Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Highs and Lows of Gambling

On the one hand, there's a story of a Canadian guy who won $5.7mil playing a 'Megabucks' Slot Machine at the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort - thats the largest ever win on a slot in Canadian History. The progressive linked machines begin at $1 million and have now been reset

On the other hand, there's the hardluck story of a punter in Newcastle who would have picked up a near £1 million cheque for an accumulator win had a horse not been disqualified by the stewards. Babodana was disqualified and the win was handed to Little Indian at Newmarket on Saturday.

Once again, a punter is let down by horse-racing. I'm not saying stewards should not have a hand in results - especially if there's been an infringement, but there is simply no comeback for the bettors in this situation.

Conversely, progressive slots with jackpot wins of £1 million+ are the bread and butter of casinos around the world - and are what are rumoured to be making their way to the UK if the gambling bill goes through as is. It will be interesting to see if they still go through


Lara Croft Slot Machine Goes Online

Possibily one of the first officially licensed character-branded slots has hit the web as 32Red Casino launch a Tomb Raider Slot Machine featuring virtual pinup and computer games character 'Lara Croft'. And with Patsy Kensit already on board over at 32Red - its getting to be a bit of a babe paradise over there.

Market Leading Casino software provider, Microgaming is behind the game

Its quite common for land-based fruit machines or slots to use licensed brands to promote their games - especially in pubs and Vegas casinos, but as the online slot machine space heats up, its definitely an interesting move by Microgaming and its operators to try to take this trend online

The game itself is a standard US-style 5-reel video slot with 15 paylines including scatters, wilds and bonus trigger symbols.

For us Brits who are clueless about US-style slots, its translated as follows:
- 'Wilds' substitute for other symbols (except scatter or bonus symbols)
- 'Scatters' will pay on anyline regardless of whether the line is 'active' - and in this game will offer Free Games and triple winnings
- 'Bonus Symbols' on an active payline will trigger a bonus feature which will give out bonus rewards.
- An 'Active Payline' is basically which lines the player chooses to play on each game (up to a maximum 15 lines in this game)

The game itself has a jackpot of £37,500 which can be trebled during the game

32Red Casino have also launched a competition to coincide with the release with a £500 first prize

With the potential of US-style jackpots coming over to the UK due to the forthcoming gambling bill there will no doubt be a scramble to offer these multi-line 5-reel video slots to the UK land-based market. But in the meantime it'll be interesting to see whether this licensing trend continues online by other operators and if it really makes a difference to the player.

Links:
32Red Casino
32Red Casino Review


Friday, October 29, 2004

Victor Chandler Rebrands

Victor Chandler has decided to rebrand its entire product range into one single brand image.

They claim the rationale behind the new identity is to 'look forward'

In the past, Chandlers have releases a whole host of gaming sites from betting to games to casinos without much cohesion between any of them.
"The Spin Room" is probably the most obvious example - its twee minimal casino was as far away from Chandlers bookie roots as possible.

The Spin Room is still available, but its new flagship casino will be called VCCasino.com to coincide with VCPoker and other VC-related brands

The new image is white on black with a new 'V' logo. Its clean and modern, but whether it makes a difference to their player base I doubt it - at least it cleans up what essentially was a haphazard route into online gaming


Thursday, October 28, 2004

SportingBet.com Buys Paradise Poker for £163million

Sportingbet hits jackpot with poker purchase

Just when you thought all the big internet deals were yesterday's news, Sportingbet.com has just announced it will be buying Paradise Poker for £163 million - this will make Sportingbet the largest online gaming company in the world - if it wasn't already that.

Unlike most gaming companies in the UK, SportingBet happily takes bets from the US. It currently has over 1.2 million registered customers following a number of high profile acquisitions.

