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November-29-2004,
Offshore gambling and the morality of it all...By Russ Hawkins

Offshore gambling and the morality of it all By Russ Hawkins, President of MajorWager.com

The last few days have been very tumultuous at MajorWager. A situation has arisen wherein a player negotiated with a Sportsbook to accept a lesser amount of his winnings in return for a payout type that was not acceptable by the Sportsbook, as per their stated rules. The issue at hand was not whether or not the Sportsbook was acting ethically in agreeing to a reduced payout but rather, is an agreement entered into, between two parties of sound mind, still binding?

Few, but some, of the readers have been unable to distinguish between these two theories, which posses a very serious problem. When given basic facts, it is the responsibility of readers to use those facts in arriving at a conclusion, not moral and ethical debates. The overwhelming majority of readers did handle the situation well by compartmentalizing what occurred, separating the facts from the fiction and deciding based purely on the facts. One prominent poster summarized the case very well and I will use his prose as I could not express it any better, myself.

.But the question before us is not "how to best run a Sportsbook,. or .what earns our trust,. or .what behavior do we seek in a book. The question is, .should deals voluntarily entered be renegotiable due to forum pressure...

This poster in fact took the process even further by not reading the available recorded chat session between the player and the Sportsbook as the material facts in the case were never in question thus anything else would be irrelevant.

MajorWager, along with the president and CEO of the Sportsbook, decided the most practical course of action in this situation was to have a public vote with only long time MajorWager readers being the jury. What could be fairer? Here we have a player coming to the forums trying to cyber extort a book into revisiting a previously accepted deal. What better course of action but to allow the readers he wanted help from in the first place to decide his fate? I cannot think of one. The vote is not yet over but the voice of reason, not emotion, seems very prevalent in the current vote count.

Even though that I have tried to be rather bullish on the premise that the issue is not about morality or ethics per se. It must be addressed. I don.t think any clear thinking person could justify the fee structure that the Sportsbook set up for this player. I also think the Sportsbook will have to re-think how it structures future .side arrangements.. The one thing that I do know about the book is that it is constantly trying to improve. It has picked itself up from some very dire straights and if it continues on its current path will one day become an industry leader, as it was a few short years ago. Bad management and poorly trained staff can be accumulated very rapidly. It is the cleansing process that seems to take time and I believe that this company is well on their way to a complete recovery. Naturally there will be bumps in the road but that is to be expected.

Typically, during this type of debate in a public forum, the morality and ethical issues will take the forefront of the stage. The reason being is public forums thrive on dispute, separation of ideas and differing moralistic opinions. It is the heart and soul of MajorWager and it is what makes the forums so successful.

The discussion of morality as it relates to Offshore Operators came up after I made a rather bold statement to a prominent, beloved, ex bookmaker. The comment was along the lines of .let.s not judge too harshly lest we are judged ourselves.. Expectedly, that got the self righteous crowd rather riled up. I was asked point blank about my thoughts on offshore bookmaking as it pertains to being a moralist. I promised that I would share my feelings later and I will make good on that promise.

I would say, in general owners of offshore books and casino are not a very moral crowd. How could you be? You are there to grab every last remaining dollar that you can suck out of a person.s wallet or bank account. To me, gambling is like drinking, only worse. It is highly addictive. It is socially destructive and should be regulated as is alcohol.

If I walk into a bar, and the bar gets me intoxicated and then allows me to do stupid things like drive a car, the bar is liable for my subsequent actions, in part.

If a bookie is aware there is problem yet continues to take action from someone who is obviously about to lose everything he has, the bookie should be held liable as well. There is a thing called fairness and basic humanity. An ex- bookie maker suggested .yes, but they do it on their own free will.. Please, that is the biggest cop out I have ever heard. Let.s deal with that example. According to this ex-bookmaker it would be alright for the player to lose everything they had. Steal, beg and borrow to get more, lose his family, lose his house all in the name of profit because .we didn.t put a gun to his head.? Hogwash. Part of living in a responsible society includes our corporations to be responsible to its customers.

There was a situation not so long ago in which a Canadian took part in a very well publicized investment fraud. The amounts stolen were in the 40 million dollar range. Books took this guys action knowing perfectly well that something was not right. Did they look into it? Of course not. Did they know something was wrong? Of course they did. That is the nature of the offshore beast. No regulation whatsoever and a free-for-all for these operators to take whatever they can without one effort make sure its customers are not having problems. Slapping up a link to GA is a joke. I get embarrassed for this industry every time a see these hypocrites slap that link up.

If books are concerned with being moral and ethical they should have check and balances in place that can automatically detect .out of the norm. betting and cut it off. Not simply asking if everything is ok, but cut it off. Will they ever do this? Not in my lifetime because they are more concerned with living on the ocean and paying for the lifestyle than they are about helping ruining people lives that have addictions.

So the next time your hear from a Sportsbook Operator and he tells you that you are being immoral, ask him how many times he has sent back stolen money. Ask him how many times they have sent back money taken from people with an addiction that mortgaged and lost their homes. Ana finally, ask them how many times they picked up the phone and said to a customer, .sir, you appear to have a problem, we will not accept any more money from you.. Just ask.

Russ Hawkins



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