85 Fun Facts And Interesting Curiosities About Gambling

By Peter Adams | 5th of July 2015
85 Fun Facts And Interesting Curiosities About Gambling

The gambling industry stretches worldwide and incorporates thousands of companies while billions of dollars exchange hands every year. It includes everything from the instant win machines to sports bars, to extravagant casinos, to online gaming options and just about everything in between.

The scale alone is enough to generate more than 50 interesting facts about gambling but we will take a look at various aspects of the industry in order to paint a full picture of its past, its present and maybe even its future, while not leaving out some amusing curiosities that can be fun to learn about.

Looking at the numbers

It is safe to say that some of the most important facts are related to the financial part of the gambling industry and the numbers can be quite impressive. Here are the top facts about gambling by the numbers:

1) The total gambling market gross win worldwide for the year 2015 is estimated to be worth 390 billion dollars, from which more than 37 billion will be won in the interactive segment. The figures have been constantly growing every year and saw an increase of more than 50% in the last decade.

2) In the period between October 2013 and September 2014, the commercial gambling industry in the UK generated a gross yield of £7.1 billion, or $11 billion, representing an increase of 5% compared to the same period in the previous year.

3) The non-remote betting options are the most popular and they represent 46% of the entire industry in the UK, with the remote sector being second on the list at 19%, followed by the casino sector with 16%.

4) 95,227 employees were working across all gambling sectors in the UK gambling industry in September 2014 and this figure continues a decline seen over the past several years, with 105,361 employees in March 2011.

5) There were 299 operators licensed in the UK to offer non-remote betting options within the market according to the figures released on 31st of March 2015. This represents a decrease of 51 operators from the same date in 2014.

6) Four operators dominate the betting industry in Great Britain and account for 86% of the betting shops in the country. These are William Hill with 2,309 shops, Ladbrokes with 2,205, Gala Coral Group with 1,838 and Betfred/Tote with 1,381 shops. Other operators in the market have a total of 1,225 betting shops available.

7) On 30 September 2014, there were 146 land-based casinos in the UK, hiring 15,211 employees.

8) 18.14 million active accounts were available at online gambling websites in the UK between October 2013 and September 2014, representing an increase of 1.15 million from the first half of the studied year.

9) £228.29 million in funds were available in UK customer accounts last year.

10) The largest progressive jackpot won from an online slot machine was worth €17,861,813 and was claimed by a player from Finland on 20 January 2013 while he was playing the Mega Fortune game.

11) Great Britain is by far the biggest online casino market in Europe and it is followed by Germany, Italy, France and Sweden.

12) 62% of players prefer to place their wagers in land-based betting shops, while 31% of the public used online betting sites.

13) Most casino players are between the ages of 25 and 64. 

14) The average amount spent on gambling per household is £166 and most participants play once a week.

15) In the UK, the government collected £2.1 billion in taxes from gaming and betting in 2012-2013. £295 million of the duties came from remote gaming and brick-and-mortar casinos.

16) The social casino segment is forecasted to reach $3.4 billion in 2015 after only being worth $2.2 billion in 2013.

17) Macau is the biggest casino market in the world and it overtook Las Vegas in 2006. The gross gambling revenue in this special administrative region belonging to China increased from $10.5 billion in 2007 to $44 billion in 2014.

18) The Las Vegas Strip is the most visited tourist attraction in the world as 39.67 million people went to the gambling city in 2014. To put this in perspective, only 7 million visited the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

19) Las Vegas Sands is the biggest casino company in the world. After it was founded in 1988, it generated almost $15 billion in revenue from casinos located in the U.S. and in Asia.

20) There are a total of 1,511 casinos located in the U.S. and they generate $65.497 billion in revenue.

Fun Facts about Online Casinos

Now that we got a good part of the numbers out of the way, it is time to look at the online casinos and what fun facts are hidden behind the websites that provide gambling options to players with just a few clicks of a mouse.

1) The first legislation to allow licensing for online casinos was Antigua and Barbuda as it passed the Free Trade & Processing act in 1994.

2) Microgaming was the first company to develop a fully functional gambling software.

