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The Weirdest Gambling Facts You Probably Never Knew

Do you like weird and unusual facts? Maybe you like playing along with game shows on TV or trivia with friends. These facts might come in handy for a gambling category.

Perhaps you just like learning about weird facts for conversation starters. Whatever the reason, there are probably weird gambling facts that you didn’t know existed.

TheSportsGeek is examining the most unusual and weirdest gambling facts of all time. This can be somewhat of a gambling history lesson, too. Some of these crazy gambling facts go back over a century.

How many weird gambling facts are you aware of already?

We all know one or two unusual gambling facts most people may not know about. This should help reinforce your list of gambling facts that are weird.

Have you personally had any weird gambling stories? It is possible that you’ve had a crazy gambling fact or two of your own. Hopefully, it involved winning a lot of money.

TheSportsGeek has shortlisted the weirdest and most unusual gambling facts ever. This is our top-10 list of gambling facts that are weird.


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Weird Gambling Facts

10. The First Ever Slot Machines Paid Out In Beer, Cigars, and Candy

The first slot machine was invented in 1891 by the New York company, Sittman and Pitt. These slots looked more like video poker machines, with five cards distributed for each bet.

Before Charles Fey invented slot machines that awarded players with money, saloons paid out in beer and cigars on the primitive Sittman and Pitt slot games.

Slot machines were popular in the late 1800s in saloons. Instead of a coin dropper that spits out coins, players had to go to the bartender to claim their prize.


The bartender would pay out the slot winnings with a beer or cigar. There are a lot of gamblers that like beer and cigars, so it wasn’t the worst reward.

Later on in the early 1900s, prohibition and anti-gambling laws put a damper on cash slot machines. Manufacturer, Industry Novelty Company, invented slots that awarded chewing gum to get around the laws in the United States.

9. A Las Vegas Gambler Went On a Year-Long Losing Streak

Weird? Going on a year-long losing streak gambling has to be considered rather unusual. In the largest recorded gambling loss of all time, businessman Terry Watanabe had no luck for a year.

He is regarded as the biggest whale and loser ever in Las Vegas history. On an unbelievable skid, Watanabe lost $127 million in gambling in just a year.

Watanabe inherited a multi-million dollar organization from his father, Harry Watanabe. Oriental Trading Company was sold by Watanabe in 2000. The company still operates as a merchant for children’s toys and party supplies in 2022.

Lured into the casinos with extravagant comps and alcohol, Watanabe lost most of his net worth in Las Vegas in 2007. In total, he is believed to have lost over $200 million from gambling in his life.

If you are interested in learning more, there is a movie reportedly being filmed about his experience as a big loser.

8. Roulette Is Known As The Devil’s Wheel

Did you know that roulette’s nickname is the Devil’s Wheel? This might be something you can share the next time you are at the roulette table.

The reason is simple. The numbers on a roulette add up to 666 on a roulette wheel. 666 is often regarded as the number of the beast, hence the Devil’s Wheel.

The only thing we found hellish about roulette is the bad player odds. American roulette has a house edge of 5.26%. This equates to some of the worst odds you can find at a table game.

7. The Biggest Losing Week For The MGM Grand Was During A Physicists Conference

The world-famous MGM Grand probably should not have hosted more than 4,000 of the most brilliant minds in the world. In April of 1986, the MGM Grand had its worst week ever with the APS in town.

The casino had its worst financial week during the physicists’ conference. It is easy to figure out why this happened. Physicists are regarded as experts in mathematics.

We often refer to gambling as a game of math and odds. The physicists refused to play casino games with bad odds.

The majority of the hotel was booked with masters in probability. Getting them on a slot machine was not going to happen.

6. A Man Stole $500,000 From The Stardust and Disappeared

Do you know where Bill Brennan is at? Is he even alive? If you have any information, the authorities would like to talk.


The former sportsbook tellar at the legendary Stardust walked out of the casino with just over $500,000 in cash and chips. Since leaving work in 1992, Brennan has never been seen again.

