Next week the government will announce the foregone conclusion of the Millennium Dome being granted Britain's first super casino licence. It was consequently with a certain degree of interest that I watched last night's Dispatches programme on Channel 4 which clearly exhibited the links between organised crime and the British government with regard to the casino industry.
Although, we wouldn't expect anything other than sleight of hand regarding the positioning of Blair, Prescott and Jowell on this matter, we held out rather more hope with Richard Caborn (the Minister for Gambling). He stands up to Scudamore and the Premier League and it is evident that the man is aware of the multi-layered corruption in the industry sector. Following last night's interview with Antony Barnett, however, we are filing Caborn as yet another Labour MP who has sold out on his principles in return for power.
I have never been in a casino and I have never played any of the online casinos either. Winners are absolutely excluded (try card counting at blackjack!) and none of the gambling tables offer a level playing field. Poker games allow criminal collusion between the house and the dealer and, if necessary, players are placed at hot tables. The use of CCTV allows the casinos to closely monitor anybody who is winning. With online casinos, the possibilities for corruption and manipulated tables is obvious. And, looking at the organisations behind these operations, it is blindly apparent that they have no interest in gaming - they focus on profit full stop. Trump, MGM, Ladbrokes, Stanley, Chandler, 888.com... we are not talking ethical companies here.
On a personal level, the Dispatches programme depressed me. I was the first person in Britain to undertake a PhD in Gambling at the Centre for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming (CSGCG) at Salford University (a minor triumph, I admit) and seeing the current head of this operation (Prof Collins) slime his way through his interview was a timely reminder of who funds the CSGCG. The betting and casino industry...