Internet Gambling and A Crystal Ball

Quite often when people are talking about the plots of television series or novels, someone will use the phrase, “ripped from the headlines.” Today I’m feeling like the headlines were reading my book. It’s a little weird.

Those who have read Calculated Loss will remember that one of the early subplots in that book involves Madeline’s day trades around an Internet gaming company.

Briefly, then, from Calculated Loss:

... the market likes numbers, and online gaming has the full menu in that department. Numbers of people visiting their Web site. Numbers of credit cards on the barrel. And, most importantly, number of dollars rung up over secure order lines.

This company had IPOed with all the right numbers. What was different now was the possibility of a new rule that would make a portion of what they did illegal in a lot of regions where they now did business. Obviously, the outcome of all of this would affect their numbers in the long run: less people, less money, less credit cards. For the moment, however, nothing had actually changed... except that the company’s stock was now trading roughly seventy-five per cent below the level it had been selling for the month before.

There’s more, but not a lot more. Calculated Loss isn’t about Internet gambling. It’s about... well a lot of other stuff but, like all Madeline Carter novels, there’s a day trading component completely outside of the mystery Madeline is unraveling. And, in that book, some of it happens to be about online gaming.

Not everyone thought that whole Internet gaming thing was valid in this context. In fact, the tech editor I work with flagged that portion of the manuscript as a problem area. This is not to take away from her at all. She’s fabulous and much, much more plugged into the stock market than I am. She felt that Internet gambling was now mature enough that such a thing couldn’t happen. I liked the scenario, though. It felt real and possible to me and so I left it pretty much as I’d written it. And though the book just came out a few weeks ago, I wrote all that gaming stuff over a year ago.

Then today, I spotted this headline in The Independent:

Internet gambling firms see shares plunge

As soon as I saw that, I figured my crystal ball was in better working order than I’d figured. When I read the piece, I was astonished. It was almost exactly the situation I’d created. From The Independent:

Billions of pounds were wiped off the value of online gaming stocks today after a controversial move to prevent internet gambling in the United States.

Shares in the sector tumbled by as much as 80% as investors reacted with dismay to new laws in the US which ban banks and credit card companies from processing payments to online casinos.

This floored me because it’s just so uncannily close to what I’d imagined. Not what I’d forecast, understand, because I didn’t predict that this would happen. But I imagined it happening in Madeline’s world. And now it’s happened in mine. It’s a bizarre feeling.

I don’t have a feeling yet for what day traders have been doing with this one. I suspect I know, though. But then I’d think so, wouldn’t I? I’m the one who, at the moment, is feeling all smug about her crystal ball.


Giancarlo said…
Eric Bergen said…
There is hope! It appears that outlawing online gambling violates the US agreements with the WTO. We better get a Democrat in office soon.

You can sign the petition on my site
Anonymous said…
i agree with the legislation which aims to ban credit cards as a payment method for online gambling of any sort... i mean its a no brainer when you consider you are placing somebody else’s money on an uncertain event happening with the aim to recoup more than you invested. Chance and credit do not mix well in my opinion, and continuing to allow it would only contribute further to negatively affecting the high levels of personal debt many citizens today find themselves in. I agree however, in a sense that it won't work - i mean whats the point in banning credit card payments for online poker, for example, but not online sports betting? slightly hipocritical no? I mean how can you allow someone to participate in online horse racing betting, but not have a gamble on a hand of cards? both activities involve a large degree of chance, and neither are guaranteed to yield financial return.
It also infuriates me that the minority of irresponsible gamblers [those paying with someone elses money!] have now ruined the fun of online betting for everyone else - those like me who pay with money they actually have in their bank!! boooo

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