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12/09/2002 No.20
he Good Gambler
The Editor or one of our professional correspondants make regular contributions to coverage of the gambling world.
Email : TheEditor on any subject.
Greek government goes potty
Paypal stops transfers to Gambling sites
Rank's (Grosvenor Casinos) profits up 52% after machine changes
The World Against Us

Poker players and gamblers in general become targets

Gamblers as second class citizens is not a new idea. All of you reading have had the displeasure of explaining your pleasure to dissenting people with the "I know they won't understand" feeling along with a "why am I doing it" one. The sad thing I have to say is that its not going to get better with changes in the law.

But first a short trip to Greece. A few months ago the Greek government, floundering around trying to react to opinion polls, decided to ban all slot machines. All 100,000 of them. Fair enough you might say, though not really a free world policy, it could make some sense. Then they decided to ban internet gambling so that only the state owned casinos would be the only place to gamble. Not so fast you might say, you socialist politicians are just a little greedy. Perhaps your real motives are not to hard to spot.

Then we hear that the US government is putting the squeze on credit card companies to stop supplying internet casinos with customer revenue. Some have agreed to stay away from Carribean based outfits. Those casinos with bookmakers attached like William Hill, Ladbroke and Sporting Bet are going to be safe but most will eventually disappear.

So who is winning the war? Surely internet gambling is unstoppable? The jury is out for now but what about the poker players. Many of you will no doubt have come across PayPal, some will have used it to transfer money to player poker with. Well PayPal has just been purchased by eBay. Paypal was in court recently in New York after admitting processing payments from its New York members to online gambling merchants. It will now pay $200,000 in fines and eBay has decreed that PayPal will no longer supply gambling sites with money. Is this trouble for poker?

Well one thing that is trouble for poker is the change in gambling in Britain. No laws have been changed so far, yet with a nod and a wink casinos across the country have changed out of all proportion. New games have been brought in (with incredibly bad rules for customers) and roulette machines (see earlier articles) have swept the land. The real changes are still coming with an actual law change in two years.

Has any of that made a difference? Well Grosvenor Casinos, the chain that has the Victoria Casino, Luton and Walsall, has made an increase in operating profit of 52% in the last year of these changes. And the law hasn't even been changed. When it does every little space, and that includes all the poker rooms, will be turned into machine rooms

Some people say to me that Casino Managers will retain the poker players for atmosphere. I say that as they are on 1% profit bonus, an extra million means a lot to them.

Now lets go back to Greece for our holidays. Lets take a GameBoy or two to play with on the beach. Not so fast. After the Greek government banned slot machines they realised that all arcade games were being rigged to offer prizes to compensate for the reduction in revenue. So they have now banned all electronic games, period. That means playing chess on your laptop is now illegal in Greece. The penalties for being caught at it, in public or in private, are a fine of up to €75,000 (£42,850) and 12 months in jail.

My advice. Consolidated bargaining. Freequent the casinos that have a good poker attitude and make those the hardest to close down. Don't buy Stanley Casino shares any more because they have risen over the last year without a corresponding improvement in their understanding of the market. Rank, who own Grosvenor, have done well because they have the correct formulae of maximum pillage of their customers.