It’s a funny thing about the news that when you know something about a subject, and you read about it in the paper, you realise quite how little about it is accurately reported; and then you turn the page and read about something that you know nothing about, and assume automatically that every point contained in the article is the gospel truth.
In a similar way, I sometimes wonder how come Europe remains in such a financial pickle after all this time, when I take the natural assumption that the people in charge know exactly what they’re doing. And then I see decisions made by EU and soon-to-be-in-the-EU governments about a subject that I do know something about, and I realise that actually they make it up as they go along, with little, if any, weight put on experience and the reality of today’s market.
Take, for example, the news that the Serbians have decided that an ISP block is the way to stop online gaming. Have they been watching anything that’s been going on? Do they talk to anyone who has tried it and seen it fail? What magic bullet do they think they’ve got that hasn’t worked for anyone else?
In Belgium, meanwhile, the ground-breaking news is that they have introduced a blacklist. What, like the Italians had, that everyone got round every week? Surely not? But yes – no joke about it. Perhaps all that was happening during the two years that the Belgians were trying to work out how to form a government? Or is there another excuse?
Their list currently includes ten operators, but the man in charge, Peter Naessens (a name which by coincidence sounds remarkably like ‘no sense’) says that “that could rise to 100 by the end of the year”. I’m sure that will prove effective in the face of the 15,000 sites estimated by the EU to be offering gambling services online (or 20,000 by other counts).
It remains a source of bewilderment to me that this sort of measure can continue to be put in place in the face of mounting evidence that bans are an ineffective means of ensuring that people are properly protected. The latest people to add to the pile are the South Africans, whose National Gambling Board says it is powerless to block sites. So much better, then, to licence operators which can then promote their services in a country. It’s surely not that difficult to understand?