The sack race & age appropriate | My week in iGaming

The sack race & age appropriate | My week in iGaming
Simon Wooldridge
by Simon Wooldridge Last updated:

Mid-January 2024

New year, new and age-old things to ponder...

Sack race time

It’s probably fair to question both the thought processes and ethics of a culture that not only speculates about, but actually places bets on, who’s going to get sacked next in a particular industry. But that’s football; a very British obsession.

Wayne Rooney got the boot from Birmingham City on 2 January. Manchester United’s attempts to recapture the Fergie glory days under current head coach, Erik ten Hag, seem increasingly unlikely given their rather less than inspiring league form this season (9 defeats in 21 games). Surely it’s only a matter of time before the spiky Dutchman gets shown the door at Old Trafford (he’s currently at 2/1 to lose his job). And of course there’s speculation about Eddie Howe, the likeable and more than averagely articulate boss at Newcastle. The near wonders Howe worked at Newcastle in the second half of 2021-22 and then last season (getting Newcastle into the Champions League) seem a distant memory with them finishing bottom of their Champions League group and chugging along, mid-table. What appeared so promising just a few months ago is now in tatters. Will it cost Howe his job? Currently he’s at 6/1 to get his P45.

What does it say about us as a society that we bet on people losing their jobs? Can you imagine that kind of speculation in another industry or among people in low-profile jobs? 

‘You know that grumpy one on the checkout at Tesco?’ 

'Yeah, I know her. Purple wig and sideburns?’ 

‘Yeah, that’s her. Apparently she’s favourite among her colleagues to get the sack. 3/1.’

The sack race – an odd phenomena when you step back and reflect for a moment.

Age appropriate?

When does a child become an adult, a kid become a grownup? Well it all depends on the subject at hand and what agenda you’re driving or supporting.

According to some, you’re ‘only a child’ at 15 if you join ISIS and should be judged and treated as a child, Yet some of those advocating this approach also think the voting age should be reduced to 16 – because in attaining that age you know enough and are responsible enough to vote. 15? 16? Not that much of a difference really.

You can join the British army at 16. But you can’t buy your sergeant a drink in the pub until you’re 18.

The age of consent is 16 in the UK, but you can’t get married until you’re 18. But you can start the sex change process at a very tender age without your parents knowing. And goodness knows what the official age rating is for some of the content accessed on mobiles by primary school children.

But… gambling!? Shock horror! When it comes to age… advertising promoting gambling companies and services is the cause du jour for governments and regulators who, sincerely I’m sure, believe normal, responsible grownups are happy to be treated like recalcitrant children.

Last year XLMedia had their knuckles rapped for featuring footballer Mason Mount in an Instagram advert. Mount was 24 years old at the time. Regulators have deemed that no one under 25 should appear in a gambling advert for fear of appealing to children and encouraging under age gambling. Of course, it’s totally appropriate that children don’t feature in gambling adverts, but where should the age thing start and finish? Is footballer Mason Mount at 24 more appealing to under 18s than singer Raye at 26? Where does it start and finish?

And you probably won't be surprised to learn that the government wants to tighten things even further when it comes to football and gambling advertising. Despite an initially positive response, this debate will no doubt run and run...

MGM makes big donation to ICRG

Cynics and do-gooders who like to look down their noses at the gambling industry may also tend to overlook some of the positive stories that emerge. 

So they might not like to know that MGM Resorts International recently donated $360k to the International Center for Responsible Gaming to support two new projects planned in 2024. 

Additionally, MGM will train around 60,000 employees on responsible and problem gambling topics. The ICRG has been in operation since 1996 and works with researchers, regulators and treatment providers in the industry. 

And on the subject of donations...

Hats off to Paddy Power who have donated £1m to Prostate Cancer UK. 

The betting giant, main sponsor of the PDC World Darts Championship, had pledged £1000 for every 180 scored in the championship. Collectively, players managed 914 (up from the previous 901 record), including 23 in the final from winner Luke Humphries. 

914 180s meant £914k for Prostate Cancer UK, which Paddy Power then generously rounded up to a cool million.

Talk about inflation!

We all know how harmful inflation has been these past couple of years. We also know the reputation Italy has for financial volatility. 

However, a 35-fold cost increase over a 6-year period seems somewhat excessive however you may care to look at it. But that’s what gambling operators are looking at in Italy when it comes to licence fees. What cost €200k in 2018 is scheduled to leap up to €7m soon. 

How and why anyone might think that’s a good idea or one that’s remotely fair or workable is beyond me. This proposal has caused quite a stir, with the European Gaming & Betting Association unequivocal in their position, understandably.

Leader race

Further to betting on who’s going to get the sack from a high-profile sports job it strikes me as a bit odd that we also bet on who will be our next leaders. 

With a UK General Election and a US Federal Election both due in 2024 we can anticipate weekly and then daily speculation (with odds varying to support the changing wind and evolving arguments) to reach some kind of fever pitch as the year progresses. With those respective races for power likely to be the most divisive in recent memory we can expect the hyperbole to reach a crescendo this year, 

If it wasn’t so serious it might be funny.

Simon Wooldridge
by Simon Wooldridge Last updated:

Simon’s long-term fascination with slots started with teasing 40p worth of change from the skilful spinning of 10p coins into a fruit machine in the last century. This has grown recently to a solid appreciation for the often dazzling artistry, imagination and mechanics of modern online slots.