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 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles

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PostSubject: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Thu 07 Sep 2017, 18:22

Recorded in most ancient times gambling in some form seems to have always been with us. I am uncertain how it may have started but suspect it was seeking advice from a sage and the reading of 'signs.'

Someone here will probably know and I bet we all probably have some thoughts and tales about it and the problems it has caused.
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Fri 08 Sep 2017, 12:57

And when was gambling first seen as being immoral and ungodly? Was that a Puritan thing?

We have had a Great Village Raffle Ticket Dispute recently because someone wanted to hold a raffle in the village church at a fund-raising concert there: some members of the PCC condemned this as inviting the Devil himself to take part in the event. It all got very silly indeed, but people are still not speaking because of this debacle. I didn't help because I couldn't help laughing about the whole thing. Being sent to hell because of pink raffle tickets is a step too far, I think.

Oh, the joys of English village life.

Card playing at court was pretty notorious - didn't aristocrats (French and English) sometimes lose whole estates - or at least get into terrible debt?

And cheating at cards was an unforgiveable sin. I seem to remember an episode in my box set about Edward VII which dealt with this. Cheating at cards ranked up there with divorce as a surefire way to get yourself expelled from Society.
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Fri 08 Sep 2017, 13:29

A little anecdote picked up while reading about map-makers.
John Ogilby
from the early years of the 17th century.
wiki:

Ogilby was born in or near Killemeare (Kirriemuir), Scotland in November 1600. When his father was made a prisoner within the jurisdiction of the King's Bench, presumably for bankruptcy or debt, young John supported the family and used some of the money he earned to buy two lottery tickets, which won him a minor prize. This he used to apprentice himself to a dancing master and to obtain his father's release. By further good management of his finances, he was able to buy himself an early completion of his apprenticeship and set up a dancing school of his own. However, a fall while dancing in a masque lamed him for life and ended this career.
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Fri 08 Sep 2017, 13:36

"If a landowner chose to ‘make a sport’ of his property and to lose it, say, at the game of hazard, to another son of broad acres, that was his prerogative. But if, on the other hand, he was foolish enough to throw away what he had inherited to low-born adventurers or, worse, to Jewish moneylenders, the loss was invariably considered serious. The nation’s rulers judged it a threat to their own kind when an estate or any significant portion of one passed into the ‘wrong hands’." The Regency Underworld, Donald A. Lowe, p. 128.

Regency Gaming
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Fri 08 Sep 2017, 13:42

And some gambling to pass the time during a crucifixion:

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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Sun 10 Sep 2017, 10:38

@Temperance wrote:

Card playing at court was pretty notorious - didn't aristocrats (French and English) sometimes lose whole estates - or at least get into terrible debt?

Indeed ... it was not only to get all men practicing their archery but also the need to limit the damage and instability in society caused by excessive gambling, that led Henry VIII to introduce the 1541 so-called Unlawful Games Act, (33 Henry VIII c.9), "An Act for the Maintenance of Artillery, and debarring unlawful Games." This Act reaffirmed and clarified decades, if not centuries, of previous legislation by banning all popular games and sports (except of course archery), on any day except over the Christmas period (although not Christmas day itself as it was a Holy day). The Act didn't however apply to the gentry or nobility who, with some restrictions, could still basically do as they liked so long as it was in their own house or garden.

Henry's 1541 Act was mostly aimed at outdoor sports and games (football, rackets, bowls, skittles etc) in so much as they diverted young men from their archery practice, but indoor gambling games were also recognised as a threat, and one that could as easily entice the youths of the nobility as those of the lowborn. Accordingly cards, dicing and other gambling games were also banned to all servants and apprentices, and furthermore to "play any game for money" was only permitted to anyone with an annual income of more than £20, which was the sort of sum someone at court would have been expected to have at their disposal.

