5 Crazy Things You Didn’t Know About Gambling

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Gambling can be a lot of fun, but did you know that it also has a rich history, especially in the United States? Gambling is a fascinating industry that is always changing and has even drastically changed some people’s lives! Here are five crazy things you didn’t know about gambling.

Inmates in Nevada State Prison Once Had Their Own Casino

From 1932 all the way to 1967, inmates in the Nevada State Prison could actually gamble in an area they called the “Bullpen.” Inmates could visit a stone building and play poker, blackjack, and craps at their leisure. Finally a new warden shut down the practice calling it a “disgrace.”

FedEx Founder Saved the Company by Gambling

In 1973, Frederick Smith, founder of FedEx, was facing the fact that his company was down to its last $5,000 and he was probably going to have to close it down. That’s when he made the bold decision to fly to Las Vegas and gamble on big winnings to save his company. Can you believe the plan worked? He won $27,000 in blackjack and saved his company. In 1976 he was able to raise $11 million, and the rest of the story is history.

Card Counting Is Perfectly Legal

“Card counting” is perfectly legal, but highly frowned upon in the gambling industry. Card counting is a strategy used mostly in Blackjack that involves keeping careful track of the cards so that the player can estimate whether the next hand will be in their favor. Although card counting is legal, casinos don’t appreciate it and may ask you to stop or even remove you from the grounds. Usually casinos discourage card counting by often modifying the rules of the game or the number of decks included.

A World War II Vet Won Over $21 Million Playing the Slots

Every once in a while someone wins really big at playing the slots, and Elmer Sherman, a World War II veteran, was one of those people. Sometimes slots pay off the most–just ask Elmer. He first won $4.6 million in 1989 playing at the Mirage. Elmer didn’t stop there though. He won another whopping $21.1 million in 2005 playing at the Cannery, fulfilling his lifelong dream to “win the really big one.”

The First Casino in Las Vegas Belonged to a Woman

It’s incredible to think that the very first casino gaming license was issued to Mayme Stocker, a not-so-famous pioneer of Las Vegas in 1920. She named her place the Northern Club, and although she was a wife and mother, she owned and operated the place alone. Her husband wanted nothing to do with it, at least in the early years. For over a decade, the Northern Club offered bridge and poker to guests hoping to win it big.

Who knew that gambling had such an intriguing past? From wild robberies, to massive wins, to mysterious deaths, there is never a dull moment in the casino industry, especially in Las Vegas. When was the last time you visited Vegas?

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