Casinos and casino games have kept us humans entertained for centuries. From the flashy gaming hubs of the Vegas strip to the architectural wonders of Macau, over to Western Europe’s stately palace-like casinos, people from all walks of life are drawn to their halls to play or watch games like blackjack, roulette, and the old’ one-arm bandit.
In their online incarnation, casinos have also become part of daily modern life and are quickly catching up with online video games as one of the most popular segments in the global gaming market.
Having been immortalized in movies and television shows, casinos have kept us fascinated for as long as we’ve been able to play in them. But did you know that the world’s largest casino is bigger than some countries? Or how many years the longest-recorded poker game ran for? Here are 6 incredible facts about casinos:
- The $2 million bet
In September 1980, a man walked into a casino in Vegas with two suitcases, one filled with cash and the other empty… It reads like a movie script, but that’s exactly what real-life casino gamer William Lee Bergstrom did when he made what is possibly the largest ever successful bet in history.
Bergstrom placed a $777,000 cash bet (equating to $2.41 million in the present day) on a single game of craps at the Binion’s Horseshoe in Sin City. Incredibly, he won and left the casino with both suitcases busting at the seams.
2.The 8-year poker game
Ask any poker player and they’ll tell you that along with discipline, strategy and skill, succeeding at the game requires a lot of stamina and patience. Nowadays, high-level tournaments can last for days or even months, but that’s nothing compared to what a group of 19th-century poker players once endured in Arizona.
Legend has it that the game commenced in 1881 and lasted for a total of 8 years, 5 months and 3 days. Of course, there’s no hard evidence to confirm whether the game happened in the way it’s been remembered, but it’s even been said that a total of $10,000,000 changed hands during the marathon game.
- The casino that could fit a country in its walls
Being the land of opportunity, the US has some pretty huge casinos within its shores. The largest US casino on record is the WinStar in Oklahoma City, which spans 600,000 feet. But that’s nothing compared to the largest casino in the world, The Venetian Macau.
Taking up a mammoth 10.5 million square feet, it features over 3,000 slot machines, 800 gaming tables, a sports arena, luxury hotel and a spa…and it could even encompass the Vatican city two and a half times over.
In sharp contrast, the smallest casino in the world can fit inside a mini-mart. Measuring just 15 feet x 40 feet, the Slots-A-Fun Casino is located in Palomar Mountain.
- Slot machines are no joke
Walk into any casino in the world, and you’ll probably find the slot machines are the most popular games on site. They appeal to all sorts of casino goers, from tourists stopping by who want an authentic experience, to more dedicated gamers. Every now and again, they can also deliver life-changing prizes.
In 2003, a slot machine at the Excalibur Casino in Las Vegas set a new world record when it returned winnings of $39.7 million on a $100 wager. 17 years later, this staggering prize has yet to be beaten, even in the gaming capital of the US.
- Blackjack is almost 500 years old
Nowadays, the game of blackjack is a staple in the casino, whether online or offline. Countless gamers across the world choose an online blackjack variant to play in the UK when they log in to their virtual casino accounts, and if you were to walk into any brick and mortar casino you’d likely find their blackjack tables full of customers. The game itself, however, is reported to be over 400 years old.
The blackjack we know today has its roots in a Spanish game called Veintiuna (twenty-one), the first recorded mention of which was in a short novella written by Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote. Some historians have even suggested that the game may have been played much earlier, since the classic four-suit French deck first started to evolve in the mid-1300s.
- Card counting isn’t cheating
Speaking of blackjack, despite its portrayal in movies like 21, card counting in the casino isn’t actually illegal. The practice of card counting is, in essence, a system of keeping track of the ratio of low to high cards – it’s all pure brainwork. As such, there’s no law that prevents players from using it as a playing strategy. However, casinos can (and will) ask players to leave the tables if they think they’re gaining an edge or winning too much.