AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

· Published 06.11.2021 · last updated 05.11.2021

There’s an old saying that goes ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’… It seems that the UK bookmaker, William Hill is in hot water after being accused of adapting this logic to increase the amount of time customers spend on their high street premises.

The introduction of albeit experimental in-store cafes – aptly called WH Cafes – selling hot food has caused a stir and brought with it a helping of negative publicity that wasn’t intended.

With some prices that undercut the likes of McDonalds, the lure has been successful in a nation that loves fast food as much as it loves gambling. It’s a perfect combination!

At the Arndale Shopping Centre, Manchester, one of the five branches at which WH Cafes have been trialed, punters were being tempted by a special promotion that featured both a sausage and egg muffin at a generous £2, plus Big Al’s Chicken Burger at £2.50 – both cheaper than equivalent snacks at the world’s most famous fast-food restaurant.

This might seem like a harmless way to make gambling fans feel more at home – and the idea was even borne out of customer requests – but in an era when the industry needs to be seen to be making a concerted effort to protect people from problems associated with gambling, this latest venture has left a poor taste.

It’s true that cheap (and even free) snacks and tea and coffee have been made available to customers by bookmakers over the years, but this is a snack too far for some. Those who campaign for tough controls are claiming the creation of actual cafes is a cynical so-called ‘loss-leader’, with William Hill being prepared to provide a service that makes no money in the hope of attracting clients to stay longer and, in doing so, spend money doing what people spend money on while hanging around at the bookmakers.

For example, Matt Zarb-Cousin, founder of Clean Up Gambling, said: “When the cheapest sausage and egg muffin on the high street is in William Hill, you start to wonder whether the food is there as a loss leader, in an attempt to generate new customers.”

Compounding the problem is the fact that the industry has for a while been in the spotlight due to the UK government’s White Paper and plans to relax some gambling regulations.

National Lottery latest

The fact that the UK has always had a healthy attitude to gambling can be seen in how much the National Lottery has raised for good causes since being launched in 1994 – a massive £43 billion, in fact! Countless lives have been transformed over the years thanks to contributions to communities across the UK as well as to the Arts, Sports, Heritage and so on. As a consequence, a Competition for a Fourth Licence was launched in August 2020, and this has been stripped down to the final four applicants, with a selection made next year, and the fourth National Lottery licence penned in to begin in early 2024. That augurs well for future investment across sports platforms…

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Meanwhile, for those of you who can make your own sausage & egg muffins and chicken burgers and prefer to have a flutter in the comfort of your own home in the shape of online poker, we recommend GGPoker.

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