I had my first bet with William Hill when I was seventeen. It was by post and the envelope had merely been time-stamped by the local Post Office. Cheques were accepted and winnings, if any, came back a few days later in the form of a cheque. I never hounded my fags to work hard at anything since I was too democratic. But I hounded them to get to the Post Office. I had and have my priorities.
Since then, over the ensuing fifty and more years, I have won and lost at William Hill. However, last week, I won just once too often and the call centre adviser remarked that I had been made an online customer. I immediately withdrew £10,000 from my balance and was told both by the call centre adviser and the online account that my account had been debited with £10,000.
Five days later the money still hasn’t turned up and enquiry now reveals that William Hill’s “Security Team” are investigating how I came to win. Since it is not likely that I have bribed any employee of William Hill to behave improperly on my account the security team is behaving, as it well knows, solely to delay payment to me simply to irritate me. I think that this is pathetic. If the money does not come through by early next week I shall sue William Hill. I have warned them.
Actually I have also taken the opportunity to consider how online betting works. The fact is that the conduct of these operations is ridiculous. It’s one thing to quote in line with just below Betfair but it is quite another to quote way below such a price. The online (and mobile betting) operators know that they can get away with it since they hold a clear record of how stupid the punters are. And the accountants/IT specialists who set these schemes up know that they can get clean away with it.
However, I wonder where all this leads: the fact is that bookmakers, to succeed long term, must be known for taking bets and, in the current climate, they just will not. Given the fact that all the quoted bookmakers’s current stock market ratings are based on this unsustainable trading advantage one wonders when the stock market ratings change. I think they will.
Apparently, Barclays have had a go at Foxtons (FOXT). It takes time but the slippage is well under way. This smells like a free short. Now 235p.
Globo (GBO) still holds up and is now 43p. If they cannot get away their current loan finance programme, they are in trouble.
The chairman (yes, him again) told me to buy Greece yesterday midday and I alighted upon National Bank of Greece American Depositary Receipts (NBG on NYSE). I did so with affection since I had made a six figure sum on this long trade about four years ago. I then had not for one moment contemplated the declines that would come. But, then, I had never anticipated the madness that is the Eurozone. I got out at perhaps $12. I tried to re-enter yesterday at $0.71 but hit regulatory problems (God, how these oiks invent anything stupid you care to think of at short notice) and I then had to watch it climb to close at $0.82. Big volume, too. Would I pay $0.82 now? Dunno.
Finally, I trousered a quick £9,000 last night on my CHF short against USD. I thanked the chairman for his creativity and despatched him to that well known (hem hem) hostelry, The Jolly Footballer on the Beach, Ibiza. I suggested Amontillado. I meant Manzanilla. Mea Culpa. But the chairman has no wheezes this morning other than to remark that Apple (AAPL) is looking as wobbly as, according to one of his advisers, equity indices in general. This may be because Apple constitutes 3.7% of S and P. Not a lot of people know that.