Numbers stacked against the punters

The Gambling Commission is the publicly funded quango that is supposed to keep an eye on everything to do with the gambling industry. In part I suspect it was set up to ensure that the Government keeps it take of however much cash is being wagered, but it is also there to try to bring some kind of regulation and order to the industry.

Buried away on its website is a document called the casino take which reveals how much money is wagered at the casino tables by gamblers and how much is kept hold of by the house. The latest figures [Drop-and-win-summary-report-1] show that £7.1billion was gambled at casinos last year with £847 being held on to by the house, or lost by the punter – depending on which way you want to look at it. It means that for every £100 gambled at a casino the punter will end up with just £88 left in their pocket.

What is most depressing is the Gambling Commission’s rules of casino which states what games are allowed, how they should be run and what are the minimum odds that should be paid. One game that I have never heard of before, but which I do not intend to play is called Roulette Rage and is when you bet on the same colour coming up again and again.

According to the rules (see 3.31 on page 11) [rules of casino games in great britain – june 2011] the house has to pay 4 to 1 for bets of four consecutive colours the same. As most people will know the true odds of this happening are 2x2x2x2, which is 16 to 1 – making it a pretty same bet for the house. But look at the odds for a same colour coming up ten times in a row – just 100 to 1. My calculations are the true odds of this are 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2 or 2 to the power 10, which works out at 1,204 to one. So we know who the odds are stacked against, despite the help of a gambling watchdog, and this probably goes someway to explain why casino owners tend not to have children on free school meals.

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