Henry VIII’s rules for gentlemen of the privy chamber clearly stated that "immoderate and continual" playing of cards, tables or dice was forbidden ... but amongst the nobility generally gambling was common and almost expected. Henry himself, just between 1529 and 1532, lost a colossal £3,243 5s 10d from playing cards and dice (that's the sum that had to be written-off by the Exchequer in 1533 for, "the king's gaming expenses"). During his entire reign Henry lost very much more and he certainly continued to regularly run up enormous gambling debts right up until his death. Henry's trouble was that, while he greatly enjoyed playing cards, he just wasn't very good at winning.


Last edited by Meles meles on Sun 10 Sep 2017, 19:01; edited 7 times in total (Reason for editing : dem commas an such)
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Sun 10 Sep 2017, 13:41

People sometimes refer to Macao as being ‘the Monte Carlo of the Orient’ or (even worse) ‘the Las Vegas of the Orient’ although legalised gambling there actually predates either of those. And even before that, unofficial gambling had been a feature of the colony ever since Portuguese sailors and merchants began trading and settling there in the 16th century.

That said, the town has witnessed an explosion in the number and size of casinos over the last 20 years. When I was there in 1990 there was only the Casino Lisboa and a couple of other smaller places where gambling was permitted. Gaming machines were also evident (but not prevalent) in the town. For some reason one could also play tic-tac-toe (noughts and crosses) on the ferry over from Hong Kong if one were so inclined. I can't say I was.

The rest of the colony was generally unaffected and the islands of Taipa and Coloane (joined to each other and the town by narrow causeway roads) could have been small fishing villages off the coast of the Algarve so quaint and unspoilt were they. Since then, however, the islands have been heavily built up on with grotesque mega-casinos and accompanying high-rise hotels etc. And they are now barely islands at all but are fused together and effectively joined to the mainland as a result of massive land reclamation programmes over the last 2 decades. Unrecognisable. So maybe ‘the Las Vegas of the Orient’ moniker is now apt after all.
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Mon 11 Sep 2017, 12:36

The Cardsharps by Caravaggio, 1594:

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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Mon 11 Sep 2017, 14:31

Henry VIII's daughter, Mary Tudor, seems to have had a real addiction to gambling. This is from p.132 of Linda Porter's 2007 biography, Mary Tudor: the First Queen:

When the grim regime that had characterised Mary's life for three years was lifted in the second half of 1536, she returned to her favourite pastime, betting on cards and dice, with a vengeance. In the accounts there are 23 different entries up to December 1538 for money delivered to the Lady Mary to play at cards: 40 to 45 shillings twice a month was common at the beginning of this period, but this amount was diminished by a half later in 1537. Perhaps Mary was trying to rein herself in. She was, for a while, spending nearly one-third of her income on gambling.

It's hard to convert "40 to 45 shillings twice a month" to today's money, but that's very roughly £4 to £5 a month at a time when the average annual wage of a prosperous blacksmith or a butcher was £6. So the princess was gambling with the equivalent of about £20,000 (£26,000 is the average 2017 wage) a month at one time! Surely I've got the sums wrong?
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Mon 11 Sep 2017, 15:19

I found this while searching the net:

Restrictions were introduced on what could be lost by gamblers, who could gamble and when, Alan Wykes, in his 'Complete illustrated guide to gambling '(Doubleday, 1964), provides one of the earliest examples of anti-gambling law:

"In 1190 those crusading kings Richard of England and Phillip of France found it necessary to have a law drawn up settling just who could and who could not gamble, and for how much. The two kings naturally exempted themselves from the law. But apart from them, only noblemen, from princes down the scale to knights could play games for money. And they were limited in their stakes to 20 shillings in any consecutive 24 hours. If they staked more, they had to forfeit all their stake money plus another 100 shillings to the church, and as a further punishment they were stripped naked and whipped, "
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Mon 11 Sep 2017, 16:05

@Temperance wrote:

It's hard to convert "40 to 45 shillings twice a month" to today's money, but that's very roughly £4 to £5 a month at a time when the average annual wage of a prosperous blacksmith or a butcher was £6. So the princess was gambling with the equivalent of about £20,000 (£26,000 is the average 2017 wage) a month at one time! Surely I've got the sums wrong?

