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The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo

On this day 125 years ago: 20 July 1891

By July 20, 2016No Comments
Monte Carlo Casino

The Casino at Monte Carlo. A view of the southern aspect.

In the London Bankruptcy Court on this day a man named Carl Westergaard, the owner of racing stables in Ostend, appeared before a judge.  The Yorkshire Evening Post reported on the case:


In November, 1889, with £500 given by a friend, [Westergaard] went to Monte Carlo, and, while there he lost that money at the tables, in addition to £300 borrowed from the petitioning creditor, and which he had since been unable to repay … He attributes his failure to losses by gambling, to household and personal expenditure, and to other causes.

Similar articles frequently appeared in the British press, and the Casino at Monte Carlo – the only place in Europe where gambling was legally allowed – attracted considerable criticism for encouraging people to risk their money, and that of other people.  There was another side to Monte Carlo, however:

The Prince of Monaco has proved himself a most diligent investigator of the questions connected with ocean currents.  In command of his own steamer he has made the currents of the Atlantic the subject of investigation for years, and the results at which he has arrived are at least full of interest, if not also of high scientific value.   [Birmingham Daily Post]

A week later Charles Deville Wells made his own journey to Monte Carlo and his successes there pushed stories like these on to the back pages.

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