Saturday, 15 September 2012

Self Control

When someone enters a bet on Betfair, BETDAQ, WBX whatever, they have:

a) Opened an account
b) Funded that account
c) Made a decision to use some or all of those funds

Is anyone who has gone through the above process 'fully aware of what they are doing'? BigAl suggests that 'mental illness' means this idea is 'absolutely not true'.

BigAl is perhaps confusing the ease of the betting in a High Street bookmaker and their ubiquitous FOBTs with the more lengthy process of opening a funded on-line account, but it's a sweeping generalisation to claim my statement is 'absolutely not true'. As 500-5000 says "Whether or not the person placing a bet has a mental ilness or not, it is still their hand, attached to their body that is pressing buttons".

Apostrophe Not Required

Little Al mentions the Gambling Commission's paper on in-running betting, which although recognising that in-running betting "could be symptomatic of problem gambling", fortunately finds "no evidence to suggest that in-running betting poses a specific, identifiable risk to problem gambling as opposed to other forms of betting or on-line gambling."

The original debate was about whether it is unethical to win money from someone who "didn't know what they were doing" or who loses more than they can afford to lose.

I would suggest that the FOBTs I mentioned earlier are more unethical than getting matched on an exchange.

Is it more or less ethical to have an offer taken, or to take a bet that's on offer? Is it ok to be matched with someone who's had a few too many drinks? With someone whose wife has just run off with the next-door neighbour? Where do you draw this line?

As BigAl himself says, the exchanges are anonymous, and we don't know if we are 'taking advantage' of some poor individual or outwitting a full-time trading savant, so the debate is a moot point. If there is value to be had, we would all take it, knowing that if we don't, someone else surely will.
"Hello Betfair Help Desk - I'd like to report someone trying to back Charlton Athletic to beat Crystal Palace at 8.2. I think they might have a mental problem".
"One minute while I look that up sir. Ah yes, that does seem crazy. I'll give Al, I mean the anonymous account holder, a call to check on that - oh, too late, seems like the bet has been matched."
Perhaps part of the process for buying a drink or placing a bet in the future will include providing a signed statement from a mental health professional that you are fit to make such a decision, but until then alcohol will be legally sold to adults and bets will similarly be accepted whether on-line, in a casino, in the Bingo hall, a bookies or in the form of Lottery tickets.

At some level, anyone with an on-line gambling problem knows it, and it is surely their responsibility to manage their issues, and no one else's.    


BigAl said...

You, and some of your readers who have commented, clearly don't understand mental illness.

The process of opening an account is completely irrelevant to my argument.

Perhaps if you can concentrate on dismissing my arguments against one particular point you made: "If you lose more than you can afford to lose, you have only yourself to blame", then perhaps you will think again.

And perhaps you should discuss your comment in this latest post with a qualified psychiatrist: "At some level, anyone with an on-line gambling problem knows it, and it is surely their responsibility to manage their issues, and no one else's".

Is that honestly your view?

SamH said...

I see the exchange format as a blunter version of the real world.

If you start winning money on an exchange this is probably because you are working harder than the opposition. However, you may be winning this money from those who can't afford to lose it or those whose actions don't correlate to their deeper desires (e.g. addiction).

If you get a job this is probably because you worked harder than those who missed out (e.g. you had a better CV) but also some of those who lost out maybe had anxiety/depression/past illness that would obviously hurt them in the application process.

In both cases, the 'losers' are left with little money and I don't hear getting a job being deemed unethical. In fact trading the markets is maybe a fairer playing field than that of employment - for e.g. anyone can set up a betting account but the less privileged can't afford the best education.