Not even the security cameras were able to pick up Brennan from leaving the casino. It is worth noting that the Stardust had mob ties.

Could it be that Brennan’s remains are in a hole somewhere in the desert? In any case, no one knows about his whereabouts. Brennan just vanished.

He would have needed somebody else to cash the chips in. If Brennan did successfully pull the heist off without ending up dead, somebody else or a team had to be involved. This would be impossible to pull off today with modern casino chips.

5. Slot Machines Are Not Completely Safe From Hackers

Casinos spend millions every year on security measures. However, this does not mean that everything is bulletproof. Russian hackers proved that modern slot machines are still vulnerable.

According to Wired, a team of Russian hackers based out of St. Petersburg went to the United States in 2014. This isn’t some amateur operation, either. The hackers were part of a criminal organization in St. Petersburg.

For the scam to work correctly, they needed a team in St. Petersburg and a member of the team on a slot machine in the US. The criminal in the casino would hold a cell phone close to the slot machine screen.

This image would be relayed back to the team in Russia, who were able to pinpoint the right time to press the spin button. They would buzz back to the slot player to bet.

Within 0.25 seconds of being buzzed, the player on the slot had to press the button to spin the reels. They’d win $1,000 here and there, and move on before getting caught.

The hackers were able to read the patterns of the machine and determine the right time to beat the RNG. Because the RNG is programmed by a human, it isn’t a completely random event.

Years later and slot machine security specialists are still trying to learn how the hackers are doing it. Their best prevention from this loophole at the moment is being aware of suspicious behavior on slots.

4. Napoleon Was An Avid Blackjack Player

French Emperor, Napolean Bonaparte, was a big fan of the gambling game known as Vingt-et-Un (21). Blackjack was popularized in France in the 18th century.

Napoleon would regularly play the game after battles for entertainment. He would sit and gamble for hours on end to relax.

This was seen as weird to most casual observers back then. The gambling game known as blackjack today ultimately arrived in North America with French colonists.

3. Self-Exclusion Will Result In Voided Jackpots

So, you banned yourself from the casino because you have a gambling problem. Years later you go back to the casino, win a huge jackpot, and look to collect the winnings. Tough luck.

Casinos will not pay out jackpots or hand pays to a player that self-banned themselves from gambling. The prize will be forfeited and the player will be asked to leave the casino.

Since it is illegal to be gambling at the property after a self-exclusion, the casino could even get the authorities involved. Ouch.

2. Card Counting Is Not Illegal

This is one of those gambling facts that casinos want you to believe is true. There are some cases if a casino catches a card counter, they will threaten to get the police involved.


It is either a poorly informed employee or they are trying to scare you. Cheating at blackjack with an instrument or device is illegal. However, using your head to win at gambling is not illegal.

This is only a weird gambling fact if you go to the blackjack tables uninformed, but it is important to know. Most people believe that it is illegal. That said, casinos are allowed to write their own rules.

Casinos have every right to suspend or ban you from their property for card counting. Hitting and running quickly is the only way to win as a card counter

1. Ashley Revell Bet Everything On One Bet

You might have heard of this story, but didn’t know if it were true or not. It really happened at the Plaza Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Ashley Revell sold all of his possessions, including his car and clothes, to bet on one bet of roulette in 2004.

The native of the UK flew to Las Vegas with $135,300 in American dollars. He placed his entire life on one spin of the roulette wheel. Revell decided at the last second to place all of his chips on red.

The ball bounced around the roulette drum and settled on red. Revell instantly doubled up and the rest is history. He used the money to open the poker site Poker UTD, and has had success with multiple business ventures since then.


Weird gambling facts are often the most interesting. There are many more to come in the future for us to track. Maybe you will be involved in a future installment of crazy gambling facts.

There are many more weird gambling stories and facts that have yet to be discovered. If you want to make your own gambling story online, check out our best gambling online page for more information.

Author: Russell Perry