The National Archives online currency converter calculates £5 in 1540 to be equivalent in purchasing power to £1,537.80 in 2005 ... but that seems much too low to my mind.

Perhaps a better way is to look at specific monetary examples. These are taken from Tudorhistory.org Questions and Answers blog

When John Dudley needed to raise an army to move against Mary in July 1553, he offered the men of London ten pence per day to serve in his infantry ... and that was remarked upon at the time as an unusually high rate of pay. That ten pence per day would equal 1 pound and five shillings per month (assuming a 7-day work week), or 15 pounds per year. Thus an income of 15 pounds per year was considered unsually high for a common soldier in 1553.


Hans Holbein received from Henry VIII thirty pounds per year for his work as court artist, and that sum was considered "substantial." One of Holbein's portraits of Jane Seymour was commissioned by Edward Seymour for the "princely" sum of ten shillings (1/2 pound). A photographic portrait today by a photographer of modern stature comparable to Holbein's might cost two or three thousand dollars.

An outstanding horse fetched several pounds in the Tudor period. Our own modern form of transportation, the automobile, can seldom be purchased new for less than $15,000. And while comparing Tudor-era horses and modern cars may seem unreasonable, when the purchase price of the item is related to average annual incomes, it proves to be a valid comparison.

An annual income of just 40 pounds per year qualified a man for knighthood as late as the 1620s. In the earlier reign of Edward VI, that same amount was a substantial and quite comfortable living, or " upper middle class."


..... so however you look at it Mary Tudor was gambling with large sums.
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Mon 11 Sep 2017, 18:02

I can't find my copy of Suetonius' "The Lives of the Twelve Caesars" but I'm fairly sure he describes how Roman dinner parties (given by Nero perhaps?), sometimes as an entertainment, featured a raffle/lottery where guests names were drawn from a jar and matched against prizes, in a very Alice in Wonderland, "everybody has won and all must have prizes" sort of way. And I think he also mentions that Augustus once instituted a state lottery, with large prizes of cash or land, to raise money to repair the city walls. But of course it wasn't always desirable to win Roman lotteries. Roman military units that had disgraced themselves in action could be punished by "decimation", with one man out of every ten being selected by the drawing of lots, to be put to death, usually by being bludgeoned by their brothers in arms.


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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Mon 11 Sep 2017, 18:06

Interesting info, MM - thank you.

Both Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn enjoyed playing cards, and George Wyatt (the grandson of Sir Thomas Wyatt), Anne's first biographer, relates the story of how even the saintly Catherine could not resist the occasional bitchy jibe when she got the chance. During one card game - in the presence of Henry himself - Anne turned up several kings in a row, whereupon Catherine turned to her great rival and said: "My Lady Anne, you have good hap to stop at a king, but you are not like the others, you will have all or none."

Certainly Anne was a gambler - and she was indeed playing for the highest stakes, as everyone knew.

Some have said Catherine deliberately made Anne play cards with her, because when so occupied Anne was unable to conceal the slight deformity of one fingertip, a "malformation" which even Wyatt admitted was there.

The "stop at a king" scene is rather well done in the 1970 film starring Charlotte Rampling as Anne, but I can't find it on YouTube - just this rather ghastly Victorian (?) picture.




EDIT: MM has posted something else, but will still send this...
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Mon 11 Sep 2017, 18:32

The first recorded state lottery in England was instituted by Elizabeth I as a one-off in 1567 for the "reparation of the havens and strength of the Realm, and towards such other public good works." But the lottery was not popular. The tickets cost ten shillings - which as we've discussed above was a hefty sum - and generally the public simply did not trust the whole scheme.

