The discovery of ancient dice made from animal bones birthed theories that gambling may be much older than we think. We may never fully understand the origins of games of chance, but what is known about gaming and casinos is compelling.
Cabaret Club brings you four amazing facts that are sure to deepen your appreciation of your favourite pastime.
Casino Capitals of the World
Gambling is legal in many parts of the world, but only a few places are regarded as the world’s casino capitals. Las Vegas, Monte Carlo and Macau are undoubtedly the most pre-eminent of them all.
Also known as Sin City, Las Vegas is the undisputed gambling hub of the USA. 1931 was the year that changed the city’s fortunes, as it was then that the state of Nevada legalised gambling.
The city’s many casinos and resorts attract millions of players and see billions of dollars bet annually.
Monte Carlo, an administrative area in the tiny Mediterranean principality of Monaco, is home to the legendary Monte Carlo Casino. Off limits to locals, the casino’s clientele is all foreign.
It produces so much revenue for the principality that, in the 19th century, the then-ruling Grimaldi family did away with personal income tax laws for the principality’s residents.
An autonomous territory on China’s Pearl River Delta, Macau is the biggest gaming centre. Gambling has played a key role in the territory’s economy since 1962, when Macau was still a Portuguese colony, and Stanley Ho was awarded a monopoly casino licence that was valid until 2002.
A Casino By Any Other Name
Casinos only began to be referred to as such in the 1800s, although they had existed long before then. There is ample evidence that the ancient Greeks and Romans played games of chance in gambling houses, as did players during the time of Queen Elizabeth I.
While the first example of a dedicated gambling house was built in Venice in 1638, it would be another two centuries before the name Casino was applied to such establishments. The name derives from the Italian word Casa, which meant a social club, a small villa, or a summer house, which was often used for more than just gambling.
That first Venetian casino was known as Il Ridotto, or the Private Room. Players had to wear masks and three-cornered hats when playing its games. Among the games were basetta and biribi.
Gambling Can Be Addictive
Ludomania is a fancy word that means problem or compulsive gambling. It is, unfortunately, a real problem for many players around the world.
In Europe, the number of players facing it varies from country to country. In some places, it is as low as 0.5 per cent of players, while in others, that figure rises to three per cent of players.
Mathematics in Casinos
Mathematics is inseparable from the world of casinos and games of chance. Three great examples of this are Blaise Pascal, Joseph Jagger, and the MIT Blackjack Team.
Blaise Pascal was a scientist who lived in 17th century France. Possibly best known for inventing one of the early prototypes of the calculator, Pascal is also credited with inventing roulette in his quest to develop a perpetual motion machine.
Joseph Jagger made one of history’s first huge roulette wins in 1875, after employing six clerks to analyse the wheels at the Beaux Arts Casino. Jagger won 14 000 pounds.
The MIT Blackjack Team became so famous by counting cards and landing incredible wins, they inspired the film 21. Initially made up of students and former students of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, and other institutions, it operated from 1979 until the early 21st century.
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