Feeds

Statistics prof nails Blackpool hoopla scam

Golden Mile game 'impossible to win'

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A statistics professor called in by trading standards helped nail a Blackpool hoopla stall operator who fleeced holidaymakers of thousands of pounds in a game which was pretty well "impossible to win", the Telegraph reports.

Blackpool Council moved against Philip Williams' Golden Mile operation following complaints that he was bullying "vulnerable" tourists into parting with cash for the chance to win "stuffed toys and bottles of champagne".

Blackpool magistrates’ court heard that one unnamed doctor lost a whopping £1,200 in a single session. Victoria Cartmell, prosecuting, told the court: “Most of the victims were visitors and were young, vulnerable or elderly. They complained they were kept at the stall to try and get money back they had lost."

The court saw video surveillance footage of a trading standards sting involving two teenage girls, which showed stall staff "bullying the girls, aged 14 and 15, to keep playing". The pair ended up £70 out of pocket but were handed “consolation prizes” of a poster and a small stuffed toy.

In September 2008, the stall was raided, and the "blocks, hoops and several empty bottles of champagne were seized".

Williams claimed his hoopla set-up was a "game of skill", and therefore exempt from a license required by the Gambling Act 2005. However, tests by Lancaster University statistics lecturer Dr David Lucy showed it would take a player over 2,622 attempts to “stand a 99 per cent probability of success”.

The Telegraph explains: "The blocks over which players were supposed to cast the hoops were tilted away from the thrower, reducing the chance of success, and in some cases were wider than the hoops themselves."

Dr Lucy said: “The geometry was such that a player would need to throw the hoop at such a high trajectory to be able to win at all and obviously this went far beyond any reasonable skill level.”

Williams, 53, admitted "unlawfully allowing premises on the Promenade to be used for gambling and permitting a child to gamble". He was yesterday "jailed for 14 weeks, suspended for one year, ordered to complete 270 hours of community service and pay £2,000 in court costs".

Darren Casey, 36, also pleaded guilty to "allowing a child to gamble", and was handed "135 hours of community service" and ordered to cough £575 in costs.

Presiding magistrate Julie Blackwell told the pair: "We think this sort of behaviour tarnishes the [town's] reputation and actively discourages tourists coming to Blackpool."

Council trading officer Shaun McKinney concluded: “This was a very bad thing for tourism in the resort. They might look like harmless fun but this case proves that even a simple game of hoopla hides a background of criminality." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Holy vintage vehicles! Earliest known official Batmobile goes on sale
Riddle me this: are you prepared to pay US$180k?
Criticism of Uber's journo-Data Analytics plan is an Attack on DIGITAL FREEDOM
First they came for Emil – and I'm damn well SPEAKING OUT
'Open source just means big companies can steal your code.' O RLY?
Plus: Flame of the Week returns, for one night only!
'It is comforting to know where your data centres are.' UK.GOV does NOT
Plus: Anons are 'wannabes', KKK says, before being pwned
NEWSFLASH: It's time to ditch dullard Facebook chums
Everything hot in tech, courtesy of avian anchor Regina Eggbert
Hey, you, PHONE-FACE! Kickstarter in-car mobe mount will EMBED your phone into your MUG
Stick it on the steering wheel and wait for the airbag to fire
Bible THUMP: Good Book beats Darwin to most influential tome title
Folio Society crowns fittest of surviving volumes
U wot? Silicon Roundabout set to become Silicon U-BEND
Crap-spouting London upstarts to get permanent road closure
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?