Don’t bet on it!

In a world of stupid ideas, you are going to love this one. The investors who bought Torstar, publisher of the Toronto Star, want to expand their newspaper empire into on-line Internet betting. We knew these guys were not newspaper people. Nor are they computer experts. