The topic of “payment morale” simply has to be addressed somewhere and sometime. A central question that concerns many, especially newcomers to gambling, is: “Who guarantees that I will get my money if I win?”
For most, the state is the one “in the white coat”, the one who is trusted. So people prefer to gamble, if at all, with the state. Toto, Lotto or, in recent years, Oddset can brilliantly “catch” or “capture” a bunch of people who like to gamble. The fact that these people then put up with much worse conditions in terms of odds, i.e. long-term chances of winning, is then both most welcome for the state, which can continue to line its pockets, and from the player’s point of view the confirmation of the thesis that one can only lose anyway. As I said, it is done anyway, because the joy of gambling exists. The fact that the state then refers to the protection of players from gambling addiction in order to preserve the monopoly is at least duplicitous in this context. Because with these bad conditions, players really have no chance of coming out ahead in the long run (of course they do in the lottery, the one winner, but even there the state has not taken any risks. Everything that was paid out was also wagered and much more).
The gambling casino is also absolutely confidence inspiring. There is so much money in circulation, people rely on being paid if they win, and for good reason. Here too, at least in Germany, the state is behind it. But I’m sure people abroad wouldn’t have any qualms about it either. The only problem here is that no matter how well you play casino games, it is very difficult to almost impossible to play them with any advantage for a living (again, poker is now also played in casinos; although a percentage is deducted, it is certainly possible for good to very good players to play the game well enough to win and earn money).
For most people, it is the biggest hurdle that keeps them from playing. On the other hand, quite a few are certainly grateful for it. They would love to gamble (you can play the lotto or Toto without being ashamed, other lotteries too), but who knows if you will get the money at all if you send it somewhere in cyberspace and then win? So I listened carefully to my parents, hands off, I’m virtuous, and this question of whether you get the money on top of that, I just don’t do it, period. Gambling is associated with a milieu that is not only symbolically considered “shady”, and God knows you don’t want to get into that.
If you meet someone in a pub somewhere, even if you have excellent skills in a game (let’s say Skat). If someone were willing to play with you for large sums of money, you would always be suspicious. Why would the man do that? Either he wants to cheat or he doesn’t want to pay. Even there, scepticism prevails.
If you have to send money somewhere, to a bookmaker, or even nowadays via the internet to an internet provider (of bets, roulette or blackjack), then something must be wrong. The scepticism becomes even greater. My money somewhere in cyberspace? And if I should win, why should I get the money plus the winnings back? Who is going to guarantee that?
In the course of my gambling career I have encountered many things, many that would confirm this scepticism. Yet I have been able to hold my own, getting my money so many times that overall it has been “worth it”. It is almost always paid.
In any case, if you come across private people you don’t know yet, you have to be careful. That goes without saying. Among players, one then helps oneself with the phrase “Every game is paid cash immediately.” If you are even more sceptical, it can actually be advisable to have your opponent’s assets or at least his ability to pay shown to you. So if someone wants to play a game of billiards or chess or backgammon for 100 euros, they should at least have those 100 euros. Or you are an imposing appearance, that also helps.
If I may relate a few incidents from my life as a gambler? Thank you. So here goes:
1) Off to Munich
In the early days, of course, things like that happen to you. I knew that backgammon was played a lot (but also quite well) in Munich. So one day I just drove to Munich, asked where, went to the pub and had a game right away. Fortunately, my opponent turned out to be an amateur player and I won. The only thing was that I immediately agreed to note down the amounts owed in the form of points. When we had reached about 400 DM, I asked quite politely if he wouldn’t like to settle some of it? He was enraged and now accused me in turn. It was a welcome opportunity. Anyway, you guessed it, I didn’t see a penny.
2) One night in the chess café
Well, as the saying goes? You can learn from bad luck (I know what you think about that: it didn’t work for me). Nevertheless, a while later the following happened:
I was sitting, as so often, late at night in the Café Belmont, the gamblers’ meeting place in Berlin, hoping for a good game (you can also put it this way: I was waiting for “customers”, the willing ones are also sometimes called “punters”). Suddenly a man entered whom I had never seen before. He had somehow come with the intention of playing. He was also willing to play backgammon with me.
