James Leavey's Corner
On-Line Or Off-Line
Life's A Gamble

FORCES - Link to James Leavey's Corner Main Page

On-line or off-line - life's agamble

by James Leavey, editor, The FOREST Guide to Smoking in London
and The FOREST Guide to Smoking in Scotland

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James Leavey

The world’scasinos, aside from those sad non-smoking ones in California, usuallywelcome cigar smokers with open ashtrays, for the gambler who saunters intoa gaming room, smartly dressed and puffing a large Havana, projects an imageof confidence and, not least, the look of someone who has money to lose.

And if you canconvince a casino that you are a high roller, they may well provide you withfree cigarettes and free cigars; winners usually celebrate with the latter,losers with the former.

I have longenjoyed occasional visits to casinos, especially in Las Vegas where, as DeanMartin used to say, “I like to visit my money, from time to time.”  Ratherlike a friend who told me his gambling brought his family together.  He lostthe house and they had to move into one room.

Probably theclassiest place in the world to lose your money is the Monte-Carlo Casino,which has long been a shrine to elegant gaming since it was built in 1863 inthe Principality of Monaco. Everybody who was ever anybody has gambled atthe Monte-Carlo Casino, including several onscreen versions of James Bond,all trying their luck at Trente et quarante, Chemin de fer, Banque à deuxtables, English roulette and, of course, European roulette.

But whatevercasino I am in, I only play for the fun of it. The amount I’m prepared tolose is set, mainly by my wife, who has grown accustomed to eatingregularly.

But would I everbe prepared to gamble without the support of a fine cigar"  Don’t bet onit. 

As for all yousad non-smokers, you can now easily avoid nicotine companions like me, bybetting on-line, or even via your mobile phone. All you then need is acredit card, which can be emptied almost as fast as the click of a button.

Not that this hasdiscouraged a growing army of off-line and on-line gamblers in the UK.  “Adollar won is twice as sweet as a dollar earned,” said Paul Newman in thefilm, The Color of Money. “Easy come, easy go,” is another line he couldhave used.

According to TheCasino Report, published by, the world's number one on-line casinoand poker room, together with Inside Edge magazine, about £15 billion a yearis staked in casinos across the world, on-line and off-line, and there's nosign of gambling fever ever dying down.

London is theluckiest city in the UK  - 8% of gambling Londoners have won up to £5,000 Nearly 20% of gambling Scots have bet up to £500 on a single spin.  And  33%of men in Northern Ireland like going to a casino to meet members of theopposite sex – now that really is a gamble, but then studies have shown thatto be a successful gambler requires a combination of skill, luck and abilityto handle pressure  It's just like getting married.

 Talking aboutthe growing pressure to lose some of your annual bonus on a bet, Ladbrokesrecently announced plans to  launch a casino that allows people to gamblefrom their mobile phones. Games like blackjack and roulette will be playablein real time on mobile phones and other wireless devices, using anapplication called Gamewire developed by Spin3 and Microgaming. The softwareuses a Java interface and offers a selection of six games, including a slotmachine with a roll-over jackpot updated by the minute.  Players canconnect to Ladbrokes via a secure server using SMS or WAP. A four-digit codeunlocks the account and play can begin immediately.

Mobile gaming isexpected to be one of the biggest growth areas in mobile commerce. A reportpublished by Alexander Resources predicted that the worldwide market will beworth £9bn by 2008.  Could it have anything to do with the fact that smokersare no longer welcome in some casinos...

Meanwhile, aaccording to The Casino Report, the nation's favourite casino game is poker,followed by roulette, blackjack., craps. Slots and Keno. As for the secretto winning big at a casino in London, most of the people surveyed  put itdown to a combination of skill and luck (73%), mainly luck (39%),  skill(3%), while the remaining 5% simply didn't have a clue.

Of those gamblersinterviewed about off-line, i.e. traditional, casinos, 39% said they enjoyedthe atmosphere, 37% enjoyed a 'good night out', 22% loved the glamour oflosing money in smart surroundings, 11% made new friends (hopefully, withthe croupier) and the remaining 9% enjoyed watching others play.

44% of on-linegamblers liked the convenience of being able to win or lose at the stroke ofa computer key or the press of a button, 12% were attracted by the 'biggerwinnings', another 12% felt less pressure, 11% valued the anonymity (and nodoubt the fact that if they lost their shirt they were still at home in  thewarm – unless they lost that too), and 7% liked the wide range of games onoffer.

Over a quarter ofthose surveyed tended to use on-line casinos to practise their techniquesbefore visiting an off-line casino. Since 2003, there has been a 566% risein the amount of money staked on-line, and 29% of the British public hasplayed at least one on-line casino game.

According to thesurvey of British gamblers, 18-24 year olds prefer poker; 25-30 year oldsprefer blackjack; and 36-40 year olds prefer roulette.  Presumably, anyoneover 40 prefers to watch everyone else lose, whether they're male or female.

Contrary topopular belief, Britain is apparently a nation of sensible gamblers. 77% ofthose surveyed would not be prepared to gamble their home, car orpossessions for a  large jackpot

Only 1 in 10 ofthe Scots surveyed would consider putting their worldly possessions at riskfor the chance to become a millionaire. 71% of people in the West Midlandswould not gamble any of their possessions if they had the chance to win£500,000, while 25% of residents in Yorkshire would put their car up forgrabs if they could win £125,000

10% of Britishwomen said they would consider gambling their worldly possessions for a $5million jackpot, compared to 16% of men.  Indeed, recent research has shownthat 1 in 10 women like to gamble on-line, especially poker and roulette. 20% of the women surveyed visit a casino more than once a year. 7% of thewomen surveyed have won more than £1,000 on-line. 13% of the women surveyedgo to a casino for the glamour.  And 40% of women like gambling on-line tospare themselves the stress of visiting an off-line casino.

Meanwhile, ifyou're after some serious dosh, ADVFN (Europe's leading stocks and shareswebsite) has over 450,000 registered users - 65% of whom use an on-lineshare dealing service and
68% of whom obtain the majority of their financial information on-line.

On-line SpreadBetting has now become phenomenally popular with users as it is the easiestway for them to short stocks/indiced.  And the beauty is that it's taxexempt.

But however youprefer to gamble, there are plenty of ways to lose, and occasionally win, alot of money.  Just as long as you remain cheerful and enjoy the experience,preferably with your favourite smoke.

As one of TomStoppard's characters said in his play, 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern areDead':  “Life is a gamble at terrible odds – if it was a bet, you wouldn'ttake it.” 


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