No matter how technologically advanced we get, gambling itself is practically a piece of living history. Gambling goes as far back as 4,500 ago in Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Chinese and Indian cultures. Since then, it was a way to get friends and family together; later on, it started filtering into day-to-day life with people turning to luck or fate to help them make important life decisions. Gambling and the realm of iGaming were considered a man’s world.
Gambling executives have been around for ages, women gamblers for centuries, female poker pros and casino founders struggled to secure their rightful place among their male counterparts. Some of the most innovative, capable and driven women in this industry are shaping the future of online gambling, one groundbreaking action at a time as we speak. Men and women didn’t always have equal gambling rights. In Ancient Rome, men could gamble in public, while women could only do so on ‘Bona Dea’ – a women’s festival. Emperor Nero changed everything so women could participate in various games and sports in public.
The Fabulous Faro Ladies
In the 18th century, public gambling was unheard of as far as aristocratic ladies were concerned. A group of brave women came together to host gambling events in their homes. The ladies would play faro, a once-popular card game; that’s where they got the name. The Faro Ladies were Mrs. Albinia Hobart, who later became Lady Buckinghamshire. Mrs. Concannon, Lady Sarah Archer, Mrs. Sturt, and Lady Elizabeth Luttrell.
The Wild West
Everybody loves a good Western. When you picture a rough, formidable saloon, you probably see scary-looking, tobacco-chewing villains with whiskey and pistols playing card games around a gaming table. Don’t forget the fillies, as they were outnumbered at the tables by men, but it was legal then. Legendary names like Poker Alice, Kitty Leroy, and Maria Gertrudis Tules’ Barceló are just a few women who cleaned up big-time back then. Poker Alice gambled her way through the West, forcing one dealer to end a game in New Mexico where she broke the bank with gambling prowess. She always carried a revolver, owned a saloon, and got through three husbands in all.
Las Vegas Boom
During the Second World War, men were on duty overseas; women replaced them at home. Places like Reno and Vegas filled up with female players and dealers such as Shirley Brancucci: the First Lady baccarat dealer on the strip. Claudine Williams teamed up with another lady to open a late-night club at just 20 years old. She was the first lady to make the Nevada Gaming Hall of Fame. Judy Bayley was The First Lady of Gambling and the first woman to own a major Las Vegas resort.
Co-owner of MGM Grand Macau – Pansy Ho
Pansy Ho is a billionaire businesswoman from Macau and the queen of the Eastern gambling world. Daughter of Stanley Ho, the Godfather of Gambling, Pansy has been into the world of gambling from a tender age. Pansy has been into acting and public relations; however, she gained notoriety when she opened the MGM Grand in Macau and her business partner MGM Mirage. Although many controversies surround her due to her father’s alleged ties to organized crime, she still maintains her entrepreneurial skills and handles her business empire like a professional. With a net worth of over US$5.5 billion, Pansy is one of the richest women in Hong Kong.
Madame Moustache – Eleanor Dumont
While her birth-place remains a mystery, and some believing she was from France, others from New Orleans, the famous gambler Eleanor Dumont was a gorgeous woman when she was young. She only earned the nickname Madame Moustache in later years due to her appearance. Dumont first gained notoriety with her French accent and her French terms in Nevada City, California during the Gold Rush, and opened a blackjack parlour and called it Vingt-et-un. She was the only lady who was permitted in her establishment. Male customers had to behave as if other ladies were present.
Her first casino was a success, and opened a second one with more games. After the Gold Rush, Dumont quit gambling, bought a large ranch and fell in love with a con man who stole everything from her. Although she finally got revenge by tracking him down and killing him, Dumont had to return and make money gambling as a prostitute and a Madame. Her work leads her all over the Wild West to wherever she could find cash until she eventually ran out of luck in California and ended up committing suicide after losing the money she had borrowed, gambling.
Women in Poker
In 1977 the world experienced the first women’s World Series of Poker. Here are the Wonder Women of poker. Vanessa Selbst is the only woman to obtain that ranking of number one on the Global Poker Index. She is the best woman Poker player across the globe. She won 3 bracelets at the World Series of Poker and is the only poker player from America to have won two Mains Title events at North American Poker Tour.
Annie Duke has a glittering World Poker Series gold bracelet from 2004; formerly the leading cash winner in women’s poker, a record held by Vanessa Selbst. Kathy Liebert won the first Party Poker Million event in 2002; that was the first poker tournament boasting a $1 million prize! Annette Obrestad was the youngest player ever to win a WSOP bracelet at the 2007 World Series of Poker Europe. Vanessa Rousso or Lady Maverick has been bringing home the bacon as a poker professional ever since 2005
With the birth of online gambling, things changed for the industry and women in particular. Today, the split between males and females at online casinos is about 50-50. When it comes to the executive world, however, there still are not that many women as there are men. That said, we can celebrate a couple of renowned names in the business such as Patricia Becker, with more than 35 years of experience in gambling, she is the very first woman to be inducted as a Counsellor at the International Association of Gaming Advisors. She specializes in compliance and regulatory gambling issues. Virginia McDowell is honoured with countless awards, the only lady president and CEO of the leading gaming operator who tirelessly worked from 2007 until her eventual retirement.