Casinos are a huge source of interesting myths, legends, and stories that almost seem too good to be true. There are tales of tremendous good luck ($25 million from slots?), dubious capitalism (atomic bomb parties?), and disgusting personal hygiene (adult diapers to keep a hot streak going?). Some of the most interesting facts about casinos and gambling come from societies where it isn't allowed, proving that it's hard to keep people from the allure of a potential big win.Gamblers in Japan are forced to exploit a huge legal loophole to get their fix, while one of the world's most famous casinos in Monaco forbids locals from playing at all. In the United States, Las Vegas reigns supreme, but Indian reservation casinos across the country are a huge force in the industry as well - despite humble origins. Here are some of the craziest, most interesting facts you probably don't know about the wild world of casinos and gambling.
The Founder of FedEx Saved the Company by Gambling in Vegas
Here's an inspiring story for aspiring gamblers and small business owners: the founder of FedEx saved his floundering company by gambling in Vegas, earning $27,000 in blackjack! The company only had $5,000 in its coffers when Frederick Smith decided to fly to Vegas in 1973 and risk it all. Though this isn't good investment or business advice in general, Smith's gamble paid off, allowing the company to last long enough to raise $11 million and eventually earn its first profits in 1976.
Vegas Casinos Capitalized on Atomic Bomb Testing in the 1950s
It sounds like a sick joke straight out of Fallout: New Vegas, but it's true: starting in 1951, the U.S. Department of Energy began detonating more than one thousand test nukes just 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, a scary spectacle that "turned night into day" and left mushroom clouds visible from casinos in the burgeoning tourist hotspot. Vegas being Vegas, the city turned the horror show into a business opportunity, promoting the detonation times via official Chamber of Commerce calendars touting Atomic Bomb Parties and offering special "atomic cocktails" at casino bars. There was even a "Miss Atomic Energy" beauty pageant at one casino, complete with little mushroom cloud outfits!
You Can Voluntarily Ban Yourself from a Casino
If your addiction to gambling is getting out of control, several states allow you to ban yourself from casinos, making it a crime to step foot on the gaming floor. Ohio, for example, has a so-called "Voluntary Exclusion" program for gamblers looking to kick the habit that allows them to ban themselves for either a year, five years, or life. If you choose the lifetime ban you better mean it: there is no way to get your name off the list once you commit to quitting for good.
The Sandwich Was Basically Invented in a Casino
The legend goes something like this: in 1765, John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, was such a huge gambler that he didn't want to leave the gaming table to eat. Instead, Montagu told his servants to just bring him some meat between sliced bread so he could eat and play at the same time. Thus the "sandwich" was born... sort of.In reality, the Earl wasn't much of a gambler, but he did enjoy his namesake meal. The legend came from a French travel guide about London and is the only source of the gambling tale. The story caught on, however, and soon people throughout Europe were craving sandwiches. Montagu didn't invent the meal - it's meat between bread, after all; people had likely been eating this combo for centuries - but he did give it a name and a cool story to go with it (whether he liked it or not!).