Gambling did not start with the advent of mobile betting and is certainly not limited to it, as we are reminded by some Spanish communities.
As recent Spanish gambling news report, authorities in the Castile and Leon region have authorized establishments in eight towns to organize a traditional game called Las Chapas throughout the three days before Easter Sunday.
Las Chapas is essentially a game of heads or tails, originally played with two 19th century vintage coins of 10 centimos. Nicknamed “perra gorda” (fat bitch), the dark bronze coins feature a king’s head on one side and a chubby lion – sometimes compared to a female dog, hence the nickname – on the other side.
Nowadays it is not uncommon to see the game being played with other vintage coins. Whatever coins are used, their verso is generally painted with a cross.
Before the game starts players can wager on the outcome of the toss and the organizer (“baratero” or haggler) then handles the game and the payments, taking a percentage from the bets.
This traditional form of gambling is banned throughout the year under Spanish gambling laws, but authorized during the days before Easter. The reason is that popular tradition connects the game to the Biblical story of Roman soldiers parting Christ’s garments by “casting lots upon them, what every man should take.”
Although tales have been circulating of fortunes being bet and lost in Las Chapas games of old, only small cash bets are legal nowadays. As such, a typical three-day string of games may yield between EUR 3,000-6,000 to any given baratero.
The economic hardships of the past few years have caused the game’s popularity to diminish somewhat, leading to shrinking punter pools and wagers. Consequently the number of restaurants and pubs applying for the three-day license has also dropped. Moreover, since Easter falls on the last days of the month this year, many potential players are expected to be short on funds.