Paradise Poker started in 1999 and is currently number 3 in the market. It currently has 97,000 active players (79% US players) and over 700,000 registered customers. It has an operating profit of $37 million

Nostalgia time - I remember when Paradise Poker was some tiny poker site in a market of about 3 and worth less than an online gardening website...*still banging my head against a wall*

Links:
SportingBet Company Announcement


Chelsea Players go on a Betting Frenzy

Have we got cash to burn? You bet!

Chelsea players John Terry, Wayne Bridge, Scott Parker and Eidur Gudjohnsen have joined the ranks of footballing high rollers according to The Sun

Its not the most surprising news of all time as the players allegedly spend up to £40,000 a week at Corals - of course, the Sun estimate that in total this would amount to £2 milllion a year.

It seems the boys are into betting on the dogs - not quite the most glamourous form of gambling - but they also play on the FOBT roulette machines

Does anyone really care?


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

US Presidential Election - Kerry vs Bush - Updated Odds

With the polls slightly edging in Bush's favour over the last few days - despite being neck and neck since the debates, the odds have moved to make Bush clear favourite to retain the presidency on November 2.
However, the polls are have a large statistical error and the push towards Bush could be misleading.
Follow the excellent BBC's poll tracker to see whats going on

William Hill now has Bush as odds on 4/6 favourite with Kerry at 11/10


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Poker Players - Meet the Geeks

Geek News website Slashdot offers a great debate as to whether techie geeks could play poker better than the average person.

As ever there's a mix of classic quotes and pure geekdom as techies come out in their droves to discuss whether the current explosion of online poker is merely a fad or here to stay and whether the analytical mind makes the difference

To quote some of the more amusing moments of the continuing debate:

"A geek can play above average in a poker game against computer because he can easily read the machine facial expressions"

"Poker, the pet rock of sports entertainment... But for what it's worth, poker does have about the same amount of excitement as any other sporting event. It's a whole lotta nothing followed by 20 seconds of excitement"

"I think poker is as much of a fad as professional wrestling"

and of course the million dollar question to all those who complain its a fad

" Does it irritate you because you don't like to play poker, or because you were playing it before it was "cool?"


Monday, October 25, 2004

UK Gambling Bill - Update

If you're like me, trying to avoid any mention of the gambling bill until it goes through or otherwise, well, you may as well give up.
And I guess, since the whole point of this blog is UK Gambling and the gambling industry, I shouldn't really ignore it - maybe i'll take an extended nap until things calm down

so here's a quick look at what we've all missed in the last few days

"A Whiff of Snobbery"
Gamblog comments on the childish name-calling within politics as Tessa Jowell calls those who are anti-gambling, snobs during her defense of the gambling bill

Whilst over in the GuardianTony Blair claims the Bill will protect children through improved regulation

Meanwhile, over at the batcave, the Tories state that they will be opposing the gambling bill when it gets its second reading on November 1

And finally, another storm is brewing with our friends across the pond as the American Gaming Association claim they have agreed tax cuts in exchange for mass investment. Our government of course deny this.

I feel like putting my fingers in my ears, closing my eyes and shouting. But that would make me sound like a politician. So I won't.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Baseball World Series Begins Tonight

The Baseball World Series begins in the US tonight as one of the most famous teams in baseball, the Boston Red Sox, take on the St Louis Cardinals at Boston's own Fenway Park - or what they affectionately call "America's Most Beloved Ballpark"

The Red Sox, despite their reputation, haven't won a world series since 1918, are playing against a team that thwarted their efforts in both the 1946 and 1967 Fall Classic. However, Boston shocked the New York Yankees to win the AL championship series on Thursday by overturning a 0-3 deficit with 4 wins on the trot with a win in game 7 in the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium

Bet 365 make the Red Sox favourites to win the Series at 50/71 with the Cardinals at a more tempting 61/50

Links:
- Yahoo's Coverage of the MLB World Series
- MLB Official Site
- Boston Red Sox Official Site
- St Louis Cardinals Official Site


Man Utd v Arsenal - Biggest Game of the Season?