3) InterCasino was the first online casino to go live and provide online gambling options. The website is still available today after going through countless updates.

4) By the end of 1996, there were a total of 15 websites that offered online casino options for real money. The number increased to 200 in 1997.

5) More than 8 million people took part in online gambling activities by 2001.

6) There are thousands of online casinos available today and more of them become available every year.

7) Most online casinos are not affiliated to betting brands or other land-based casinos. The reason for this is that most established companies saw a risk for their current business model with the rise of internet gaming but this trend seems to be changing more and more.

8) While there are local regulations and certification companies, there are no official safety standards for online casinos across the world.

9) Playing online casino games for “free” is very common among teenagers and young adults and can be exciting even without the use of real money.

10) The majority of online casino players do it in a responsible manner but it is estimated that between 1 and 2 percent of the population have problems with pathological gambling.

11) The average online casino player is male and under 34 years old. However, the number of female players accessing iGaming websites has increased significantly in recent years and about 43% of all players are women.

12) Online casinos eliminate the need to go somewhere in order to place bets. They are also never crowded and a seat is always open at any of the featured gaming options.

13) It is possible to become a millionaire while playing online progressive slots since some of them can have jackpots worth seven figures.

14) Online casinos allow real bets to be placed for free with the use of bonuses, promotions and other rewards meant to add funds to the account.

15) Most online casinos have return rates of over 90%, meaning that they only keep about 10% of the taken bets as house winnings.

Interesting Facts About Casino Games

The games are what really matter at the end of the day and there are quite a few options to enjoy while in a casino. This can mean both in the land-based establishments and when playing on the internet and the most popular casino games in the industry actually come with a variety of facts most players don’t know about.

Slot Machines

1) Slots represent most of the action for casinos and can account for almost three quarters of the income in an average establishment.

2) The first slot machine was created in 1899 by a mechanic by the name of Charles Frey who built it so that his customers will have a way to pass the time while waiting for the repairs on the cars to be complete.

3) The largest progressive jackpot from a slot machine was worth $39,713,982.25 and was won in March 2003.

4) A man held the record for the biggest slots win for 27 years with an amount of just over $65,000 in 1973. He was beaten by another player in 2000 who won a million dollars. Nowadays, prizes of over a million dollars are claimed every year.

5) Each spin of the reels in the standard slots game is independent of previous results, making it completely random every time.

6) Slot machines are also known as “one armed bandits”; a term which was actually used to describe the characters who would manipulate the early machines in order to steal money from them. As the years past and this became impossible to do, the term became used to describe the actual slots machines due to their one arm on the side, represented by the old-school lever.

7) Japan has more slots machines active than any other country in the world, with almost 4.6 million slots available. In the U.S. there are just around 752,000 slot machines and about a quarter of them are in the Las Vegas area.

8) Slot machines are known by different names in some regions: fruit machines are used in Great Britain, puggy is the Scottish slang and the term pokies is very popular in Australia and New Zealand.

9) The bets accepted by slot machines can range from just one cent (known as penny slots) to more than $500 for just one spin of the reels.

10) Minimum payout percentages can be set by local regulations for slot machines but the majority of games nowadays will pay out about 85-95% of all bets taken in the form of winnings.

Blackjack

11) Blackjack was originally called “vingt-et-un”, which translates to twenty one from French.

12) There are still arguments between Italians and French people on the matter of who actually invented the game of blackjack.

13) Blackjack is now the most popular casino banking game in the world.

14) The name “blackjack” was given to the card game in American casinos and it was based around a special feature where getting the Ace of spades and a black Jack (either of spades or of clubs) would result in a 10:1 payout. This bonus was eventually eliminated from the table but the name remained the same.

15) The classic “shoe” used for card games in casinos was first introduced in the 1950s in Cuba in order to prevent dealers from cheating and giving certain players the right cards by manipulating the deck in their hands.

16) The Blackjack Hall of Fame was established in 2002 in order to honor the best players and authors in the game. While it is held at the Barona Casino, located in San Diego, none of the members of the prestigious club are actually allowed to play here.

