July 02, 2005
Don't Waste a Minute at the Casino
Posted by Caroline Bradley

The New York Times reports that casinos in Nevada are introducing wireless systems (I.e. not "internet gambling") so that their customers can gamble on handheld devices whenever they feel the need (so long as they are in public areas) and don't waste their time when they are at the pool (some commentators are sceptical about this idea). The NYT article mentions one system originally developed by Cantor Fitgerald for bond traders (another link between financial markets and gambling), but there are a number of competing systems - the wireless gambling story isn't that new, although the idea of wireless gambling in a casino is a bit newer.

Like Christine, I was in Las Vegas for the Law & Society meeting at the beginning of June - I'd never been there before. The problem seemed to me to be that it was very hard to avoid slot machines, and not that people might be in danger of being too far from a slot machine whenever they felt the urge to gamble.

Perhaps my reaction (slot machines are to avoid, not cling to) is due to the fact that gambling in the UK when I was young mostly seemed to be about betting on horses and doing the football (soccer) pools and those strange mark the ball picture competitions in the newspapers (but of course that was supposed to be about skill, not just mere luck). I've never really played cards for money, but I always understood (mostly from watching old movies but also from playing cards when money wasn't involved) that a significant part of playing poker was trying to gauge your opponent's betting strategies. I don't see how this human element translates to the machines.

Ladbrokes in the UK offers a total betting service so people never need to be  deprived of the chance to gamble. One of Ladbrokes' tips about responsible betting is that people should keep track of the time and amount they spend gambling (which might seem to argue for down time at the pool between gambling sessions). But it seems pretty clear that the casinos are really more interested in getting ready to compete in the massive online gaming business than they really are about having people playing poker round the pool.

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