Data Shows That Casino Firms Depend On Prolific Gamblers For Vast Majority Of Profits
Less Than Three Percent Of Customers Give Joints Half Of Revenue
Companies that offer gambling depend on individuals who gamble a lot, and lose big, for an absurd percentage of their profits. We already knew this, but data has come out via the Harvard Medical School and Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment to essentially confirm it.
This recent study highlighted that for any given day a gambler could be expected to be a winner around 30 percent of the time, but as the time increases it drops to around 11 percent and most win less than a measly $150. At least one other research effort has backed up this split.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “the analysis comes from a database containing anonymous records of 4,222 Internet gamblers who wagered on at least four days on casino-style games of chance. They played between 2005 and 2007 [on Bwin.Party].”
An implication: High rollers — better known as whales — fuel the industry.
“Of the 4,222 casino customers, just 2.8 percent — or 119 big losers — provided half of the casino’s take, and 10.7 percent provided 80 percent of the take.” These figures are assumed to be mirrored in the brick-and-mortar casino world, both commercial and tribal.
Such losers are likely the reason Macau sees around $40 billion annually in reported gaming revenue. The Las Vegas Strip also covets, albeit to a lesser extent, these types of players.
While whales may be technically considered addicts, or degenerates (the study drew the implication that degeneracy is inherent in the very notion of high volume gambling), it’s hard to really call them that because of their massive fortunes. Sometimes they game more than they can afford to lose, and sometimes the casinos resort to suing the (former) high rollers over gambling debts. Sometimes, even, the casinos themselves get in trouble for not kicking them out when it’s clear the gambling should stop. Alcohol usually makes everything worse.
It’s really a touchy subject, sometimes creating complex legal cases. Recently in Nevada, a businessman took his gambling debt case to the state’s Supreme Court because Nevada had the gumption to sentence him to prison for failing to repay a marker. The Silver State claims that he defrauded the casinos, but the defendant said they knew he was broke.
Because the health of the gambling economy depends on such marks, extending credit is obviously a crucial tactic. It also makes sense because it’s not really feasible to carry around the money that would be required for an evening of betting five-figure sums on hands of blackjack.
With all that said, obviously some of the people who lose big could not ever afford to do so. There are always horror stories of lives decimated by trying to make it rich.
When it comes to gamblers of all sizes, very few actually win in the long run.
The Wall Street Journal stated an obvious fact supported by the data: “Unless they cheat, about the only way gamblers can win at games of chance is to get lucky and then stop gambling.”
It is interesting to note that “cheating” isn’t always cut and dry in the gambling world.
Last year, poker pro Phil Ivey won around $12 million playing a form of baccarat at a London casino thanks to being able to spot a manufacturing defect in the cards. The casino refused to pay the man his money, and so Ivey sued, claiming it wasn’t cheating.
So, (possible) moral of the story? Stick to poker, a beatable game. And if you happen to win the World Series of Poker main event, don’t go to the pit. Ryan Riess is shooting for that.
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