Buridan’s Ass refers to a Medieval paradox concerning the logic of rationality and freewill. It demonstrates the tension between formal and informal ways of thinking and the sometimes paradoxical consequences when this tension is ignored.

…a man, being just as hungry as thirsty, and placed in between food and drink, must necessarily remain where he is and starve to death. — Aristotle

The phrase is a parody of Jean Buridan’s philosophy of moral determinism. An Ass that is equally as hungry as it is thirsty is placed inbetween water and food, equidistant to each. Since the Ass is unable to choose which one to go to first, it will die of thirst and hunger.


I wanted to follow on from my previous post regarding Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, or FOBTs. I mentioned previously that playing them makes no sense. However it is obvious that many people do, and that they can be addictive.

The machines allow an individual to play a variety of games, although the most commonly used is roulette.

It is a joint responsibility of government, the gambling industry AND the individuals who play, to make sure that these machines are used in a responsible manner. Many people tend to focus only on the first two, and somehow absolve the player of any personal responsibility. This is nonsense, but such is the way of the liberal world at the moment. Nobody has to take responsibility for their own actions. It’s all someone else’s fault.

So, this week has seen the government bring forward its plans to limit the stake on each game to £2. It had previously been £100. The idea is that people will still play, but will no longer have the potential to lose so much money so quickly.

Fine in theory, but what about the practice? Has this even been trialled anywhere? If not, how do we know how people will react?

Turning To Mobile Apps Instead

If people are playing the machines because of the permitted higher stakes, which give the ability to win or lose larger sums, then perhaps with lower limits they won’t play them at all? That sounds fine in theory, and maybe you might say that would be a good thing. That is, until you consider that they do have other options. For example, it’s just as easy to use your phone and download a betting app, which gives you the ability to gamble even larger sums, just as quickly.

Using a mobile casino, you can get right back to using large stakes. But unlike FOBTs, there is no way to limit the number of mobile casinos that someone can access. Most are regulated, but others are offshore and beyond the regulatory power of the UKGC.

So if people are driven away from FOBTs and towards mobile betting apps, won’t that potentially just make the problem a whole lot worse? The people who want to gamble with large stakes will continue to gamble with large stakes. They’ll just be doing it in an uncontrolled environment which is far harder (or in some cases impossible) to regulate. How is that going to help anyone?

This is another example of liberal outrage pushing for legislation that has not been properly tested or thought through. It makes you wonder whether they do actually care about protecting vulnerable people at all, or whether they just like to find easy targets to direct their vitriol.


I’m kind of honored this week to have been asked to speak at this years AGM and conference for William Hill. It’s an offer I intend to accept. In a 15 minute slot I will attempt to deal with the logic and psychology of how and why people bet money. Focus will be on internet and mobile interaction rather than in store – I think they know enough about that already.

William Hill are, as you know, a major international brand. Large providers such as this need to find ways to stay ahead of the competition and customer profiling is one way to do so. Every firm has access to data about its customers but it’s a case of knowing when and how to use it, and why.

When you know who your customers are and what they are thinking, you have a better idea of what they want. And when you know what they want you know how best to pitch your promotions to them. William Hill already do a pretty good job of this in my opinion, and you can see more details of their signup offers and ongoing offers here. However even when you have successful offers, there is always room for improvement and small margins make the difference.

If you’re attending the conference I look forward to seeing you there. If not stay tuned to the blog and I hope to have some more posts for you soon.


Each month I will be scouring the internet and nominating my Ass Of The Month award for complete logic failures. This month’s award goes to the Mediawatch section of

This is a column that I normally enjoy and is popular with football (or soccer if you prefer) fans globally. However, it is their discussion of the saga surrounding the Roy Hodgson “Space Monkey” joke that lets down what is normally a well written and logical column, and makes them seem rather foolish.

Here’s where they have a major brain fail, when they state that “If you want to know why there isn’t a Society of White Lawyers, then you’re part of the problem”.

Firstly, the majority of people seem to agree that there is no problem for anybody to be part of. But leaving that aside, why is it any more wrong for a society of white lawyers to exist than a society of black lawyers? Both are wrong, both are completely illogical, and neither should be allowed. In fact both are (or would be) a self defeating entity.

Let’s look at this logically. Racism is discrimination against an individual on grounds of the colour of their skin, right? And what we all (including, one would assume, the society of black lawyers) want to achieve is the eradication of racism.

In a society where racism didn’t exist, there would be no such thing as a black lawyer, and no such thing as a white lawyer. There would only be a lawyer. Therefore the society of black lawyers actually wants to achieve a situation where they themselves could not possibly exist.

How’s that for a paradox?

Mediawatch, you are usually an entertaining read but on this occasion you let your moral outrage win at the expense of your usually sound logic. For that reason, the inaugural Ass of the Month award is yours.


It’s a good question isn’t it? I can understand the social aspect of gambling in real life, whether it be the interaction with other players at a casino table, or conversation with other punters in a bookmaker. Although it’s easy to see why playing FOBT machines makes no sense. But when you gamble online, you get none of the interaction. So what’s the attraction?

I did some research on this to try and get some other viewpoints, and the following video from Navin Bahl was able to offer some interesting perspective.

More to come on the subject of online gambling in future posts. Since it is something that will be coming from the UK to the USA in the near future, I consider it to be a topic worthy of further disucssion.


A friend sent me the link to this short YouTube film which depicts a young man who is a (somewhat unsuccessful) gambler but learns that he’s about to become a father and has to change his ways.

My thoughts? A somewhat predictable storyline, but well made nontheless. Where the logic falls down is that not all gamblers lose. Some, such as Patrick Leitch, have become multi millionaires through betting on horse racing.

So is it gambling that is bad, are the bookmakers the enemy, or is it really a matter of individual choice, self discipline and basic hard work and talent? Should Leitch have stopped gambling at a young age? His bank account would say otherwise. That is the issue I have with those who preach that betting is evil – it’s not betting, it’s (some of) the idiots who do it. But they would be idiots whatever they did…

Anyway, more on the logic of gambling later. For now, here’s the movie.