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GAMBLING

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YOU CANNOT BEAT THE HOUSE

Firstly, the one thing that everybody should realise is that nobody is ever forced to gamble. Gambling is not a physical addiction like smoking tobacco or taking heroin or cocaine. Nobody is ever dragged out of bed at gunpoint, made to get dressed and frogmarched to the casino, club, hotel, bookmaker or TAB and forced to lay bets or to play any of the machines. Gambling is a completely voluntary activity and the important aspect to understand is that most gamblers are generally motivated by greed - they wager their money in the hope of making more without having to work for it. Gambling can be a mental addiction, aided by compulsive behavioural syndromes.

Gambling is not a disease, despite some stupid fools trying to excuse the problems of gamblers by inferring that people become punters because they have somehow been infected by the mythical gambling bug. Of course there are always psychologists, doctors, counsellors and other social workers who will blame the casinos and other gambling venues for the woes of problem gamblers, but they are all wrong. Of course there are a small handful of people with mental disorders that lead them to loss of control, but the great majority of problem gamblers know exactly what they are doing, which is trying to make a fast buck. This is the entire principle behind most gambling - that the punter believes that the big win is always around the corner.

ON-LINE BETTING

In the era of the Internet, many betting organisations have sprung up to entice mugs into parting with their money. But these gambling organisations ensure that they will always win, as was revealed in an internal document from Tabcorp called "Fixed Odds Liability" that proved beyond doubt how the betting industry is rigged against punters.

In the document, Tabcorp identified two types of customers: "genuine customers" - code for losers - and "individual customers who are not commercially viable" - code for winners. Tabcorp's advice to outlets is to get rid of fixed-odds winners as customers by "liability management" and focus on servicing the losers. "By helping to identify the individual customers who are not commercially viable, you can prevent your whole venue from being managed," the document says. By "managed", Tabcorp means managed by head office. At present 100 of 2600 TABs are being managed.

This is how it works and it is all too simple. it is obvious that the online betting companies want to take bets only from losers. Fixed-odds punters who win, even those who bet in small amounts, either have their bet sizes curtailed or their accounts frozen altogether. One such punter revealed that he had had his accounts closed or severely restricted by all of the five top online bookmakers in the Northern Territory: Luxbet, Sportingbet, Sportsbet, Centrebet and Bet365.

He stated that restrictions were as good as a closure, as the bookies no longer offered a fixed-price service. The point of difference to the TAB and its totalisator system is they offer fixed prices to their clients. "The odds are locked in at the time of placing the bet, whereas the TAB totalisator system is a pool of money that is distributed by weight of money for a particular result. So, by not allowing you to bet fixed price with them, these bookies are effectively closing your account as well," he said.

Although they are loath to publicise their business model of deliberately targeting losing gamblers, many of whom are addicts, one can assume that online bookmakers would wish to avoid taking on customers who will beat them. It's not a charity, but predatory targeting of losers is just unfair. Before the advent of online bookies, on-course bookmakers were required to offer minimum fixed-price odds. One punter demanded that on-line wagering companies should be forced to carry a prominent disclaimer stating that winning gamblers are not welcome, but only losers should apply.

The TAB's "expanded risk management", as the Tabcorp document labels it, arose as successful punters who used to bet online with the TAB started going direct to the TAB agencies and betting cash after the TAB site began shutting them down. The policy of centralised management was introduced, once these punters started winning too much.

So the truth is that if an on-line punter starts winning consistently, he will either have his betting severely curtailed to the point of becoming irrelevant or be completely frozen out by the on-line bookmaker. But even though this is a despicable practice, it is hard to feel sorry for gamblers who risk their money purely out of greed, to try and literally get money for nothing. Of course with on-line betting, the usual system applies that the odds are against them anyway, but if they happen to be successful, they will be dumped by the on-line wagering company. In other words, they can't win.

Bookmakers licensed by the Northern Territory government are turning over close to $6 billion annually, with conservative profit estimates of $400 million. So mug punters are risking $6 billion every year just with those Northern Territory bookies and that just shows how many fools there are and why every second TV commercial seems to be advertising an on-line bookmaker. Nobody knows how much money is wagered with on-line offshore casinos, but it would be a massive amount every year. And many of those unregulated foreign on-line casinos have been found to be dishonest by rigging their games. A fool and his money are soon parted, especially with on-line wagering companies who have rigged it so that they can never lose.

BEATING GOVERNMENT ON-LINE GAMBLING RESTRICTIONS

In 2014, Australian federal and state governments announced a crackdown on what they call illegal on-line gambling by punters laying bets with off-shore betting companies. There are already Australian-headquartered organisations that are operating in this way by basing their betting operations in unregulated international jurisdictions, including in the Pacific and Asia regions. There are also significant numbers of offshore operators targeting Australian racing and sport and Australian governments want to impose a regulatory regime to address the revenue risks that they pose. Recommendations made include requiring local internet service providers to block access to foreign bookmakers.

The governments say that off-shore betting is illegal, but this is a blatant lie. These off-shore bookmakers are outside of Australian jurisdiction and their operations are obviously legal in the nations from which they operate. They are quite free to target Australian punters and the government cannot do a thing about it. Not only that, it is the Australian punters who initiate the on-line gambling and on-line bookmakers are quite free to accept those bets. As for governments forcing Australian ISPs to block access to foreign bookmakers, that is laughable and typical of.those idiots who have tried for so many years to block various websites, such as those offering pornography, with absolutely no success whatsoever.

