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High Stakes Friday, 26 January, 2001, 12:18 GMT
High Stakes: Weird bets
High Stakes: Weird bets

High Stakes is a series of three programmes about the dramatic growth of legal gambling over the last 50 years. Here are a selection of some of the more bizarre bets and gambles people have wagered

It seems you can bet on almost anything these days. Until recently, Blue Square.com were offering live snail racing while William Hill have just introduced goldfish racing.

A punter from High Wycombe sold his 3 bedroom detached house for 147,000 to raise the funds for a one-off bet. In January 1994, he flew to Las Vegas without telling a soul, walked in to Binions Horseshoe Casino and staked the entire amount on one spin of the roulette wheel. He put 147,000 on red. The ball settled on seven (red). He had doubled his money.

In 1993, there were reports of a new type of bingo taking off in Yorkshire - Ferret Bingo! Apparently punters bet on which of seven numbered drainpipes the ferrets would choose to escape from a barrel.

It is not unknown for Middle Eastern gamblers to wager large amounts of money on the outcome of scorpion fights held on saucers.

In 1735, a well-known German author won a 'considerable wager' on a trip to Britain. He was challenged to ride a horse backwards from London to Edinburgh. It took four days to achieve it.

A publican celebrated his 23rd birthday on 23rd September 1992 by staking 23 on number 23 at 23 minutes past the 23rd hour in the Palace Casino, Isle of Man. 23 came up. He won 800.

Evel Knievel
Stunt man, Evel Knievel
In 1998, Sports Illustrated magazine reported that 59 year old one-time motorbike stunt man Evel Knievel had bet his 37 year old doctor who was treating him for hepatitis C $10,000 that he (Evel) would outlive him. The bet's outcome has yet to be decided.

A Northamptonshire pub claims to have its very own fruit machine-playing ghost. The landlord believes it is the spectre of George Wallis who, though he died 80 years ago, was a renowned womaniser and gambler.

Links to more High Stakes stories are at the foot of the page.


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