With some crazy Lotto and Euromillions jackpots recently, it got us here at Geektown thinking about gambling, not only in the UK, but around the world. Lotteries are pretty common place in the western world, but what other games are there out? That’s what we set to find out.
What better place to start than at home. The UK has a solid selection of things to gamble on, from lotteries & BINGO, to football & online casinos (try BestUKCasinos.co.uk for a good list). However, it’s also got some rather stranger gambling habits… If we gloss over Ferret Bingo (yes, that really was a thing), and talk about the weird stuff we like to bet on. For us, it’s less about the games and all about the fact that your local bookie will take a bet on pretty much anything. From the traditional “Will it be a white Christmas?”, or “Who will be the next US president?” (side note, something Americans can’t do in their own country), to the slightly more obscure such as “What year will Aliens life be proven?” (100/1 on most years), or “who will be the next actor to play Doctor Who?” The bookies don’t always get it right though, as one man found just before Christmas, when a £5 bet on Leicester being top of the league at the end of the year came in at 1000/1… I bet there was some celebrating in his house on New Years! Not crazy enough? How about betting on your own mortality! When Jon Matthews was diagnosed with cancer and given 5 months to live by doctors, rather than wallow in a pit of despair, he heading to his local betting shop. He placed a bet that he would beat the odds… and he did, winning 10 grand in his first year by simply refusing to die. Sadly, he passed away before managing to collect another £10,000 had he survived a second year.
Being the US, of course the Oscars are popular to bet on, but I’m not talking about who wins what award. Last year you could take bets at 33/1 on whether power goes out causing the Oscars to be interrupted, or 12/1 on Kanye West storming the stage during any award presentation… TV shows were also popular things to bet on, whether it’s the winner of American Idol, or Who Shot JR back in the 80’s. What’s rather more interesting is the things you can’t bet on. As I mentioned above, US citizens aren’t allowed to bet on politics, although there is a movement over the pond to change that law. The argument being, if you have some ‘skin in the game’ you’re more likely to vote. However, if you live in Indiana, it’s illegal to play cards for money, even if it’s a friendly bet in your own home. Last year they even ‘cracked down’ on a group of OAPs playing to raise money for their local senior citizen’s centre where the prizes were things such as cans of fruit and toilet paper…
Ahh the Australian. Always up for a laugh, and prepared to take on a bet. There are of course a number of perfectly normal Australian gambling websites, which they utilise to the fullest. It’s estimated a staggering 80% of Australians participate in gambling of some kind. With those sort of numbers, why would you just bet on traditional sports like soccer or rugby, when you could be putting your dollars down on Sumo Wrestling or Surfing. If you feel like going a little more obscure, how about betting on former PM Tony Abbott’s next purchase from Gumtree? This bet appeared after the politician bought a $300 3 year old Daewoo fridge from a rather surprised Emmanuel Hastings last December.
Finally Canada. We usually think of Canadians as America’s more level headed sibling… Then along comes Brian Zembic. As a pro backgammon player Brian was obviously not afraid of taking on a bet. So when his gambling buddy Jobo bet him $100,000 to get 38C breast implants for a year, like Barney Stinson, it was ‘Challenge Accepted’, and off he went to the plastic surgeon. The astonished of Jobo tried to back out of the bet, offering $50,000 when he realised Zembic was actually going to go through with it, but Brian said ‘no deal’, and had his boobs installed. After they year was up, the bet was won, but story had made him somewhat of a celebrity, so he kept them, and as of the time of writing this, still has them. It’s fair to say, Brian is a breast man.