That alone does not mark a “clientele”. He also wanted to play reasonably high, but had almost no cash with him. He admitted this straight away, but then said he had euro cheques. Of course, this was extremely worrying, what did I know about Eurocheques and their reliability? On top of that, I had to hope that he was a weak player at all.
In the absence of any viable alternatives, I let myself in for the game. The luck of the dice was in my favour to the extent that I also won that night. The cash was exhausted (DM 200 maximum), but we kept playing. What did I have to lose? After all, my patience had already paid off, I could have come home with 0.
He willingly filled out more and more cheques. One each for 400 DM. The supposedly guaranteed sum insured. In the end, I had a total of 10 cheques in my pocket. He then left the restaurant and was never seen again.
Fortunately, I was spared sleep disturbances, because the night was already over. I waited for the last 2 hours with a cup of coffee (it might have been two) for the bank to open. I went straight to the main branch of the bank and was at the counter on time for opening. I can well imagine that the palpitations got through to the lady. But, what can I say? Her hesitation was probably only triggered by my scepticism, she paid me an even DM 4000!
That was the biggest profit I had ever made. I had won a chess tournament before, even a good one with a lot of money, but it was nine days of hard work and extreme discipline, coupled with the necessary luck, I got 2000 DM. But now 4000 DM in one night? That was overwhelming, especially since I could still hope for plenty of repetition.
I went shopping straight away, new clothes, for a total of 1000 DM. Then I went to the travel agency and booked a week in Ibiza. Half of it was already spent (that’s how you recognise the right “suitor”. The effect is also called: Easy come, easy go). The week in Ibiza was really wonderful. By the way, I had also chosen the holiday destination because I had already heard that backgammon is also played there.
But we’re on the subject of “payment morale”, otherwise I could just chat about my island experiences here again. I will spare the reader that. But postponed is not abandoned!
3) Sports betting Salzburg
It was my early days in the betting business. I had no idea how it all worked, but I was somewhat gullible. A betting office that exists, accepts bets and so on, why shouldn’t that pay off? A lot of bets come in, some have to be paid out to the lucky winners. That’s part of the business. The reputation has to be maintained, so why give the customers a hard time?
But it’s not quite that simple. You have to have a high enough turnover, and the odds have to be halfway correct. In addition, there are competitors who can steal customers away from you, and you have a lot of costs, apart from investments, if you want to grow. In other words, a betting office can go bankrupt just like any other business.
Nevertheless, I had sent money to Sportwetten Salzburg, as I had to some others. I had about 600 DM there. Of that, I had bet about DM 400 on “Bayern Munich will be German champion”. That was my computer’s advice. As it happened, I had established a good contact with Sportwetten Salzburg by phone. In the meantime, I knew the managing director and he also knew some of my product. He seemed interested in my software and my way of working.
It was towards the end of the 1990/91 season, around the beginning of May. I actually arranged to meet the gentleman at the weekend. We were to meet in Salzburg in his office, I would be very welcome. I packed my computer, got into the (borrowed) car and drove to Salzburg. Friday arrival, Saturday noon was the appointment. I went to the office in good spirits, I can still see it in front of me. The office was locked. I walked around the outside, looked in all the windows. I could see heaps of computers and all sorts of things you would expect to find in a betting office. Only there was a lack of staff. There was no one there. That couldn’t be. It was the final round of the Bundesliga, the match day was about to kick off. It had to be busy.
I was stunned and desperately searched for an explanation. I got it days later: all the people in charge had fled, the office was broke. However, I was lucky in that Bayern did not become German champions after all. They would have had to win against Uerdingen on the last matchday, and at the same time Kaiserslautern would have had to lose in Cologne, neither of which happened. So the defeat only cost me the remaining DM 200.
