In Vegas, I got into a long argument with the man at the roulette wheel over what I considered to be an odd number.



Viva Las Vegas

Most of the Las Vegas Strip is technically not in Las Vegas at all, lying outside of the city's boundaries in the unincorporated townships of Paradise and Winchester.

This situation essentially grew from tax evasion by the mob, whereby early casino/hotels with mob backing were built just outside the city and therefore avoided its taxes, regulations and committees. This has naturally provided a problem for the city due to substantial lost tax revenues. There were moves by the City of Las Vegas to rectify this and annex the Strip in both 1946 and 1950, but on both occasions mobsters successfully opposed the moves.

The Strip boasts many of the largest hotels in the world (by room count) with over 67,000 rooms, not one of which lies inside Las Vegas' city boundaries.

Beating the Casino: Slot Machines

Simple cheats at slot machines include using foreign coins or counterfeit casino tokens (which are easier to fake than real money).

A more dedicated approach was displayed by career slot cheat Tommy Glen Carmichael: he invented the ‘monkey paw’, a device made from a steel spring and a guitar string which could be inserted into the slot to trigger the payout, and the ‘light wand’, a bright light which he could shine into the machine to blind its sensors. He used this to fund Caribbean cruises in the 1990s, paying as he went along from the on-board slot machines and hitting casinos in the ports they stopped off at on the way – with a further sideline in selling the machines to other cheats.

The simplest way to beat the casino is simply to steal the money. One of the biggest known casino heists occurred in 1993 when the driver of an armoured car simply drove away from the Circus Circus casino in Las Vegas with over $2.5 million in cash. She gave herself up in 2005.
Or you can just get lucky: at 92, Elmer Sherwin (an apt name) became the only person to have won the Nevada Megabucks slot machines jackpot twice, first winning $4.6 million in 1989 on the Mirage hotel’s opening night, and then $21 million in 2005.

Las Vegas is no longer the largest gambling centre in the world; Macau surpassed its gambling revenues in 2006.

The total of all the numbers on a roulette wheel is 666.


The roulette table pays nobody except him that keeps it. Nevertheless, a passion for gambling is common, though a passion for keeping roulette tables is unknown.

Pinball Wizards

In the 1940s, pinball machines were made illegal across the US because they were gambling machines and were associated with organised crime.  The law was revoked across the states when flippers were added in order to make them games of skill.

In Georgian slang, a 'gullgroper' was someone who lent money to gamblers.


One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and a package of garden seeds.

Nevada State Prison

From 1932 to 1967 there was an official casino inside Nevada State Prison, operated by and for inmates. 

In order to operate a game, the 'game boss' had to satisfy a prison administrative board that he could afford to bankroll the game, and contribute a fixed amount of the proceeds to an Inmate Welfare Fund – other than this tax, he kept the profits.

Inmates could gamble at blackjack, craps, chuck-a-luck, roulette, poker, and horse racing.

‘It's a Long Way to Tipperary’ was written by a fishmonger in Stalybridge for a 5 shilling bet.

Casanova once played the card game piquet for forty-two hours without a break.

Werner Herzog, the filmmaker and explorer, once had to eat his own shoe after losing a bet.