1800s, Princess Caroline decreed that all revenue from the casino must come from foreigners. However it’s not all bad – citizens can enter the casino, just not the gaming areas.

9.  The Casino Industry Works to Keep Lottery Banned in Nevada

The gambling capital of the world doesn’t have a state lottery. This is because the casino industry has lobbied hard to keep it outlawed so there is no competition to the state’s main industry.

10.  The Sandwich Was Invented by a Gambler

In fact, this might just be an old wives tale, but it’s believed that sandwiches are named after John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich. As he was engrossed in a casino game, rumors have it he told his servants to bring him some meat in bread so he wouldn’t have to stop playing while eating his meal. We bet the dealers didn’t appreciate crumbs on the playing tables.