Editor's Introduction

A mere six months has passed since our last issue. and yet so much has come to pass in those six months. Just a few examples:

• The United Kingdom is embroiled in a very public debate over the ever-growing number of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) peppering the country’s high streets, as well as the realization that the less-than-a-decade-old gambling act 2005 isn’t equipped to keep up with the changing technological landscape there.

• Following an election season, Australia’s federal government overturns the poker machine reform laws it had passed only a few months prior.

• Finland receives confirmation from the EU that it may continue its national monopoly

• Macau revenues continue their seemingly endless upward trend, while other jurisdictions around Asia and the Pacific Rim see this monetary success and publicly consider bringing gambling to their own markets. (This is an observation that could well be made in every one of our issues – such is the allure of the monetary gains in Macau).

• The United States joins the legal online gambling field a couple of decades behind Europe: online poker in Nevada passes its first anniversary, while online gambling launches in new Jersey and Delaware

These stories all must be embedded in proper historical and sociocultural context. FOBTs did not exist when the current UK gambling laws were enacted, so we must consider what gambling technology did exist at the time. In Australia, the debate over poker machine reform goes back several years, and the ubiquity of gambling in Australian history plays an important role in understanding the current political debate. Finland’s national monopoly for gambling operations reaches back decades, while Macau’s current operational state has a relatively short history (though gambling itself boasts a long cultural history in the tiny city-state, of course). and gambling in the United States has been in existence since before the nation’s establishment, and debated in cultural and/or political settings for nearly as long. Understanding where we are today in the gambling world requires us to always consider where we have been, and who we are.

With that in mind: in this issue, we take a page from Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, and like Billy Pilgrim we become “unstuck in time.” articles in this issue look back at gambling’s history, look to the present state of gambling, and look forward to what gambling will be in the future. When all the articles are considered together, this issue paints a rich perspective on the yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows of gambling around the world.

What you’ll find in the Spring 2014 issue:

We begin with Per Binde’s step back in time, in an article that breaks down some of our conceived boundaries between certain activities, even when they have much in common. Using historical data, Dr. Binde weaves a fascinating tale of the use of throwing dice in judicial settings to determine which of two people found equally guilty of a crime would receive the harsher punishment of execution. Quite the risky gamble, to be sure!

We follow by moving forward in time to recent decades. Matias Karekallas, Pauliina Raento, and Taina Renkonen provide an informed look at Finland. The authors walk us through 20 years of sports betting history in Finland, assessing how sports-related innovations diffused over space and time and how people learned to consume sports betting products in this historic and evolving gambling culture.

Clyde Barrow and David Borges bring us to the present day, with an engaging look at gravity models and their use in casino gaming. This is a rare look at gravity models, which are largely proprietary and hence unpublished in the literature. We crack open the door to some industry secrets here!

Our research section concludes with Omar Moufakkir’s and Dallen Timothy’s examination of a potential future Chinese gambling playground: Hainan. With this article, we look forward in time – Drs. Moufakkir and Timothy provide us with an interesting analysis of “the Hawaii of China,” and whether Sanya might be a future destination for china’s next generation of gamblers.

Finally, in our review section, Leonard Senia treats readers to a timely, thorough review of casino compliance with the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations. This article should be of particular interest for our industry readers in light of the FinCEN casino recordkeeping provisions that promise to change how casinos track the finances of high rollers. To be sure, the future here will not be like the past, as casinos – casinos, which for so long have been resisted by cultures around the world! – are now seemingly considered alongside banks and other financial institutions in our new global economy.

Happy reading!

Brett Abarbanel, Ph.D.
Co-Executive Editor
UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal

Original Research Articles


Diffusion and Learning: Twenty Years of Sports Betting Culture in Finland
Matias Karekallas, Pauliina Raento, and Taina Renkonen