People are often looking for a quick way to strike it lucky with online gambling. Some resort to myths such as the many myths about blackjack, roulette and slot machines. Others however adopt the illegal DIY approach of tampering with games or even cheating.
Most of these scammers get caught without making a cent. But then there are those that get away with it and make history. That’s exactly what happened with what has become known as the Royal Baccarat Scandal, the biggest baccarat scandal in history.
This scandal has garnered such notoriety that it has been referenced in several James Bond films. In one such Bond film, Moonraker, 007 is on a mission to capture Sir Hugo Drax who, it is rumoured, was caught cheating at bridge. Parallels are made in the film between this fictional episode of cheating and the actual Royal Baccarat Scandal.
The scandal took place in the early 19th century when baccarat was declared illegal in England. But with all things, when something is outlawed people find a way to get around the law. And that is especially true for baccarat in the early 19th century. The upper echelons of British society loved the game and despite it being banned would regularly play it at parties.
The infamous scandal took place at one of the common upper class parties, hosted by a well-known shipbuilder, Sir Arthur William. At this particular party the then Prince of Wales and Sir William Gordon-Cumming were playing against each other in a game of baccarat. There was nothing scandalous about this. As mentioned, baccarat was a common game at these parties.
What did make this particular game of baccarat stand out from others was that Sir William Gordon-Cumming was caught cheating. Some of the guests who saw Gordon-Cumming removing or adding chips as needed and confronted him. As a result, the baccarat-loving Gordon-Cumming agreed to never gamble again and the guests promised never to breath a word of this to anyone.
But like all incidents that become scandals of note, this didn’t end there and soon the aristocracy starting talking. It didn’t take long for irreparable damage to be done. Gordon-Cumming was rejected from many of the social circles in which he has once been favourably regarded. This caused Gordon-Cumming to file charges of defamation against many of his former friends. The effects of this were that it brought what could have been a hushed-up incident of gambling into the public domain.
The Prince of Wales was forced to testify. He found himself in a particularly sticky situation as he was forced to admit that even though baccarat was illegal he had played it. Moreover, he was called into question for not reporting the illegal activity as the law required.
This caused much public scandal and became known as the Royal Baccarat Scandal. Despite Gordon-Cumming’s attempts he wasn’t able to clear his name. He remained a social pariah who was not highly regarded in social circles. The day after the trial, he married his fiancée, American heiress Florence Garner. Perhaps this was Gordon-Cumming’s last attempt to save his reputation but it didn’t work.
Once a proud soldier, after the incident he was forced to take a leave of absence from the army. The Prince of Wales was less affected by the scandal. He continued to indulge in gambling but was more careful. It is believed that after this incident the prince gave up baccarat.
There’s something almost magical about playing a game with such an incredible story. From James Bond to the Royal Baccarat Scandal, this game has established its place in pop culture and history alike.
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