But that wasn’t enough: some time later I heard about a new bookmaker in England, Viking Sports. I immediately got the odds and deposited money there. I played there for a while, with (little) success. I also called up DM 2000 once, as was then the habit, to test the payment morale. Everything went well, the money arrived.
So I continued to play there. But after half a year the following happened: I placed a bet. Underneath it was “Atalanta X”, so Atalanta Bergamo on a draw, “Game 43 X”, you had to give the game number. Atalanta played X, the other results of the system bet were also favourable. The result was a profit of about DM 6000. On Monday, I called and asked about the account balance. I got a big fright: there was about DM 4000 missing.
I asked in a friendly way how that was possible. The man on the phone read out my bet. Everything was correct, but instead of Game 43 X he read “Game 42 X”. I said, “Yes, there’s the mistake, I played game 43.” He said he had written down 42. That was, you can save the question, of course not X gone out.
Well, I understand what you think: “I knew you shouldn’t play. You only get cheated anyway.” But the factual situation is not quite that simple. I invoked a paragraph from the terms and conditions that clearly stated, “Telephone bets are recorded on tape. If there is any ambiguity, the tape can then be listened to.” At least, that was the content of what it said.
I referred to it and asked to simply listen to the tape again then. I would of course accept it if I had misspoken or at least it had not been clear. They asked for a call back in the afternoon.
What did I get to hear? “We’re sorry to have to tell you this, but the tape ran out just then. Unfortunately, the call was not recorded.” I immediately called in my money and never bet there again, of course. I did not seriously consider a lawsuit. The only astonishing thing I found out a short time later was that Viking Sports had been founded by the former “Sportwetten Salzburg” men…
One can also experience something like this in a positive way. Here’s a small example: The weekend always went like this: I placed the bets at some point, usually by Friday noon, then waited for the results at the weekend, if you like, I was quite anxious, recorded them and then did all the accounting with them. My computer did this automatically. It could settle all system bets correctly, I had an automated account management, so stakes and payouts were deducted and credited to the account. I had the new, current account balance after entering the results and settling the bets.
On Mondays, I then called all the bookmakers I had bet with one by one and the account balance was reconciled. That simply had to be done. Sure, there were sometimes differences, sometimes to my advantage, sometimes to my disadvantage. Most of the time, the error could be found quite quickly, to the satisfaction of both parties.
This Monday I called Admiral Sportwetten. A very friendly lady was on the phone. I asked about my account balance. I tried to hide the surprise I felt at the amount I heard as cleverly as I could. The account balance was 6000 DM too high! According to my calculations, I had won about DM 2000, so according to Admiral’s calculations, I had won DM 8000. I briefly asked for clarification as to how the amount had come about. The lady reconstructed my bet, so she read me the recorded bet. Then at some point she read out “Austria had you on win”.
At that moment I guessed what had happened, because I knew the results from memory: Austria may have always been the Vienna Austria in Austria, so when I recorded the bet, when I said the name “Austria”, the person had automatically understood and entered “Austria Wien”. But I had meant “Austria Salzburg” and probably also announced it. Austria Wien had won, Austria Salzburg had lost.
But should I complain now? I only felt remorse for a relatively short time. I thought about what would have happened if my team had won and Austria Vienna hadn’t? Then my account balance would also have caused a shock, but a negative one. I wondered if I would have realised when listening to the tape recording that I had indeed expressed myself wrongly or in a misleading way.
After all, that could have happened in this case. Imagine: I complain about the account balance. I say: “No, it can’t be that much. There’s been a mistake.” The lady asks me to call back in an hour, she would find the tape and play it for me. That’s how it would be. And after an hour, she goes to all the trouble, we realise that I had indeed made the “mistake” and had accidentally, but clearly audibly, played the Wiener Austria.
I would only have given them a lot of work, only to find out afterwards that they had worked absolutely flawlessly and that I had rightly had 6,000 DM more in my account. That automatically calms my conscience.