Casino Games For Royalty

If chess is the game of kings, so is gamblingSource: Pixabay

A pack of 52 cards includes four suites that each has three court cards: the Jack, Queen and King. In bygone days, these cards were much more meaningful because they symbolised the nobles of the court, who lived very much as though life was a game of cards in which they moved up and down the ladder of victory and defeat against their rivals at court. It should come as no surprise, then, that the kings and queens of England have always been fond of betting games. At the same time, the online casinos of today, with all their casino games, would not exist without the contribution of monarchs like Queen Elizabeth I, who inherited a love of gambling from her father and set up the first lottery system in England. 

The King Holds All The Cards

King Henry VIII of England loved casino games so much that he became known as “England’s Number One Gambler”. Of course, things were a bit different in the sixteenth century – there were no casinos as players know them today, let alone the online casinos which are the primary platform of games and entertainment at present. Instead, people played wherever they found the opportunity. As for the games themselves, a time traveller from the present would find it quite easy to join in at the tables – the most popular games included playing at dice and Henry’s favorite, a card game called primero, which has been compared to poker. Naturally, as king, Henry held all the cards – if he lost a game, he could have his opponent imprisoned or even executed. Another advantage of being king was that Henry had infinite access to the bank. Sometimes the cards seemed to imitate life itself – in the game known as Pope Joan, the cards, with names like King, Queen, Jack, Pope, Game, Matrimony and Intrigue, were almost like a symbolic mirror of the crazy shenanigans going on at Henry’s court.

Henry VIII loved to play backgammonSource: Pixabay

Casino Games At Court

Henry VIII had only one child, a daughter – Queen Elizabeth I of England, also known as the Fairy Queen. She inherited her father’s love of gambling and was instrumental in setting up England’s first official lottery in England. That was in 1567. Although she loved to play cards for entertainment – and was rumoured to cheat – Elizabeth I had the vision to realise that gambling could help her rule her kingdom better. The kingdom of England was always short of funds for important public works projects like rebuilding ports and building ships for the Royal Fleet. Back in the days of Robin Hood, a monarch would have thought nothing of bleeding the people to death with taxes, but Elizabeth had other ideas. Her ground-breaking innovation was to create a lottery system to keep the wealthy entertained. Like many online slots today, the Elizabethan lottery had a generous jackpot as well as fringe benefits like immunity from arrest. Although this may seem peculiar today, at the time it was a common thing for the Queen’s favorites to be arrested when they displeased her, so it stands to reason that the nobles were motivated by other rewards than potentially winning the jackpot. All in all, Elizabeth normalised the idea that the state could be funded by the lottery system, setting the scene for other rulers to do the same. Today, lotteries contribute important funds to many important social causes. 

The Prince of Baccarat

Several centuries after Elizabeth, the royals lost none of the traditional taste for casino games. Prince Edward was the son of Queen Victoria and the future King Edward VII of England. His mother was one of the most hands-on monarchs of all time – which meant that the young prince had plenty of time on his hands. With all the influence and money at his disposal, Edward became a dissolute rake known as the Playboy Prince. It might come as a surprise to learn what saved him from a life of dissipation. Eventually Edward turned to culture as a means of escape from his hedonistic lifestyle – which included a sophisticated upper-class style of gambling. His game of choice was  baccarat – he even had his own special set of baccarat counters designed. After cleaning up his act in this way, his reputation improved and he became one of the most popular kings ever.

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