Optimistically it was hoped that 400,000 tickets would be sold at ten shillings each to yield a net profit of £100,000. The plan was to give nearly 30,000 prizes of a total value of about £55,000, and returning to each of the 370,000 unlucky players half a crown, or twenty-five per cent of their original bet (ie it was "without any blankes" so everyone got something even if most tickets would return less than the ticket purchase price). The first prize was £5,000 split £3,000 in cash, £700 in gold and silver plate, and the remainder in "good Tapissarie meete for hangings and other couvertures, and certaine lottes of good Linen cloth". The second prize was £3,500 divided into £2,000 in money, £600 in plate and the rest in tapestry and linen. There were eleven more premier prizes declining in value to £140, and then various others from £100 to 14 shillings. In addition, the very first person to draw a winning ticket got a "Welcome", a bonus of silver gilt plate worth £50, and the next two "Welcomes" of silver plate each worth £30 and £20 respectively.

Here's a poster advertising the prizes.

... and here's a handbill illustrating what one might win:



Foreigners were enticed to take part by only having to pay half the export duties on goods won or goods purchased with money prizes, although given the notoriously corrupt and chaotic customs system of the day, they could probably have got away with paying nothing. Other ingenious incentives were offered such as the freedom from arrest for a seven-day period for criminals coming into the larger towns to buy tickets, though those charged with major crimes such as murder, treason or piracy were not eligible.

Due to slow take-up of tickets the draw, which was originally intended for June 1568, finally started on 11 January 1569. It was held in a dilapidated shed built against the wall of St Paul's cathedral. Because of poor ticket sales only one twelfth only of the anticipated £200,000 had been collected, and so under the terms of the original scheme, the prize list had to be reduced to about £9,000 instead of rather more than £100,000. Accordingly the first prize winner could now expect to receive only £416 13s 4d (being a twelfth of the £5,000 top prize). On the other hand, the number of chances given to each ticket was increased in inverse proportion to the reduction of prize money. This meant the name of each player of ten shillings was placed twelve times in the lottery wheel containing the counterfoils. Thus in one wheel 400,000 counterfoils were placed, inscribed with the players’ names. In the other were placed 29,505 prize tickets bearing one twelfth of the original value, together with 370,495 blanks. The problem was to match the two sets of tickets because each had to be drawn by hand from the two wheels. With this cumbersome system, the draw continued "daie and night" for four months until 6 May 1569.

In the end the lottery was not a success. Despite considerable efforts by the government and lottery agents fewer than 34,000 tickets were sold, instead of the 400,000 originally planned, raising less than £5,000 instead of the £100,000 envisaged, although given that the tickets first went on sale in 1567 and the final pay-out wasn't until 1569, the government did get a small interest-free loan for a year or so. But no-one seems to have won very much. As for rebuilding the ports, an emergency twelve-month loan had to be raised from London merchants via the Privy Council. Future repairs, including the modernisation of Dover harbour, relied on bizarre schemes such as charging a two shilling and sixpence fee for all new licences for the nation’s taverns.
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Wed 27 Sep 2017, 23:53

@Temperance wrote:

It's hard to convert "40 to 45 shillings twice a month" to today's money, but that's very roughly £4 to £5 a month at a time when the average annual wage of a prosperous blacksmith or a butcher was £6. So the princess was gambling with the equivalent of about £20,000 (£26,000 is the average 2017 wage) a month at one time! Surely I've got the sums wrong?


Going back to the cost of Mary Tudor's gambling, and putting a value to the sums of cash involved, these are the costings of various items purchased for the wedding on 14 January 1526 of Roger Rockley, eldest son of Sir Thomas Rockley of Worsborough, Yorkshire, to Elizabeth Neville, daughter of Sir John Neville of Chete, (both families were only minor rural gentry rather than nobility).