17) Blackjack is known for having a very low house edge that is under 1%. It is also possible to make it even smaller with optimum play and the house advantage is just 0.17% when using one deck and 0.65% when using eight decks of cards.

18) Basic strategy tables actually tell the player what move to use in each situation when playing just against the house.

19) The third best starting hand in blackjack (after 21 and 20) is actually 11 and not 19, since the odds of getting 19 or more with another card provide a better advantage than having to stay at 19 from the start.

20) Card counting in blackjack is a real thing and it is not an illegal action in most casinos, although the establishments can ask players to stop or refuse them any action from the start.

Roulette

21) Roulette is the oldest casino game in the world currently being played on a very large scale.

22) Roulette is French for “little wheel”.

23) If you add all of the numbers on the roulette wheel the total will be 666, which is commonly regarded as the number of the devil.

24) The two most popular roulette versions are American and European, with the main difference between the two being an extra green pocket for 00 on the American version. Despite the odds difference, the bets payouts are the same.

25) Blaise Pascal, famous scientist and mathematician, invented a machine similar to roulette while studying perpetual motion.

26) In the year 2012, a roulette wheel at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas had the same result for seven straight results and it was 19. The odds of this event taking place are 3 billion to 1.

27) Ashley Revell holds the record for winning the most from one spin after he placed his life savings of $135,300 on red and let the wheel spin. He won and walked away with more than $270,000.

28) 17 is the most played number in roulette. This can be due to the fact that it holds the center position on the wheel and that it is the number played by James Bond in the movies.

29) The numbers on the roulette wheel follow a set pattern that can be found in casino worldwide.

30) When Las Vegas casinos first introduced the European roulette games with only one zero, the players complained about it and believed it was unfair, forcing the casinos to return to the double-zero version that actually provides lower odds of winning for the players.

Craps

31) Early versions of craps are believed to have been invented in 1573 in Egypt.

32) The playing dice used today have their roots in tools used to predict the future by tribesmen.

33) Las Vegas casinos use more than 25,000 pairs of dice every month.

34) In the 1950s, a sailor got 27 consecutive wins while playing craps in Las Vegas. The odds of this happening are 12,467,890 to 1.

35) When the tables are crowded, it can take four members of the casino staff to properly manage one craps table.

36) There are a lot of superstitions connected to playing craps. Some of the most common are that throwing a penny under the table will bring good luck, saying the word “seven” before a throw will bring bad luck and having a woman blow on the dice will result in a successful bet.

37) Extravagant gambler Archie Karas got his name in the history books by turning $17 million into $40 million while playing craps for a few months in the mid-1990s. Some of his bets were as high as $100,000 for one roll.

38) General etiquette dictates that players should only use one hand to throw the dice and not take them past the table edge.

39) Some craps variations actually use cards rather than dice in order to go around some of the local laws regarding gambling.

40) The record for the longest craps hand saw 154 consecutive rolls, 25 of which were passes, by the same person, called Patricia DeMauro. This lasted for four hours and 18 minutes.

Other Games

41) Bingo was first established in Italy in 1530.

42) Keno has its roots in China and can be dated back to 200 BC.

43) The odds of getting a Royal Flush in poker are 649,740 to 1.

44) B-I-N-G-O can be obtained in 44 million different ways on a standard ticket with 90 numbers.

45) During the 1982 World Series of Poker Main Event, Jack “Treetop” Straus only had one chip in front of him at one point. However, he didn’t give up and not only did he manage to build a healthy stack, but actually went on to win the entire tournament; creating the now popular idea that all you need is a chip and a chair.

46) The youngest player to win the WSOP Main Event is Joe Cada, who was only 21 years and 11 months old when he got the title and more than $8.5 million.

47) Baccarat was invented during the middle-ages in Italy.

48) The term baccarat is meant to mean “nothing”, due to the fact that a good part of the cards are actually worth 0.

49) Playing cards were first introduced in the 1300s in Europe.

50) The four suits in a deck of cards represent Royalty (Spades), Merchants (Diamonds), Peasants (Clubs) and the Clergy (Hearts).