In July 1891, Charles Wells “broke the bank at Monte Carlo”. Only he didn’t. He won all of the value chips on the table, about $20,000. Wells was a con man, playing with swindled money and despite “breaking the bank “ eleven more times, he lost it all back and more. He was arrested for fraud, found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison.
The symbols "+" and "-" first appeared in an unpublished manuscript by German mathematician Regiomontanus in 1456. Their first appearance in print was in a mercantile handbook by Johannes Widmann, printed in Leipzig in 1489.
Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire (1757 – 1806) was a keen gambler. When she died, it is said she owed more than £3 million in today’s money.
From the Morning Chronicle, 26 March 1811
A blacksmith at Stroud ate on Tuesday, for a trifling wager, a pint of periwinkles with the shells, in the space of ten minutes. Being desired to repeat this disgusting feat he readily did it, but he is now so dangerously ill that he is not expected to recover.
Affordability checks are not new. In 1190, an edict was made that during the crusade, anyone below the rank of knight or who wasn’t a clergyman was forbidden from gambling. Knights and clergymen were not allowed to lose more than 20 shillings per day. Monarchs were exempt. Anyone who breached this rule were to be whipped naked around the army camp for three days.
The Bible does not mention gambling as a sin. It does however, mention gambling twice; that Samson makes a bet with his groomsman and loses and where an officer of the Assyrian King makes a bet with King Hezekiah of Judah, “I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them”.
According to Plutarch, Mercury and the Moon played dice and Mercury won one seventieth of the Moon’s light.
From The Times of London, 2 April 1794, appears this article, which appears to be the first mention of taxing gambling heavily in order to control it.
“…. If justice is to be hoodwinked and gambling and sharking permitted, why not make it an article of revenue, as in foreign countries, and lay a heavy tax on it.”
Whites, a “Gentlemen’s” Club, established in 1693, kept a book of all of the bets its members made.
In November 1754, Lord Montford bet Sir Jno. Bland one hundred guineas that Mr (Beau) Nash would outlive Mr Cibber, an actor. Unfortunately, both Lord Montfort and Mr Cibber took their own lives before the bet was decided.
In Rome, in 81 BC laws were passed such that creditors could not sue for gambling debts, but losers could sue to have their losses returned.