Anybody who wishes to lay bets with off-shore bookmakers can easily bypass any restrictions and ISP blocking by using an anonymising browser or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and neither the government or the ISP will be the wiser as to what traffic passes through such a portal. There are many ways for punters to circumvent any blocking and in any case, they should be free to lay bets with whoever they choose, if they are so stupid as to gamble. It is only the loss of revenue from taxing the gambling industry that is driving governments to try and stop off-shore gambling by Australians and it is doomed to failure.

CASINOS

Casinos never go broke and that should be an indicator of the futility of gambling. All the games at casinos are skewed in a way that in the long term, the casino will always win. Sure, there are some big winners, but casinos love them and will publicise their massive wins, because this brings the suckers in even more. But in the long term, even if a casino pays out 95% of its takings in winnings, it still keeps 5%. so over time, players will eventually lose, unless they have the self-discipline to walk out when they do win more than they have bet. However, with most small punters, this does not happen and they keep playing until they go broke, because they live in hope that the next bet will produce the big win - but seldom does this happen.

POKER MACHINES

Poker machines are for idiots. A punter will keep feeding money into a poker machine, hoping to get the big jackpot, but knowing that the odds of actually getting it is over one million to one. This warning is even printed on each poker machine in NSW. The highest poker machine payout in NSW is $10,000 and the minimum payout in the long term is 85%. So for every $100 that punters put into poker machines, they will lose about $15 on average. Anybody can see that playing these devices is a mug's game. But people will sit in front of these machines for hours at a time in the hope of winning a fortune - but never do.

The problem with poker machines is that of diminishing returns. For instance, if a player is gambling $1 per spin for a maximum prize of $10,000, on the first dollar coin, he is really playing for 10,000 to 1 odds, despite the fact that the real odds of winning the jackpot are over 1 million to 1. But if he doesn't immediately win the jackpot, on the second dollar, he is only playing for 5,000 to 1 odds and after 10 coins, he's playing for 1,000 to 1 odds for that 1 million to 1 jackpot.

It is not uncommon to see a player spending $100 or more in the one machine, but if he does that and still has not won a jackpot, his odds have reduced to 100 to 1, but the odds of winning the major jackpot still remain at over 1 million to 1. So playing the poker machines is an exercise in futility and the only winner is the premises that has those machines installed and the government that rakes off enormous taxes from them.

HORSE RACING

There are many legendary punters who have made a comfortable living from gambling on horses. They are not the average fools who go to the track or TAB and lay relatively small bets and invariably lose. Professional horse punters might sit at home all the time and study form guides, weather patterns and best of all, get insider tips from jockeys and trainers and then possibly only lay one huge bet on one horse in a week - but in many cases, that horse will win, because the professional punter has done the one thing that gives him an advantage - he has reduced the odds of him losing by applying hard knowledge and treating his activity as a hard-nosed business.

However, the typical mug punter will glance at the form guide, read somebody's suggestions or listen to a tip from another mug punter and then go to the track and lay bets with a bookmaker or place bets at the TAB. The knowledge that a bookmaker has regarding the odds of a horse winning determines what he offers the punter, but at least the odds remain the same on a particular bet, even if the odds on the horse that is bet on become much shorter.

The TAB is a different story and is a real mug's game. When a punter places a bet with the TAB, the odds are calculated on the total number of bets placed and the amount. Therefore, the punter will always be on a losing streak, as the amount of money he bets remains the same, but the return can vastly diminish if more punters bet on the same horse. No really savvy punter will waste his time betting with the TAB.

LOTTERIES

The odds of winning a lottery are simply staggering. The rakeoffs to lottery operators and the government are massive, which means that even if a person bought every ticket in a lottery and won every prize, he would still lose a massive amount of money. The higher the odds in a lottery, the less chance of winning a prize. Sure, the outlay is very small compared to the top prize, but the chances of winning that top prize are infinitesimal. People buy lottery tickets for one reason only - greed. They dream of making a fortune without having to work for it and that's all that lotteries are about.

The odds of winning the major prize

Lotteries are certainly not a good way of gambling, because there is no way to predict an outcome. At least with blackjack, a good player gets to choose the cards he flips. A good horse-racing punter gets to study the various factors such as the track conditions, the previous record of the horse and the current odds and can make a type of informed decision on which horse to bet. But like poker machines, lotteries don't provide any of that because the numbers are randomly selected by machines and despite what some people think, there is absolutely no pattern of previously selected numbers that can give any insight as to which numbers will be selected the next time. The only thing about lotteries is that they can be played occasionally for fun, but without any expectation of winning.

GAMBLING IS A MUG'S GAME

There is literally only one form of gambling where a punter has an even chance and that is on the toss of a coin. All other forms of institutionalised gambling, such as casinos, poker machines, Keno, horse-racing and lotteries are skewed away from the player. Gambling is all right if punters play within their means and understand that the odds of them winning in the long term is zero. A couple of dollars in a poker machine doesn't hurt and neither does buying the occasional lottery ticket. But if doing this becomes an obsession, then lives are easily destroyed.

But one always has to keep in mind that gambling problems are not the fault of casinos and other gambling facilities. Nobody is forced to gamble. Those who gamble do so because of greed - the prospect of making money without working for it. So if people are stupid enough to lose their wages every week on poker machines, horse-racing or any other form of gambling, then it's nobody else's fault except their own.

Every person is totally responsible for his actions and cannot blame other factors, such as temptation. Banning various forms of gambling or trying to mitigate losses never works, because people who want to gamble will always find a way. These people are very rightly called mug punters and are invariably poor.