I go to betting shops, I go horse-racing, I used to go dog-racing and I’ve managed William Hill betting shops in London sink estates.
In the 1980s it was the White City Estate in Shepherds Bush and I did it again in the 1990s in the Winstanley Estate at the back of Clapham Junction station (very different world to the front of it).
I also had Ollie Watkins to score the first goal for England against Switzerland on Saturday night and because he came on as a substitute after the first goal, I got my money back.
But I won’t touch a gambling app. That is where hell and ruin lie. Nobody can win using them, especially the winners because the data collected means winning punters are offered shorter prices. It is throwing your money away and the brainwashing never stops through ads and targeting.
In the analogue and the fairer world, I like pitting myself against ‘the machine’ and, if I take a price on a horse that wins at a longer price than its starting price, then that is where heaven and joy lie.
But the best form of challenge is face-to-face with your mates in the pub when watching a game of football. Whether it’s the time of the first goal or the team that scores first, you set the rules together. That’s even better than heaven and joy if you beat your mates instead of the machine. Obviously, hell and ruin if they beat you.
But there is still a huge difference here between gambling with your mates, as much fun as it is. It’s ‘better’ than using an app, but it’s still based on chance, not skill.
So, somewhat ironically, I find myself writing about a technology company with an app called Stakester that offers a business where mates can win money and prizes playing games against friends (or strangers), be they mobile or console…
…rather like I do with coins with my mates in the pub, but based on their games skills, not our gaming chance.
Moreover, like any intelligent technology company, they are about to launch NFTs, this time in the guise of ‘NFT cheat codes’ and while that sounds a bit wrong, there have been cheat codes in games forever and, as NFTs go, it’s a pretty good idea.
Moreover, Stakester players also benefit from revenue share and the company’s Legendary NFTs that will allow holders to earn passive income. The opposite of gambling.
Stakester’s CEO Tom Fairey puts it thus: “There are only a few places where we can’t operate because skill-based competition isn’t allowed. it’s a huge advantage that we have over our competitors: we can expand quickly and easily because we aren’t a gambling company.”
Gaming or ‘gaming’ is a very clever way of gambling companies disguising their product as a game when often it is outright gambling. It’s like the American republican government when it managed to rename ‘global warming’ as the more benign and less frightening climate change.
When is gambling not gambling? It’s an argument that rumbles on and on. Basically if the game is a skill-based one and controlled by the progenitors in the ‘game’ then it’s not gambling… as Stakester’s Fairey pointed out.
It’s like arguing whether backgammon is luck or skill. By the way, backgammon is an utter game of skill and the best game in the world. No luck involved.
For Stakester, these skill-based places are 47 states in the US, Canada, everywhere in Europe (except France and Italy) and with an initial $6 million in funding, Stakester is expanding to Singapore and the lucrative market in the Middle East.
The NFT launch is odds-on to bring in another swathe of funding and this looks like another UK-based success story and a belated one for London, which hasn’t had a gaming success since the whacky days of Mind Candy and whatever that kids’ game was called. Oh yeah, Moshi Monsters.
All of which comes round to my increasingly frustrated stance towards the England manager when it comes to Ollie Watkins. As a huge fan since his first game for Brentford, I bet a hedge fund manager £1,000 almost five years ago that Watkins would gain 20 caps for England.
My opponent accepted my bet gleefully, saying Watkins was too old to start an England career, but in the past 18 months he has already received six caps and scored on his debut.
But, for some reason, Gareth Southgate keeps bringing him on in the 85th minute, which is good for my bet, but not for his England career. I’m hoping he starts tonight against Cote D’Ivorie and that he scores four.
Skill-based, that’s Watkins, trust me.