 

So the £5 or so that Mary lost monthly playing cards could have bought a velvet gown lined in satin, plus shoes and hose ... or two and a half hogsheads of wine ... or two oxen plus half a dozen deer and eight peacocks.
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Fri 29 Sep 2017, 17:19

A simple raffle at a charity do in the East brought about angry scenes, resignations and tears.  Major airlines had donated tickets to distant places for the star prizes along with  the other assorted donated dross. Sales lured in by the airline tickets were good....... however, an organiser suddenly decided that the airline tickets would be drawn for last. Not all of the crowd heard that - and no wanted it, either. The first drawn ticket was for something awful and then the fur flew. That ticket was also withdrawn from the next draws and the offended lady said she was denied a chance for the big prizes. Big scene followed with drawn handbags and the draw continuing anyway -  Letters were written about lawsuits - and the airline tickets? Ah, two of those went to an odds calculating family who had bought half the tickets, anyway Luck ain't never a Lady.
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Sat 07 Oct 2017, 15:48

Monte Carlo has always been associated with gambling - the place where aristocrats lost fortunes. But it was always seen surely as a place for the rakish and the disreputable - not really where real gentlemen - or ladies - would spend time. Or am I wrong about that?

As I was driving to Exeter earlier today, I remembered for some reason the old song, "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo" - I had no idea the lyrics were about a real person, a man called Charles Wells.

Charles Wells - The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo


Wells visited the Monte Carlo Casino in late July to early August 1891, and again in November of that year. With initial stake money of £4,000, he won approximately £60,000 (equivalent to £6m) over these two visits and broke the bank several times.

At the start of each day, every gaming table in the casino was funded with a cash reserve of 100,000 francs – known as "the bank". If a gambler won very large amounts, and this reserve was insufficient to pay the winnings, play at that table was suspended while extra funds were brought from the casino's vaults. In a ceremony devised by François Blanc, the former owner of the casino, a black cloth was laid over the table in question, and the successful player was said to have broken the bank. After an interval, the table was re-opened and play continued. (François Blanc had died in 1877 and his son, Camille Blanc, was head of the casino at the time of Charles Wells' 1891 visits).


Here's the famous song - an ear worm if ever there was one:





THE MAN THAT BROKE THE BANK AT MONTE CARLO.
Copyright, 1892, by Francis, Day & Hunter.
Written and Composed by Fred Gilbert.
Sung by Charles Coborn.

I've just got here, through Paris, from the sunny southern shore;
I to Monte Carlo went, just to raise my winter's rent;
Dame Fortune smiled upon me us she'd never done before,
And I've now such lots of money I'm a gent-
Yea, I've now such lots of money I'm a gent.

Chorus.
As I walk along the Bois Boo-long, with an independent air.
You can hear the girls declare, "He must be a millionaire";
You can hear them sigh and wish to die;
You can see them wink the other eye
At the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.

I stay in-doors till after lunch, and then my daily walk
To the great Triumphal Arch is one grand triumphal march.
Observed by each observer with the keenness of a hawk,
I'm a mass of money, linen, silk and starch�I'm a mass of money, linen, silk and starch.- Chorus.

I patronized the tables at the Monte Carlo hell
Till they hadn't got a son for a Christian or a Jew;
So I quickly went to Paris for the charms of mad'moiselle,
Who's the load-stone of my heart-what can I do
When with twenty tongues she swears that she'll be true?- Chorus.
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PostSubject: Re: 'Luck be a Lady, Tonight' - Gambling, Lotteries and even Raffles   Sat 07 Oct 2017, 16:35

Good one, Temp. Wells should be the subject of a film - a fascinating person in the sense that he was obviously a con artist and yet the best attempts to expose his gambling prowess as a cheat all failed.

He started out as an "inventor", his two most ambitious patents being a musical skipping rope and then a “combination fire-extinguishing grenade replete with lamp and chandelier” (who wouldn't want one?). After emerging understandably penniless from this venture he then started setting up fictitious companies for which he  "crowd funded" investment through classified advertisements in newspapers along the lines of "Suddenly come in to a small inheritance? Give it to me and I will increase it ten-fold". This wasn't going too well either and he had come under investigation by the London police when one last desperate attempt yielded two huge investments amounting to around two million pounds in today's money which he duly pocketed and then skipped off sharply to Ireland.

