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09/04/2001 No.2
he Good Gambler
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Two Weeks in the World

A word of continuity with last time, Vegas is seeing a big drop in room bookings right now. Inevitably that's going to translate into cheaper trips for us customers. The key phrases are 'haggle on the phone' and 'shop around'.

But back at home, the original Mecca is having troubles of its own. Monaco has gotten into a big brawl with big sister, France. Prince Rainnier III himself, latest in the seven centuries of Grimaldi family monarchs, has been making strong comments to the effect that his square mile of rock should at last become an independent EU state. Monaco joined the U.N. in 1993 in a show of independence which upset the French government.

Coupled with their long held grudge over the tax laws in Monaco, the French government has been looking at ways of diverting attention from their endless financial scandals implicating public figures like the current President Chirac and the family of the last one, Mitterrand. For whatever reason, the Finance and Justice ministries conducted investigations and found $43 billion in accounts of suspicious origin. The Prince replied that Chirac 'was jealous of a well run state'.

The jury is out, but the little state is playing a big hand of poker. If it ever gets EU status, those wishy-washy money laundering laws will have to go.

On down to Australia where politics and gambling are the same thing. Ruling Democrats are struggling to pass a bill to ban Internet gambling for Australians, but not for overseas gamblers who want to punt on Aussie sites. Australian citizens will however be able to legally gamble on foreign sites, something critically opposed by the Labor party who say gambling is an Australian business. The debate is set to heat up as the one year ban on Internet gambling is lifted on May 18, 2001.

Back to Vegas and the fastest growing city in the U.S, 83% from 1990 to 2000, is beginning to feel the pain of its size. Whilst desperate to attract industries other than gambling, the city council looked the other way when it came to regulating emissions. Now the heat haze is turning a yellow brown and lingering all through the hottest days.

A more immediate problem is the gang war in North Las Vegas, a poor suburb with 20% unemployment. In one month 8 people have been killed over drug territory, a church deacon and a teenage girl being innocent bystanders.

Vegas wouldn't be Vegas though without bizarre stories and last week a man was killed by a Tiger. He was grooming the 7-year old Bengal tiger when it turned on him and bit his neck. Boxer David Tua, who lost a heavyweight title fight with Lennox Lewis last year, rushed from his training facility next door but could not save the man. The tiger is in quarantine.

Finally on U.K shores,, Ireland's biggest bookmaker, got into trouble after running a poster add with odds on which of two zimmer-frame using OAPs would get run down first. Their posters were defaced but the company defended their campaign as "fun". Also on the Net,, a site for people to exchange wagers, went the way of just a few months ago. It closed citing technical problems but customers got cheques in the post for their account balances.