£7m bets spree on game

Of all the teams Arsenal could dream of facing for their potential 50th unbeaten game, it was of course always going to be Man Utd. And what is clearly the biggest game of the season so far, despite the 11 point gap, its also going to be one of the biggest betting contests ever on one football match - with over £7 millon gambled - possibly rising to £10 million.

Not only will the betting be huge, but Sky are expecting 3 million viewers to tune in to watch it in the UK alone

Perhaps surprisingly, Man Utd have been put in as 6/4 favourites - despite having a lacklustre season so far.

Bet 365 have Henry and Van Nistelrooy as joint favourites to score first at 4/1 with wunderkid, Rooney at 11/2 and Arsenal's Reyes at a tempting 13/2.

And because of the interest in the game, the betting events are getting stranger by the minute - Bet 365 offer a slew of match specials including:

Arsenal to miss a penalty - 20/1
Man Utd to score a penalty - 13/2
Henry to score a hatrick - 16/1
Man Utd to win from behind - 10/1

All odds taken from Bet 365


Friday, October 22, 2004

When Research and Online Gambling Collide

Online gambling attracts surfers

Everywhere I look nowadays, there's top ten lists - and it seems gambling is no stranger to this list phenomenon especially when hidden in the guise of 'research'.

It seems hitherto respected research agency, Nielson/NetRating have published a survey that claims that over 4 million Brits are REGULAR internet gamblers.

[In the world of gambling, a regular gambler is traditionally viewed as someone who has placed a bet in the last 6 (or sometimes 12) months. However, since I haven't found a definition from Nielson/NetRatings, i'll move on]

Nielson/NetRatings also suggests that the more money is spent on advertising, the more popular the site is - suggesting ads work. I'd be interested to see how that correlates to actual profit made.

The research then goes on to publish the top ten gambling sites in the UK. And this is where it gets interesting.

This is the list:
The National Lottery
Casino Tropez
ChooseaPrize
Ladbrokes
Casino-and-games.com
Casino.co.uk
The Daily Draw
Vernons
Loopy Lotto
William Hill

Now, I'll grant them The National Lottery and I'll give them Ladbrokes and William Hill as a bonus.

Lets now look at the remaining 7 sites closely. Anything missing here? hmmm. Far be it for me to question this research, but the exclusion of sites such as Betfair, 888.com (Casino-on-Net), Coral, ANY Poker room and a whole slew of sites that i've actually heard of, makes this list hard to swallow. In addition, the addition of sites such as Casino Tropez (who?), affiliate directory Casino-and-games (who?) and FREE sites Choose a Prize, The Daily Draw and Loopy Lotto -that are not, in any way, gambling sites, appears to make this research dubious at the very least. As for dearest Vernons - well done old boys - a football pools site is bigger than all the UK betting exchanges, most of the UK bookies, most known online casinos and every poker site.

Over to you Neilson/NetRatings.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Gambling Bill Published Today

So the UK Gambling Bill finally got published today after years of drafts and months of speculation and as expected there's been a barrage of opinion and anger - no less from the Daily Mail's laughable 'kill the casino bill' reaction.

Gambling law in the UK dates back nearly 40 years and whilst some of the new bill may not please some parties, the update was a necessity, as Tessa Jowell states:

".. it's not just attitudes that have changed since then. The technological revolution has touched all our lives and the gambling industry is no exception."

The Internet and technology aspect of the bill touches on age verification and player limits, whilst overall the most controversial issues include new slot machine categorisation that allows for huge jackpots in 'vegas-style' casinos only

Thousands of lines of editorial will no doubt be written over the next few months on the dangers of the new bill.

I'm snoozing just thinking about it.

Links:
- DCMS - Gambling and Racing
- Minister defends gambling bill
- Gambling Bill Is 'Recipe for Disaster'
- A bit of a gamble?


