Submitted by jays on 28 January 2014 - 3:25pm

The Chocolate Wheel is a game of chance based on a wheel marked with numbers where players are sold numbered tickets corresponding to those on the wheel. The wheel is spun and the player holding the ticket matching the number on which the wheel’s ‘flapper’ comes to rest wins a prize. The wheels were very popular during the first half of the 20th century for use at community fundraisers. Their use then, as now, required a permit but sometimes local luminaries ran foul of the law and appeared before the courts charged with breaching the Lotteries Act by running a Chocolate Wheel without a permit. The wheel in the Justice & Police Museum collection was donated by someone who purchased it at a garage sale but noticed something odd about it – a handful of numbers won every spin. It was discovered that two of the metal spokes separating the numbers were secured at the rear with heavier nuts which led to the wheel’s flapper stopping on a small range of numbers. Was the wheel deliberately rigged? Games of chance were popular with many Sydney criminals who had ways of ensuring the odds were always in their favour.

Photograph: Jamie North, 2013
Gift: The estate of James Bellamy Mackaness, 2004
Circular wheel, or Chocolate wheel, on a cast metal stand, mid 20th century Circular wheel (detail), or Chocolate wheel, on a cast metal stand, mid 20th century Back of circular wheel (detail), or Chocolate wheel, on a cast metal stand, mid 20th century Circular wheel, or Chocolate wheel, on a cast metal stand, mid 20th century
Portrait
Justice & Police Museum
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JP2004/31