• Home
  • News
  • Features
  • Hot Copy: Stories that caught our eye this week from around the sector
igamingnext photo

I know something you don’t know

After multiple scandals involving parliamentarians betting on the UK’s upcoming general election hit the headlines in recent weeks, the Financial Times asked “why is insider betting even a thing?”

The article, penned by The Unaccountability Machine author Dan Davies, explores the history of betting using privileged information – both against bookies, and in financial markets.

When comparing insider betting to insider trading, the piece suggests, betting appears to have taken the upper hand in terms of how quickly and rigorously unusual activity will be investigated.

“Try calling up the FCA and saying you’ve got evidence of £100 worth of insider trading but it needs to be investigated this week and can’t wait; see how you get on,” the author writes, pointing out that both Gambling Commission and Metropolitan Police investigations have recently been launched over such “pretty trivial” sums.

There is also a “reasonable question to be asked,” Davies continues, “as to why ‘insider betting’ should be an offence at all.”

“The ability to have someone sent to prison for being better informed than you is a very great privilege indeed, and it’s not obvious what the bookmakers have done to deserve it.”

To explore the issue in more depth, Davies considers the history of insider trading, which was illegal in the US for most of the 20th century but, somewhat surprisingly, was only banned in the UK in 1980, and in New Zealand in 2008.

The US, the first country in the world to ban insider trading, did so because “people tend not to come back to a market where they think they will be taken advantage of,” Davies says, and the country was keen to develop a culture of mass participation in investment.

Perhaps it should therefore be asked, he adds, whether there is “any such great public policy interest in encouraging wider public participation in gambling.”

The comparison is an interesting one to say the least, and readers are encouraged to view this article in full to properly consider the author’s arguments.

A numbers game

Elsewhere, in the two-day lull between Euro 2024’s group stages and the round of 16, The Guardian gave us its rundown of some of the most interesting facts and figures from the tournament’s opening weeks.

Coming as a surprise to absolutely no-one is that England’s performance has left a great deal to be desired, with the Gareth Southgate-led side coming 20th out of 24 teams for its number of attempts on goal.

An underwhelming England performance notwithstanding, the piece goes on to set out several other fascinating stats from the tournament so far.

Precisely one of the 81 goals scored in the group stages were scored directly from a free kick, for example, compared to one in Euro 2020 and four in 2016.

Elsewhere, in a notorious match between Turkey and the Czech Republic, referee Istvan Kovacs dished out an astonishing 18 bookings – with two players sent off with red cards and another 16 being shown a yellow.

That brought this year’s group stage yellow-card count to 161, already 10 ahead of Euro 2020’s grand total of 151.

This was, The Guardian writes, “the dirtiest game in Euros history,” and managed to triple the red card count for the whole tournament so far – with just one other player, Scotland’s Ryan Porteous, having been sent off.

Another record was also broken this year, when Albania’s Nedim Bajrami scored “the fastest goal in Euros history” after just 23 seconds against Italy.

Despite going on to lose 2-1, Bajrami certainly secured his place in history with this record breaker.

With plenty of matches still to be played, plenty of spectators will be keeping an eye out for how many more records could still be broken in this tournament.

On the bandwagon

Finally, The Economist turned its attention east this week, as it suggested that Thailand could be the latest country to jump on the casino industry “bandwagon”.

“Lush jungles, pristine beaches, cheap booze and, as of late, readily available marijuana: Thailand seemingly has something for every kind of tourist,” the piece suggests.

One thing that’s definitely missing from that list, however, is the opportunity to take part in commercial gambling.

Aside from a government lottery and state-controlled horse racing, the article points out, gambling in Thailand remains completely outlawed.

Those hoping to place their bets, therefore, must cross borders into Cambodia or Laos in order to do so, making for “arduous journeys” just to be in with a chance to beat the house.

Riding on a wave of liberalisation that has seen the country legalise same-sex marriage and cannabis in the past couple of years, however, all that might be set to change.

“Thailand is now close to permitting casinos,” the piece continues, with legislation potentially being passed in a matter of weeks according to the country’s deputy finance minister.

The move reflects a larger “gambling boom sweeping the region,” with the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia also getting in on the action.

Business is booming, with integrated resorts in Singapore and the Philippines bringing in around $4bn to each country in 2023, while also generating new employment and attracting more tourism.

Legalising casinos in Thailand could therefore allow the country to “hit an economic jackpot,” with millions of tourists visiting every year, and many of them coming from China, where outside Macau casinos are also outlawed.

With progress expected in the very near future, it’s possible that Thailand will soon add one more reason for visitors to continue flocking there each year.

Similar posts