Want to find out some amazing gambling facts? We’ve put together interesting facts about slot machines, cards games, and more. So whether you love the sudden joy of hitting the jackpot on a slot machine or the instant thrill of beating the dealer in blackjack, take a look at some of your favorite games and the stories behind them. You won’t believe some of these fun facts about gambling.

Gambling Fact #1

early gambling machines

Early versions of the slot machine rewarded prizes like cigars and beer because they did not have a direct payout mechanism.

Prior to the invention of the first slot machine in the 19th century, gambling machines appeared throughout bars and pubs. Early versions contained drums holding a total of fifty card faces based on poker. Since the early machines did not have any direct payout mechanism, a bartender would reward winning players with prizes like cigars and beer.

Gambling Fact #2

craps games

Gamblers playing underground craps games would swallow the dice to avoid getting arrested.

Ever heard of the phrase “no dice”? Well, this English expression actually comes from the early 20th century in the United States. Back then, gambling remained illegal in many states, and craps players would take their games underground to hide from police. In the event of a police raid, gamblers would often swallow the dice to hide any evidence and avoid arrest. The courts couldn’t convict anyone without actual proof of gambling, in this case in the form of dice. It is likely, therefore, that the “no dice – no conviction” ruling provides the source of this commonly known phrase in English.

Gambling Fact #3

666 roulette devils game

Roulette received the nickname the Devil’s Game because the sum of the numbers on a roulette wheel adds up to 666.

In the 1860s, the prominent Blanc family established a gambling mecca for European elite at the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco where roulette became the most popular game. According to legend, the casino’s operator, François Blanc aka “The Magician of Monte Carlo” made a deal with the devil to obtain the secrets of roulette. It is said that, for this reason, the sum of all numbers on the roulette wheel (1 to 36) adds up to 666, the Number of the Beast. It therefore, has received the nickname of The Devil’s Game.

Looking for more interesting facts about gambling? Check out our Top 30 interesting facts about gambling info-graphic 

Gambling Fact #4

keno ancient china

Considered the oldest game in the casino, Keno was first invented in Ancient China over 2,000 years ago to provide money for weapons and supplies for war.

Considered the oldest game found at any casino, Keno dates back over 2,000 years in Ancient China. Written records indicate that during the Han Dynasty between 205 and 187 B.C, the war torn region strained under heavy financial burden to fund the armies. Eventually villagers refused to pay for supplies and weapons. As a result, a man named Cheung Leung invented Keno which ended up raising a lot of money.

Surprisingly, the game has changed very little since that time. The original version that Cheung invented looked similar to today's Keno in that it had 80 choices to pick. While today, we choose from 80 numbers, back then they picked from 80 Chinese characters based on popular poem called the 1,000 Characters poem by Zhou Xingsi. The game was sometimes referred to as the White Pigeon Game, because carrier pigeons would send results from village to village, since roads at the time were scarce or poorly routed.

Gambling Fact #5

french playing cards

The four suits in playing cards represent classes in French society. Spades are royalty, hearts are clergy, diamonds are merchants, and clubs are peasants.

While playing cards had existed for centuries prior, history credits the French for devising the four suits and design seen in modern playing cards. The four suits in playing cards reflect different classes in French society. The clubs represent the peasantry and achievement through hard labor while the diamonds refer to the merchant class and striving toward the creation of wealth. The hearts stands for the clergy and their goal toward inner peace with God. The spades, formerly the French piqué or pike, reflect royalty and the long pointed weapons used to keep order within a factitious society.

Want more historical facts about gambling and playing cards? Learn more in The History of Playing Cards.

Gambling Fact #6

liberty bell slot

The slot machine, called the Liberty Bell, was invented by a mechanic to help entertain his customers while waiting for car repairs.

The first true slot machine was invented by a car mechanic named Charles Fey in 1887. Fey noticed that his customers got very bored while waiting for him to finish vehicle repairs. Fey invented a machine with three spinning reels containing five symbols; horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts, and a Liberty Bell, which also gave the machine its name. By reducing the symbols from fifty cards to five symbols, Fey simplified the machine enough to allow an automatic payout system. In his Liberty Bell slot machine, three bells in a row produced the biggest payoff, ten nickels (50¢).

Gambling Fact #7

napoleon bonaparte blackjack

Napoleon Bonaparte loved playing blackjack.

The game of blackjack originates from the French card game “Vingt-et-Un”, meaning 21. The card game must have been pretty popular in France as many sources indicate that Napoleon Bonaparte himself loved playing it. He played blackjack regularly, particularly after his exile to the island of Elba, where the former French Emperor would pass the time by playing the game for hours. Of course it was simply called 21 back then as the name blackjack is an invention of the early 20th century.

Gambling Fact #8

slot machine fruit

Typical slot machine symbols like lemons and cherries came about to disguise slots as candy dispensers when gambling was illegal.

The fruit symbols like cherries, melons, and lemons commonly seen on slot machines today come from early versions of the game. Shortly after the time of its invention in 1887, the slot machine became illegal in many places. The Bell-Fruit Gum Company began manufacturing a slot machine with disguised as candy or gum dispensers to appear legal, but most owners would simply exchange these trinkets for cash to encourage gambling. As a result, modern slots still contain the same fruit symbols and the BAR symbol, which stood for the Bell-Fruit Gum Company’s early logo.

Have a gambling fact that you'd like to add? Post more facts about gambling below in our comments section.