In Ireland he could now reinvent himself as an experienced entrepreneur and his lavish lifestyle seemed to confirm his claim. However as funds diminished and as London was still a little too dodgy to return to, he set his sights on a gullible Irish aristocrat from whom he managed to extricate around a million pounds in modern currency to "go to the south of France and set up a sugar factory".

This is the point where it becomes hard to distinguish bullshit from actual graft. He did indeed manage to establish the factory, and even quite honestly repaid most of the Irish lord's investment while keeping only a small salary for himself. The factory itself struggled throughout and failed within three years. But this also coincided with visits to nearby Monte Carlo, and though at this point he did not apparently gamble, he spent quite a lot of time - as he claimed later himself - "studying" how the casinos operated. His first idea was to open one himself, which turned out to be impossible and he said it was only in desperation that he turned to chancing his arm at their tables instead.

Wells was evicted several times for suspected card-counting and other obvious attempts to cheat, but he used a mixture of charm and pseudonyms to get back in again. The first time he "broke a bank" (emptied the table's float of all its reserve) he ended up with more money in a single day than even the most audacious of his earlier business frauds had yielded. He then embarked on a very astutely planned strategy of very infrequent visits to the casinos which, he said later, yielded a big result only on every third attempt, but in the course of which he broke the bank six times. Along the way he "acquired" the protection and endorsement of some eminent aristocrats whose acqauintanceship facilitated the casinos' tolerance of his presence, notably Count Branicki, an inveterate and very unsuccessful gambler. This didn't hurt, but a more realistic interpretation of why he was allowed prolong his career lies with the fact that at this stage the casinos were now under threat of closure on moral grounds by the new Prince Albert, and courted any good publicity they could get. They certainly started at this point to rather blatantly encourage his patronage, even setting advertisements outside to announce when next he was expected - when Wells turned up so did many hundred more patrons as news of this man's good fortune grew. Eventually, thanks in no small part to a hefty endowment to the Prince which appeased his moral umbrage sufficiently, their licences were assured, during which time he "broke the bank" at least three more times. This was the stage when his welcome and usefulness to the casino bosses finally wore out, as had the possibility of disguising his identity, so he went back to London, paid up any outstanding debts in a deal to avoid imprisonment for earlier frauds, and then lived off his by now considerable local reputation from his Monte Carlo achievements.

This was the point when Fred Gilbert, a theatrical agent and songwriter, saw the headline on a newspaper hoarding on The Strand and wrote the song, which only worked to Wells' benefit of course. With this unprecedented global publicity he managed to get newspaper sponsorship to travel again to Monte Carlo and "break the bank" again. And he did!

He seemed to lose his appetite both for renown and gambling immediately afterwards and apparently went back to his old commercial fraud habits, though his reasons are by no means obvious - he now had a considerable fortune at his disposal and could easily have gone "legit" as an investor in more reputable and assuredly profitable enterprises. He was named several times in certain fraud cases (one was a military contract in which his alleged personal cut would have been worth around half a billion pounds today whereby Southampton would acquire an offshore naval base), none of which were actually proven and the money never paid to him anyway. It appears the police were now determined to "get him" and were basically chucking any suspected fraud in his direction hoping one of them would turn out to be his. There is even a suspicion of deliberate entrapment on their part such was their determination to nail him.

Ironically it was one of the smaller ones, through which he would have only received around a thousand pounds, that was eventually proven against him and he served five years in jail. He died a man of moderate means some years later.

The extent of collusion between Wells and the casinos in Monte Carlo is the big question mark over his apparent "luck" - many attempts have been made to prove it, and not for no reason as the casinos themselves were not exactly run by squeaky clean people (the main Casino well known to have been established through the proceeds of a considerable fraud by its founder, Blanc Senior). However to this day nothing beyond supposition can be levelled against the man who "broke the bank in Monte Carlo" not once but probably eleven times in total, though exactly how this "luck" was assured - even with Blanc's Casino most likely complicit in the scam - was a secret that went with him to his grave.
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