Vinkensport might sound like a sports channel from Belgium, but this is a game that is not only bet on in Belgium, but it once featured in casinos all over the country! It features a row of small cases and within each one a male Finch bird…
The idea of the game is pretty simple. The bird who makes the highest number of bird calls in an hour is the winner! Punters place their bets on the bird that looks the happiest and therefore likely to sing for the longest and the loudest. Once all bets are in the hour timer starts.The birds placed in a line about 6ft apart will soon start to sing for mates and to establish territory. A timekeeper begins and ends the contest with a red flag. Every time a bird sings a correct terminating flourish to their call—most often transcribed as susk-e-wiet—a tally mark in chalk is made on a long wooden stick. The bird singing its song the most times during one hour wins the contest. Champion finches regularly sing hundreds of calls in contests.
It is said Vinkensport (Dutch for “finch sport”) was started in 1596 by Flemish merchants and was considered to be part of their culture. But these days it is a sport that attracts 13,000+ players and punters every year. You might be surprised to hear people have been caught cheating by doping the bird with testosterone so its sings much longer and someone was even caught with a bird box with a hidden CD player hidden under it!
Sure, I can’t see this sport turning up in a local casino near me any-time soon (not outside of Belgium anyway) but it’s been a little bit of fun to learn about it.
Do you know any other weird casino/betting games? Let me know in the comments below!