Monday, October 18, 2004

The X Factor - Now it Gets Serious - Latest Odds

OK - we've got past all the auditions and the boot camp - we're now onto the all-important live shows and voting for the 'not-quite-addictive but its still a great betting heat' - ITV's 'The X-Factor'

To put it simply - X-factor is split into 3 groups - 16-25, 25+ and groups. Each group is split between the 3 judges (Mr Cowell has the 25+ group). There can be a winner from each of the 3 groups and one overall winner. Got it? Good.

Favourite for the overall contest is the huge-mouthed emotional nightmare, Rowetta at 3/1 followed by sold-out rocker, Tabby at 4/1. Favourite for the groups is operatic barber shop quartet G4

Lates Odds (Taken from William Hill

Total Outright:
Rowetta Stachell 3/1
Tabby Callaghan 4/1
G4 9/2
Steve Brookstein 7/1
Roberta Howett 7/1
2 To Go 8/1
Cassie Compton 9/1
Voices With Soul 10/1
Verity Keays 14/1

16-25 To Win
Tabby Callaghan 11/8
Roberta Howett 7/4
Cassie Compton 2/1

25+ To Win
Rowetta Stachell 5/4
Steve Brookstein 7/4
Verity Keays 9/4

Groups to Win
G4 1/1
2 To Go 2/1
Voices With Soul 12/5

Manager to Win
Simon Cowell 5/4
Sharon Osbourne 15/8
Louis Walsh 2/1

Bet Now at William Hill


Friday, October 15, 2004

Stand Up and Cheer - Lets Kill the Casino Bill

"The founding fathers of socialism must be spinning in their graves" Front Page of the Daily Mail - 15/10/04

Once again, the delicate and softly spoken rag, The Daily Mail, speaks up for their readers and today begins their campaign to try to 'Kill the Casino Bill'. Along with a series of scaremongering stories of addiction, the Daily Mail prompts us to write to Government Minister, Tessa Jowell, to abandon moves to pass the Casino bill that has been moved forward so to be included in this years Queen's Speech.

Naturally, they fail to recognise that the bill is trying to modernise an archaic bill, which, among other things, includes more control for the protection of children. It has the potential of bringing in jobs and resurrecting a tourist industry. It will regulate an interactive industry that currently needs to go offshore.

However, if this strangles the bill by changing things on a whim to make certain people happy, as happened in Australia, no-one will win either way and it will cause more problems then not. If this kills the bill and US money essentially is denied, i'm sure there'll be a lot of UK companies happy with the status quo.

I think it should also be noted, that this bastion of all that is good in our society is also happily promoting their own casino off the front page of their website. Not only that, if you put a search in their own search box for terms such as 'gambling' or 'casino' you will be prompted to visit a number of "devil-run" online casino that are based offshore simply because the UK haven't yet regulated the gambling industry.

Its all rather amusing and and could help or hinder the casino bill - naturally we'll find out some more horror stories over the coming weeks - so can we all stand up and thank the Daily Mail for their help in furthering the cause.

Thank You Daily Mail

More Links:
- Kill the Casino Bill


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Blackjack Card Counting for the Masses

Making Millions the Easy Way

If poker be the new football, the media are still looking for ways to open up the secrets of gambling to the mass public and card counting in blackjack seems to be the current trendsetter.

This all stems from the popularity of the story of the MIT Blackjack Club - made famous by Ben Mezrich's highly readable book "Bringing Down the House"

Tonight the BBC's Horizon programme looked at the history of card counting - and the steps the casino's took to combat the new mathematical ideas that were taking them for millions - as well as how the MIT Club and the offshoot, the Amphibians, took shape and then started to fall apart with the involvement of detectives, The Griffin Agency and writers of the notorious "The Griffin Book"

The History Channel also took on this subject in a 2 hour documentary about the MIT Club. In it, blackjack card counter Semyan Dukach and club founder, the elusive, Mr M, discusses the evolution of the club and their successes and ultimate downfall as a group of MIT students and investors took the casino world by storm, consequently getting banned from these same casinos

Even Hollywood is getting involved, with Kevin Spacey planning to commit the story to film

Despite the fact that casinos are finding new ways to stop this practice - including barring those they suspect to card count (which, as private companies, they are allowed to do) and hiring detectives to spot these players, it seems the media is trying their hardest to teach the masses the mysteries (and potential fun!) of card counting.

