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People bet on some funny things. Here are some of the strangest:



The Australians favourite gambling pastime is called “two-up”. The game has all pretentious qualities we associate with Australians, involving betting on the throw of a coin or, for the daring, betting on two or more throws of a coin.



The Japanese, in many senses earth’s premier gambling nationality, bet billions a year on power-boat racing.


Pachinko – Japan’s National Pastime (Part II)

Pachinko – Japan’s National Pastime (Part I)


The Belgians apparently bet small fortunes on bird singing. No, really. Birds are kept in covered cages and bets are placed on the pitch and duration of bird song. Apparently.



Gambling is forbidden here, apart from one day of the year when top Muslim clerics compete against each other in dodgem cars and the strongest man wins. Okay, I made that one up.



The French have a card game known as trente te quarante (“thirty and forty”), a blackjack/ baccarat type game where cards are added up in two separate rows at face value and the row closest to thirty-one wins. Here is an extract from a description (in Syd Helprin’s “European & Asian Games”) of how trente et quarante wagering works:


The “color” bets wins and “inverse” loses when the actual colour of the first card is the same as the arbitrary “color” of the row that wins the red or black bet. The “inverse” bet wins and the “color” bet loses when the actual color of the first card dealt is opposite to that of the arbitrary “color” of the winning Togel black or red row… Any the wiser? Me neither.



The Chinese have a game called Fan Tan, or “buttons”, which involves a dealer cutting into a pile of lacquer-coated beans. The gamblers bet on the how many will be left. Apparently Korean legend associates a man’s reproductive competence with the ability to win successive games of Fan Tan.




Magna Entertainment are planning the first ever horse racing track built solely for TV and online gambling. The Canadian company believe the venture will make them masters of the I-gaming world.


Due to open in 2006 the $250 million complex is to be one of North America’s most advanced race tracks ever created. Indeed the track is designed more as a TV studio than with the attendance of people in mind. However Magna also intends a 1.2 million square feet off-track Las Vegas style resort to attract families with the likes of cinemas, restaurants and hotels.


Dixon Downs, the small farm town where all this development is due to take place is already looking towards the radical change Magna are to bring. The town has started to plan for horse stalls, a dormitory for stable tenders and even a 5,000-seat centre showing all North American horse racing broadcasts.


In five years Magna has risen to become the dominating name in horse racing in North America. Now that 85 percent of punters gamble off track the company plan to use I-gaming to attract a global audience. Jim McAlpine, Magna CEO explains how they plan to: “…become a major owner of racing content, live racing, which you get by owning race tracks,” then to reach, “as many customers at home, in sports bars and hotels as we can.”