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25/04/2001 No.3
he Good Gambler
The Editor or one of our professional correspondants make regular contributions to coverage of the gambling world.
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Two More Weeks in the World

The current fashion in our world is to talk a lot and do little. These last 14 days have seen a stand off between those who want more regulated gambling, those who want none and those who will say what will get them elected.

Down-under, nothing has yet come of the battle between the political parties over Internet Gambling there. In Nevada they are gearing up to be the first state to legalise online wagering, seeing, as they do, the threat from British sites that can offer "safety" and "quality". They have a long hard struggle against the Feds who are sticking strongly to the notion that the 1961 Wire Act means any inter-state wagering is clearly illegal. In fact our very own Ladbrokes have just felt the long arm of this law as their telephone betting operation in Michigan has been given its closing down orders.

Closer to home, the sad news from Cardiff in Wales is that the Stakis/Ladbrokes/Gala Casino has permanently closed after successive problems including infestations and asbestos. Staff are being relocated and a Card Room is lost. (we think they weren't making any money).

On a better note, Stanleys have opened up the new £5.5 million Cascades casino in Leith, Edinburgh. The giant waterfront venue, the biggest ever built by the gambling and betting giant Stanley Leisure, features 16 tables for blackjack, roulette and stud poker and is seen by them as a template for the British casino of the future. I doubt it, for one thing there's no poker room. It is however a stones throw from The Royal Yacht Britannia which is now stuck there!

The long awaited 2001 WSOP has opened up with some controversy over deductions from the prize pool for staff, though most of the players don't care. Some very typical casino actions have eliminated several dissenting players, a thing Benny wouldn't have done. Its going to be a hard lesson for poker players and the casino alike, one that has already been learnt elsewhere. Firstly, they will hike the tax rate year-on-year as the popularity increases until it over burdens the market. Secondly, rival tournaments will then take over.

This shows a classic difference between the US and Europe. In Europe the emphasis is on added value to attract players and custom, in the U.S its about taking as much as you can until it bleeds to death. This happened in the world of Backgammon, where the strength of the U.S players was overwhelmed by a new breed of Europeans brought up on the Euro-tour. They have since learnt the lesson and begun adding money, doubling tournament attendance in just two years!

And so to a small story about the biggest British gambler of all time. Who? Nick Leeson of course. He was supposed to be running in the London Marathon but managed to get himself arrested for drunk driving in Watford and stuck in jail for the night. Seems like a way of getting out of another bad bet. He is currently studying psychology at Middlesex University. Shouldn't they be studying him.