More Links:
- Semyon Dukach's Blackjack Science
- Card Counting Software
- Blackjack Stats
- Blackjack Guide and Strategy
- Wired's Account of the MIT Club


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Azerbaijan v England - First Player to Score - Latest Odds

With England being a restrictive 1/6 outright favourite to win tonight against Azerbaijan, you'll get better value looking at alternative bets - with England throwing up midfielders as their goalscorers, the player to score option could offer some value

Bet365 offer First, Last and Anytime Player To Score Options

Here's the Bet365 First Player to Score odds:

Michael Owen 11/4
Wayne Rooney 11/4
Jermain Defoe 7/2
Alan Smith 4/1
Darius Vassell 11/2
Frank Lampard 7/1
Shaun Wright-Phillips 9/1
Joe Cole 10/1

Bet Now


Beckham Apologises for Saying He Was Clever

Beckham has apologised for his ridiculous admission about fouling to deliverately receive a yellow card in last weeks game against Wales.

His reason for doing this in the first place? To prove to people he really is a clever chap..

Well, now the storm that was always going to break out over his mumblings means he has had to quickly issue a formal apology.

The Sun - always one to take kindly to these gaffes, have published their own Encylopaedia Beckhamica for our amusement

Naturally, The Telegraph who published the original article, tries to be less accusational - indeed championing Beckham's honesty and proving that its not the first time footballers manipulate the system.

This maybe true - but its probably the first time a footballer's actually admitted it


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

So Are We Or Are We Not A Nation Of Gamblers?

I go away for a couple of weeks only to find that in the meantime we're in a grip of a gambling frenzy - or so says the delicately spoken Daily Mail last week.

Apparantly, the amount gambled in the UK has 'rocketed' from a paltry £7.6 billion to almost £40 billion in just 3 years.

And of course, this is largely attributed to the rise of online betting and the abolishment of tax on individual bets.

One of the partners in the company that compiled this new report rallies the UK industry and suggests these figures
"..really does underline its potential to become the genuine global betting market leader"

However, just a few days later and reality hits the ground hard, as the Guardian suggests things aren't quite so globally high flying for the UK.

The Guardian partially lays blame at the advent of the National Lottery 10 years ago that was really a rallying cry to the fortunes of gambling but calmly concludes we're not quite as bad as some out there.

If we are truly looking for a nation of 'crazy gamblers' we need to look at Hong Kong where £5 billion was gambled on just 700 horse races - thats £7 million per race. To put that into perspective - thats about £1 gambled per person per race in Hong Kong. If that happened in the UK, for our annual 9000 races per year, if each person spent £1 per person per race, our betting turnover on just horseracing would be £500 billion - compared to our current 'paltry' £40 billion total betting turnover

The Guardian article goes on to attribute the rise in turnover to FOBTs - roulette terminals that have taken the industry by storm and currently accounts for nearly half of the off-course gambling industry

Ultimately, the hyperbole that these reports bring is merely that - hyperbole. Gambling in the UK clearly has increased as should be expected with the advent of new platforms such as the internet - simply making it easier for people to place a bet. What is of more interest is if these figures continue to rise at such a rate over the next 5 or 10 years


Monday, October 11, 2004

Superman Christopher Reeve dies

Actor Christopher Reeve dies

OK - I'm back from me hols, and whilst I'm getting settled back in, thought i'd report on the untimely death of Superman - or Christopher Reeve, who was, in my opinion, the best Superman.

I think a viewing of Superman 1 and 2 is in order for everyone - we can quietly forget about 3 and 4...


Monday, October 04, 2004

ok - a small time-out here

i´m just off taking a small intermission - definitely not abandoning the blog -
normal transmission will resume shortly - and for all those in vegas right now at the G2E - enjoy!