Gambling is an action-packed activity that’s enjoyed by just about everyone. The allure of winning life-changing amounts of cash is simply irresistible. Throw in the electrifying ambience and the free drinks, comps and bonuses and it’s no wonder priests, presidents and Playboy centre spreads pinch, punt and play whenever they have a spare moment in the day.
In the first part of Fascinating Facts on Casinos and Gambling we focused on royal high rollers, big and small casinos and gambling jurisdictions; past, present and future. This time around we take a look at way-out wagers, lady celebrities with the gambling bug and politicians and priests who take betting and winning to all-new depths.
In gambling, fortune favours the brave… or does it? Champion boxer, Floyd Mayweather thinks it does. He’s one celebrity who loves to bet big. The £5.9 million he wagered on Miami Heat trouncing the Indiana Pacers in 2013 is one of the biggest sports bets of all time. His winnings? A paltry $600k!
Legendary sports gambler Dave Oancea wasn’t so lucky. He bet $1 million on America’s Miesha Tate defeating Brazilian rabble-rouser Amanda Nunes to hold onto the UFC Woman’s Bantamweight title. Nunes demolished her opponent in a fourth straight win. So instead of pocketing $1.89 million, Oancea lost the lot.
Female Celebrities Who Gamble
We all know Ben Affleck, Shane Warne, Charlie Sheen and Tiger Woods play Texas Hold’em, blackjack and stud poker. But did you know there’s a posse of lady celebrities who enjoy a bit of gambling on the side?
Pop into the Palms, Bellagio or Borgata in Vegas or make a trip Down Under to the Crown Casino in Melbourne and there’s a good chance you’ll spot Demi Moore, Drew Barrymore or Maria Sharapova at the tables. Saunter across to the slots and you may catch a glimpse of Pamela Anderson feeding coins into her very own Playboy slot machine!
Politicians Who Win: Luck or Corruption?
Impeached US President Richard Nixon apparently funded his election campaign with money he won gambling during his navy days. History tells us he was decidedly dodgy but there’s no evidence he cheated at poker. African dictator and Zimbabwe’s president-for-life Robert Mugabe is another matter altogether. He’s not only plundered the nation’s treasury and increased his own salary by 200 percent, he managed to ‘hit’ the country’s state lottery to bank the top prize. Coincidence or brazen corruption? We’ll leave it up to you to decide.
Priests Who Pinch to Punt
What’s with it with the men of the cloth? There’s a growing number of Catholic priests who’ve been caught stealing parish funds to cover their gambling debts. We’re not talking nominal amounts of money, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One ‘good’ pastor in Las Vegas stole $650 000 from the church mission fund, the gift shop and even the votive candle fund – for heaven’s sake – to play online slots. In 2016, a priest in Du Page County filched $300 000 from the parish funds, while a priest from a North Ayrshire parish was jailed for 10 months for stealing £96 000 to play on the horses.
It’s a New Jersey priest, however, who claims the crown as the most wicked of all. He professed it wasn’t luck or skill that made him lose tons of money playing poker, it was God himself. In an act of revenge he began distributing child pornography material but as the crime took place before he was ordained to the priesthood, he was absolved of his sins!