Gambling On Star Wars – Was 1 Gamble Responsible for The End of the Jedi?

By Staff
April 8, 2024

When you think about it, the entire Star Wars series is based on a seemingly never-ending list of short-odds gambles.

Right from the release of the very first film in the series, Star Wars – A New Hope in 1977, the notion of ‘beating the odds’ has been central to the celebrated film series.

And on some occasions, gambling itself has played a central role in the plot.

So much so, is it possible that an ill-advised gamble was the origin of the eventual end of the Jedi Order and the rise of the dreaded Emperor to power?

Now sites such as bet365 Sport are fervently supporting and promoting responsible gambling, which is great to see.

But it is just a shame the company wasn’t around on Tatooine a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away!

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The Gamble Before A Single Frame Was Shot

In fact, if you go back to the time before Star Wars, director George Lucas took an epic gamble to even get the franchise off the ground.

In the mid-1970s, Science Fiction films were out of fashion. And while his contemporaries were producing films such as Apocalypse Now, Jaws and The Godfather, George Lucas decided to go in a different direction.

His treatment for Star Wars extended to just a few pages, but it told the whole story of Anakin Skywalker, his rise to prominence as a Jedi, his fall from grace under the influence of Palpatine and his eventual painful redemption and death.

A fan of Sci-Fi series of his youth, which were divided into individual episodes, Lucas divided his story into six parts. But when it came to making the first film, he decided that, as this was only likely to be a one-film deal, that Episode Four had the makings of the best standalone film in the series.

Which is why the original Star Wars crawl in the opening credits lacked a title and episode number. Lucas envisioned the film would be a one-off.

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Lucas Doubles Down On Star Wars’ Success

Despite its unpopularity as a genre at the time, Lucas was convinced his story would resonate and in addition to taking the gamble to direct his sci-fi film, he also took another huge gamble. Rejecting a greater share of the film profits, he took a smaller share and also took a hefty slice of merchandising profits.

On both those factors, Lucas would find his bet was hugely profitable. Despite the misgivings of his colleagues. In a preview of the film, minus all the special effects, a host of famous directors all felt that the film would surely be a flop. Apart from one. Steven Spielberg.

He said he thought the film would be a “big hit” and would make “$50-$60 million” at the Box Office.

Star Wars generated $775 million in Box Office upon release. $3.5 billion adjusted for today’s prices.

The original Star Wars was indubitably a massive success, and revenue from the sales of merchandise dwarfed the box office takings. All of which meant Lucas would never have to direct another film again if he so wished. His double gamble had paid off.

But it would be a different gamble in the film series that eventually set the dice in motion for the dramatic events that followed.

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“The Force Is Strong With This One…”

Star Wars huge initial success led the way for two sequels, 1981’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, both of which were a huge success and generated further massive profits for the studio and creator.

However, Lucas was mindful that only the second half of his original story had been told and so in the 1990s, excitement amongst Star Wars fans was reignited with news that a three-film Prequel series was in the offing.

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The Prequels…And A Fateful Roll of the Dice

The first of these was Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace, in which we meet the very young Anakin Skywalker for the first time.

Jedi Knight Qui Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) is convinced that Anakin is “The Chosen One”, a jedi of great power prophesised to bring order to the universe from chaos. This is further confirmed when he tests Anakin’s Midi-Chlorian count and discovers an incredibly high number.

The problem is Anakin is a slave, indentured to Toydarian junk trader and gambler Watto, who purchased Anakin and his mother Shmi Skywalker from Gardulla the Hutt.

To secure Anakin and his mother’s freedom, and the part he needs for his damaged ship, Jinn makes a bet with Watto that Anakin will win the Boonta Eve Pod Race. If he wins Qui Gon will win engine parts he needs and if not Watto receives the Ship that Qui Gon and Padme need to repair.

Watto accepts the bet and is very confident Anakin will lose, Qui Gon has bet to secure the engine part he needs and the Pod Racer, but now wants to free Anakin and his mother. So he offers to take Watto’s bet on Sebulba winning, offering the Pod Racer in exchange for Shmi and Anakin.

Watto refuses the bet, stating that he had too much to lose, so Qui Gon states he’ll accept Anakin having his freedom should he win the race. Watto declines and says he will late fate decide, rolling a chance cube to decide whether it will be Shmi or Anakin who win their freedom should Anakin win the pod-race.

Watto rolls the cube and Qui Gon uses the force to ensure the cube lands blue side up, meaning Anakin will win his freedom and the crucial engine part, if he wins the race.

From that moment on, the Jedi order was, in the words of C3PO, “doomed”.

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Eh? How Does The Dice Roll Mean The Jedi Order Becomes Extinct?

It is safe to say that if Qui Gon does not make this bet, or lets the roll of the chance cube happen naturally and it turns up red. Then the rest of the Star Wars saga would not happen.

Anakin would remain a slave to Watto. He would not become Qui Gon’s new apprentice, then Obi Wan’s after Qui Gon’s death. He would not become at odds with the Jedi council, nor would Palpatine be able to turn him to the dark side using his love for Padme and the Jedi Council’s seeming hostility towards Anakin, against him.

Without that fateful roll of the dice, the entire saga does not happen. The Jedi Council survives, and Palpatine remains a Sith in disguise as a senator from Naboo.

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Other Gambling References In Star Wars

Strange as it may seem, gambling and gaming plays a role in other key parts of the Star Wars story too. Some of the examples are listed below: –

  • In the Empire Strikes Back when fleeing the Empire and heading into a field of asteroids, C3P0 tells Han Solo that “the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3720 to 1” to which Solo replies “Never tell me the odds!”
  • It is revealed that Han Solo came into possession of the Millennium Falcon by winning her as part of a wager in a game of Sabacc from his friend Lando Calrissian.
  • Watto and the Hutts as well as many other alien forms are seen betting on Pod Races. Watto even explains that he has bet against his own race Anakin in races to land a profit.
  • Chewbacca and R2D2 are seen playing Dejarik,a form of Star Wars-based Chess on the Millennium Falcon.

Then reflect on the odds of a successful assault on the mighty Death Star by hitting a 2-meter wide Exhaust Port in excess of 1000’s of miles an hour on a space station the size of a small moon. I don’t know what C3PO would calculate those odds at, but they’d be pretty long.

Then imagine doubling that up by destroying a second, even bigger and fully operational Death Star a few years later!

So yes, the art of the gamble is very much a central theme in the Star Wars story. And without it, the story may not have even happened!

“Never Tell Me The Odds!”

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So, whether it is betting on the races (sadly, no pod-races as yet), enjoying poker instead of Sabacc, or spinning the slots to beat the odds, bet365 has a massive choice of options for you.

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