May 06, 2016

No casino roulette game would survive a Basel Committee kind of manipulation of the winnings of different bets

Sir, Adam Kucharski writes: “When math students at MIT discovered a lottery loophole in 2005, they formed a company — By the time the lottery was discontinued, they had… brought in a pre-tax profit of $3.5m.” “Investment and betting require similar skills — and luck” May 6.

The expected payout for every bet in roulette is exactly the same, and that’s why roulette has not been discontinued. So how long would Kucharski expect roulette to last if some regulators decided to multiply by some factor the winnings on the low paying “safe” bets, so that player could play for a longer time? Not long eh?

But that is exactly what bank regulators did when they allowed banks to leverage their equity more with what was perceived, decreed or concocted as safe, like when playing a color, than with what was viewed as risky, like when playing a number.

And so when Kucharski writes: “The boundaries between luck and skill, and gambling and investment, are not defined by industry or activity, but rather by the person playing, and who they are playing against”, we need to add, “and by the regulators”… especially if the regulators with hubris think they can distort for the better.

Unfortunately the bets of the banks are much more important than the bets in a casino. A bank, when it does not play a “risky” number, is in effect not giving loans to risky SMEs and entrepreneurs, those who might find the way of helping us to move forward the economy, so as it does not to stall and fall. And the banks, when they play too much the safe bets, AAA ratings, housing finance and sovereigns like Greece, then they will dangerously overpopulate safe havens, and cause crisis like the 2007-08 crash.

PS. Sports? What would be of golf if the handicap commission awarded the great players more strokes than what the lousy ones like me got?

PS. Sports? What would be of horseracing if the handicap commission reduced the weight the fast running horses had to carry, as a reward, and increased that of the slower horses, in punishment.

@PerKurowski ©