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13/12/2001 No.13
he Good Gambler
The Editor or one of our professional correspondants make regular contributions to coverage of the gambling world.
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Odds and Sods

Just when you thought the gambling world was in top gear, everything slows to allow people to look over the fence and see what is going on. What they see is 'steady as she goes' and probably will remain that way until the government white-paper on gambling appears in the spring.

A fight is however brewing with Camelot. Because of ever diminishing lottery sales they are sure to fail to meet the targets they promised in order to beat Richard Branson earlier this year when retaining their license. An excuse is needed and gambling reform is it. We wouldn't normally bother with anything they have to say but the Camelot boys do have clout at the Treasury because its Gordon Brown who is pushing the gambling reform idea.

Just why Gordon Brown is concerned will soon be seen as his spending soars and his income doesn't. His whole premise for gambling reform was increase in tax revenue and the Knights at the Round table are saying they have lost out to more people playing bingo because of bigger prizes, believe it or not. This means less money for good causes and a gap the government is likely to be embarrased about. Brown will have to make up his mind which side to back.

Poker hasn't really figured in legislation and is unlikely to unless the Sports Council of GB (funded by lottery money) takes it on as a sport. Poker has been growing despite closing card rooms and the Quarter Million in Walsall was a product of that growth with a great 121 player turnout last month. They struggled with the size of that turnout and the General Manager showed his sweet ignorance of players when he said, "I just can't understand why they (the players) would leave it to the last moment to enter a £2500 competition". Hats off to its success but alas, moving on from here to bigger tournaments is very difficult given the complete lack of the skills necessary.

Next year will tell if poker makes leaps or small steps. Several very big tournaments are planned, notably the Poker Million, and their public success is a crucial factor. Whilst we wish Barry Hearn would make the card game a popular TV fixture his idea of running an event is still stuck in the days of Matchroom paying people to play snooker or pool or anything. When people pay their own prize money they naturally need and should get a bigger say in what goes on. Forcing all competitors to pay the $10,000 entry fee one month in advance seems like his way of making sure he never has to deal with poker ever again. Were no lessons learnt at the Poker Million in the Isle of Man last year?

Rounding up, the news from Las Vegas is that the poor and doomed venture that was the Aladdin casino, brainchild of people at London Clubs, people who incidentally have all disappeared, is to be auctioned off next year. Administrators are waiting for the expected upturn in business to lift its sale price. Also, to get you your mouths watering for next month, someone tipped us off that Peter Stringfellow is looking to open a poker club in London! There should be some interesting extras for the customers.

Next issue a complete round-up of UK gambling