Snooker news – March, 10, 2020

Yes, another snooker news episode…

The 2020 Gibraltar Open starts tomorrow. The rig is well underway at a new, much bigger venue.

Whilst the audience is restricted to maximum 100 persons, elsewhere it’s been announced that the Cheltenham festival and the London Marathon will go ahead as usual. Now folks, someone has to explain this to me. Is it that big money is immune to the covid-19? Or is it that actually all this hysteria is just that … hysteria and way over the top panic that is right away forgotten when big interests are at stake? You make your mind. You know my views.

Anyway, justified or not the panic is in top gear and the event is already suffering an unprecedented number of withdrawals as you can see here. Amongst the pros, Maguire, Carter, Dott and Noppon Saengkham have withdrawn. This means that Maguire and Dott  are definitely not going to qualify for the Tour Championship, and Carter and Dott will now definitely have to qualify for the Crucible.

Regarding te Tour Championship WST has already published some information regarding the schedule.

World Champion Judd Trump will play his opening match on the first day of the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno on Tuesday next week.

Trump and Shaun Murphy – the top two seeds – have already had their quarter-final matches scheduled at the tournament which runs from March 17 to 22 at Venue Cymru in North Wales.

Trump will play at 1pm on 7pm on Tuesday March 17, while Murphy will be in action at 1pm and 7pm on Wednesday March 18.

It’s an elite field with only the top eight players on the one-year ranking list earning a place. Also sure to be in the line-up are Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui and Yan Bingtao, and their matches are yet to be scheduled.

Mark Allen and John Higgins currently occupy seventh and eighth spots in the one-year rankings, but they could be overtaken at the last counting event, this week’s Gibraltar Open.

Stephen Maguire must reach the final in Gibraltar to jump into the top eight, while Graeme Dott, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, Kyren Wilson, Joe Perry and Mark Williams all need to win the title.

The full draw and format will be released on Monday March 16, with the top seed (Trump) playing the eighth seed, second (Murphy) playing seventh and so on.

Trump has already won five world ranking events this season – one more would set a new record for the most in a single campaign.

Televised by ITV4, it’s the final tournament in the Coral Series, with the player earning the most money across the three events to earn a huge £100,000 bonus. The top prize on offer in Llandudno is a further £150,000.

Tickets starting at just £15 and VIP packages starting at £75 are still available for certain sessions but must be booked fast – for details call 01492 872000 or CLICK HERE

Neil Robertson won the first event in the series – the Coral World Grand Prix in Cheltenham in February, while Trump took the trophy at the second, the Coral  Players Championship in Southport earlier this month.

As it stands Judd Trump is set to face John Higgins in his opening match, whilst Shaun Murphy is set to play Mark Allen. This event is going ahead without particular restrictions, despite likely to attract a lot more viewers on site than the Gibraltar Open.

Regarding big money and my pet hate, snooker’s betting fuelled sponsoring, here is another interesting paper by the bylinetimes.

Iwan Doherty and Stephen Colegrave look at how the huge growth in gambling activity and revenue has grave consequences for society.

The gambling industry is growing up fast – with its worth increasing from £8.4 billion in 2011 to roughly 14.4 billion today.

Online gambling is fuelling this growth and, although nearly half of us are participating in gambling regularly, an increasing minority is suffering the consequences of its dark side in terms of debt and mental health. Indeed, 4.7% of problem gamblers claim to have attempted suicide.

Gambling has become all pervasive, with constant television adverts and marketing at sports events and, as online gambling dominates, the most active gamblers are young, aged 25 to 34. Many of these people have young families that also suffer its consequences.

Online gambling is outpacing attempts to regulate it as its operations are often offshore and beyond reach. Old-style betting shops, although still a sign of a poor area, are beginning to decline with plans to close more than 1,000 of these shops over the next two years as online gambling continues to take off.

Gambling can’t grow by more than 70% in a decade without causing harm. In 2017, a report of The Gambling Commission found that there were more than two million people addicted to gambling and more than 400,000 problem gamblers.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, problem gamblers are more likely than others to suffer from low self-esteem, develop stress-related disorders, to become anxious, have poor sleep and appetite, to develop a substance misuse problem and to suffer from depression.

Seven per cent of gamblers say that they gamble to “earn money to get by day to day”. This doesn’t include the number of ‘day traders’ who are gambling on the stock market, often with little knowledge.

This is an industry that is squeezing money out of its customers and knows that problem gamblers are hugely lucrative. Denise Coates, the CEO of online gambling firm Bet365, is the highest paid chief executive of any British company, with her earning nearly $424 million last year.

Recently, the large betting companies have been exposed as relying on impoverishing a tiny number of problem gamblers to survive, with one company taking 83% of all deposits from 2% of its customers. Such gamblers, who habitually lose large sums of money, are compensated with perks such as free bets, cashback on losing wagers or football tickets. Unsurprisingly, they are much more likely to become addicted.

Personal adverts have become a new tool for the gambling companies and they are now using third-party companies to harvest people’s data, helping bookmakers and online casinos target people on low incomes and those who have stopped gambling. Betfred’s owners are making millions from a company treating those addicted to gambling, as well as being involved with debt advisory companies.

There is no doubt that the poorest members of society are hardest hit by the consequences of gambling. Even the National Lottery relies on less well-off gamblers, even though most of the causes it supports benefit the middle-classes, the opera being the most extreme example.

Why is this allowed to continue – particularly when 58% of us believe it should be discouraged?

Is it because gambling tax provides important income for the Government? Or because, for many members of the establishment, their only real experience of gambling is the glamour of horse racing? Or is it because the consequences of gambling are hidden and it is only the catalyst for debt, mental health and family poverty?

It is time we do something about this before the profits of gambling rise any further and the consequences for vulnerable people become even more bleak.

Betfred, the World Chapionship sponsor is explicitly named in this and I don’t think this paper would risk to be sued for libel by a company with the kind of money Betfred has.

2 thoughts on “Snooker news – March, 10, 2020

  1. It was the Blair government that banned tobacco advertising, leading directly to the all-pervasive gambling-related advertising in the game today. The same Blair behind both the Gulf War (leading directly to today’s Middle-East refugee crisis) and open-borders policy (leading directly to Brexit). Seeing a pattern here?

    Apart from all that, would you like to see Ronnie take a principled stand against betting? I would. If not expunging the industry altogether, at least showing support for the Gambling Commission.

    • Ronnie won’t take that stance. He doesn’t bet, but he’s been sponsored by betting firms in the past. Most Brits are so used to the betting culture that they don’t question it and are in denial of its impact on people. Banning tobacco advertising was the right move, the issue was that the Snooker governing body didn’t do anything to actively to find new sponsors during the time between the decision and its implementation and that was several years. As for the open borders policy it has benefitted UK much more than it has brought inconveniences, as, I’m sure you’ll find out in the coming years. But that’s enough politics and, I’m asking you to leave the political topics alone on this blog. Let’s keep it about snooker and snooker related topics. Snooker heavy dependance on betting is one such topic and, again, I don’t see the governing body taking action whilst it’s onbvious that it’s only a matter of time since it will be clamped on.

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