5 Weird and Wacky Mines Games Bonus Gambling Facts
Few hobbies are more interesting than gambling. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more colorful group of people than some of the famous gamblers who have been featured on our site, too.
The purpose of this post is to expose you to some of the weird and wacky gambling facts you might never have heard before. Most of these take the form of stories and anecdotes that involve various gambling episodes.
Here are 4 weird and wacky gambling facts.
1. Inmates Could Gamble at a Prison-Run Casino
You’ll see plenty of stories about how well some prisoners get treated when they’re “inside.” You’ll also find plenty of tales about how poorly they’re treated. This anecdote relates more to the former proposition.
In 1932, the Nevada State Prison launched a Vegas-style casino inside the facility. Most prisons at least claim to make vices like alcohol and gambling forbidden, which makes this casino even more unusual. This wasn’t a short-term experiment, either—the casino in the prison was in continuous operation for 35 years (until 1967). The inmates even ran the operation themselves.
Was this casino legal?
Strictly speaking, it wasn’t. The Nevada State Prison never applied for or obtained a license to operate a gambling house. The authorities just looked the other way. Chances are that they would have been denied any license they applied for, though. After all, the dealers in the casino were all inmates in a prison. There’s no way any of them could have passed any kind of background check.
You’d think a casino managed by prison inmates might be rife with cheaters, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, the inmates were afraid the warden might shut down the casino. As a result, the self-policed casino was probably as safe and fair as any casino on the outside.
The casino offered traditional casino games like blackjack and craps. They also had a poker room and a bookmaking operation so they could bet on sports. A percentage of the casino’s profits were deposited in the inmate welfare fund, too.
Most of the wardens thought that the casino gambling was good for morale, or at least a harmless distraction.
But in 1967, the state legislature introduced legislation to outlaw gambling in state prisons. The bill wasn’t passed, but the State Prison Board still closed down the casino. They even demolished the building where the casino had been located.
2. Smallest Casino in the World
Most people who have done some reading or writing about casino gambling know at least some of the world’s largest casinos by name. In the United States, we have some behemoths of gambling halls, like Foxwoods in Connecticut or the Winstar in Oklahoma.
But did you know that one casino brags about being the smallest casino in the world?
It’s so small, in fact, that it’s not even located in a free-standing building. It’s in the back of a taxi cab. It features a table where you can play casino games, a dealer to run the games, a bar, and access to an internet-based casino.
While you play blackjack and enjoy the beverages from the bar, you can also enjoy watching sporting events on the casino’s television.
This “casino-on-wheels” is the brainchild of the Grosvenor Casino in Birmingham.
Best of all, rides in this taxi are complementary. The money lost at the blackjack tables or in the online casino games is donated to charity. The entire thing is a publicity stunt from the Grosvenor Casino.
The second-smallest casino in the world used to be a slots arcade that had 30 gambling machines in 600 square feet of space. It was located in North County, San Diego, and it was part of a convenience store close to Palomar Mountain. This tiny casino was owned and operated by the La Jolla Indian tribe, who spent half a million dollars setting it up.
The tribe has gone on to open a larger, more traditional casino.
3. Gambling Addicts Wear Adult Diapers
I’ve written before about the addictive nature of gambling machines, especially slot machines. Most people can’t imagine how insidious the urge to gamble can become for someone with impulse control problems. I can’t imagine a more illustrative example than the surprisingly large number of slot machine gamblers who wear adult diapers to the casino so that they don’t have to step away from the games.
This isn’t a new story, either. Professor Tim Pelton conducted a study on compulsive gambling when he was with the University of Victoria’s Centres for Addiction Research in 2007. As part of the study, his team conducted extensive interviews with people who worked in the casinos.
Multiple employees at the casinos talked about slot machine zombies who were wearing adult diapers so that they wouldn’t have to step away from the slot machines to use the restroom.
At one time, an adult diaper company was marketing their products directly to gambling addicts. The product, which no longer seems to be available, was called Adult Incontinence Reusable Cloth Diapers. And they featured the following quote in their advertisements:
“perfect for…Gamblers all night in the casino.”
What’s more disturbing about this trend is its focus on the elderly. These companies aren’t just marketing to young people who want to stay seated at the slot machines. They’re specifically targeting an older generation of gamblers who are arguably more susceptible to gambling addiction in the first place.
4. Ben Affleck Banned for Life from the Hard Rock Casino
Counting cards isn’t illegal, but casinos are well known for barring skilled blackjack players from playing their blackjack games. If they catch you multiple times, or if the manager’s a real hard case, they might ban you from their casino for the rest of your life. You can even be arrested for trespassing at a casino that’s banned you.
Ben Affleck probably already knew this was a possibility before the Hard Rock Casino banned him from their blackjack games for life. At least he didn’t get banned from the casino altogether.
This is old news now. Affleck visited the Hard Rock in 2014 with his wife, Jennifer Garner. They wanted to relax before he began shooting Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Ben Affleck’s no dummy, though—he might not have had consistently good grades, but he did achieve an almost perfect score on his SAT tests.
He put his wits to work at the blackjack table, and apparently he’s really good at that, too.
Of course, casino management gets more worried about players like Affleck who are playing at the high rollers tables. The casino stands to lose more money there than at the low. stakes tables.
Affleck is allowed to play any of the other games in the casino, though.
Card counters like Affleck get their edge by keeping up with a rough estimate of high cards to low cards left in the deck. If a deck has an unusually high ratio of aces and 10s compared to low cards, the player has an advantage. That’s because you’re more likely to get a blackjack in this situation (a 2-card hand worth 21 points). That hand pays off at 3 to 2, so counters raise the size of their bets when they’re in that situation.
Apparently, this isn’t the first time Affleck’s done well playing blackjack at the Hard Rock. In 2001, he won $800,000 at the blackjack tables.
He’s also a regular at the World Series of Poker—along with his friend Matt Damon.
Unlike some card counters, Ben Affleck doesn’t need to grind out a living with his 1% or so edge against the house. He’s worth at least $75 million because of his career in the entertainment business.
5. Brian Zembic Won a $100,000 Bet by Getting Breast Implants
There’s a difference between dares and the kind of gambles we talk about on our site. But I’d be remiss in my duties as an interesting blogger if I left the story of Brian Zembic’s breast implants off a list of weird and wacky gambling stories.
On a dare from a wealthy backgammon-playing friend of his, Zembic got 38C breast implants. To win the bet, he had to keep them for at least a year. That was in 1996.
20+ years later, Zembic still has his breast implants.
Brian Zembic is a backgammon and table tennis gambler, but he also specializes in these kinds of crazy prop bets. The breast implants might be his most famous wager, but he also spent the night with vagrants under a bridge in New York for $5,000. To make the evening more interesting, he had $10,000 strapped to his leg at the time.
He also bet $75,000 that his 9-year. old daughter could learn to play George Winston songs better than Winston himself—in 3 years.
Who judged the outcome of that bet?
George Winston himself, who confirmed that Zembic’s daughter indeed could play his songs better than he could.
Zembic won $75,000 on that one.
You can read more about Brian Zembic and other people who place crazy prop bets in this Maxim article.
Or read Michael Konik’s book, The Man With the $100,000 Breasts and Other Gambling Stories. It’s chock full of more weird and wacky gambling stories.
Stories about gamblers are almost always weird and wacky. The industry attracts all kinds of people, both as customers and as the business people who cater to them.
I shared 5 of these stories with you, but that only scratches the surface of the facts about interesting gamblers and their tales. Most of these stories can’t be found online, but if you hang out with gamblers, you’ll almost certainly hear some even stranger stories.