South Australia's finest struck last week to shut down a poker tournament being conducted at a local licensed club. Over in London they prepared the flotation of a company that hosts on the internet a billion poker games a year. A wonderful contrast and an example of how the world is changing faster than some national law enforcers.
The Adelaide police huffed and puffed about poker not being a game of skill and hence an illegal activity. Their job was to ensure that the only gambling going on in the City of Churches was gambling condoned by government. Hence the amazing scenes of a platoon in blue storming in to take down the names of those bold enough to have paid an entrance fee so they could compete for the title of champion.
Meanwhile, sitting at home in front of their computer screens, there were goodness knows how many South Australians betting dollars on hands with like minded souls around the world. Plenty of them I would guess because playing poker on the net is now a major past time. The Economist magazine recently reported that the listing of 23% of PartyGaming shares on the London Stock Exchange was expected to give the firm a market capitalisation of at least $US18 billion. That will make it one of the 100 biggest firms in Britain.
Australian Governments, desperately clinging to gambling as a major revenue source, appear unaware of the changes that the internet is bringing. For it is not only internet poker sites that are booming. There are sports books and casinos aplenty and a growing number of horse race punters have now discovered that the Betfair betting exchange (the English site Glug uses to calculate most of its Election Indicators) now operates on Australian races and that having up to 5% deducted from winnings beats the hell out of the 14% deducted by the TABs.