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he Good Gambler
The Editor or one of our professional correspondants make regular contributions to coverage of the gambling world.
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A new word for Las Vegas. What?

Its been a good time for gambling, in the last week, the last month, the last year. Al Alvarez's autobiography, "Where did it all go right?", just about sums that all up. Or does it? The number of gaming websites (where you can lose money) has doubled over the last year from around 700 to 1400 but they aren't all making money. The big names take the lion share, the rest fight over scraps tossed them by less discerning gamblers who download their software for a quick impulsive fling. Most of these smaller names are destined to disappear along with their customers money and credit card details within the next year, that's certain.

The big boys are playing the game for keeps. spent £1,000,000 on marketing bizarre 1970's ads in glossy mags that no gambler reads. What they were saying is that its cool to gamble online. They would have done better to spend some of the money in making their online casino look less tacky. The truth is that it is not cool, its just gambling. Person to person, green baize, a cheap drink in your hand as you play into the night, that's cool.

CasinoOnNet is everywhere. Not only that but they are one of the biggest spenders on the internet period. They are in the top 10 revenue advertisers in the world, that's ahead of Microsoft. Clearly they are trying to maintain their position but its inevitable that they too will go down when the market gets into the real war situation. The poor English in their name doesn't help.

The real war is what brings us to the 'last month'. When Gordon Brown removed the betting tax he was signalling the troop march right into the enemy camp, who by the way are still sleeping. And they are the Americans and they are just beginning to wake up. It hasn't gone unnoticed in the U.S that half of all the revenue in Caribbean based internet casinos come from State based Americans, even though it is illegal. The realisation that you can't control the use of the internet will get to them eventually and its got to the state of Nevada already. The state senate is looking to legalise online gambling so that the Mirage, MGM and Harrah's can switch their 'fun' casinos into real money ones. Wasn't that $4million pumped into state political parties in the 2000 election worthwhile!

So to the 'last week'. The South African deregulation in gambling has seen the new Cape Town casino average more than 10,000 customers each day of the first three months and they're up over 15 million quid. Thats way bigger than any European casino. But can it last. Well the latest word from Atlantic City is that the downturn in the U.S is hurting with revenue drops of 6% in the first two months of 2001. So if you are looking for a cheap holiday in Las Vegas, wait a few months, they are going to get a lot cheaper.

Las Vegas is where we began. A curiosity of the last month was the annual conference of the American Philisophical Society in, where else, Las Vegas. They concluded that Las Vegas was indeed a Simulacrum which, if you haven't found the dictionary by now, means a copy of something that is better than the original. So what is Vegas copying? Well Heaven of course. Yes, Las Vegas is the embodiment of Heaven on Earth, only better!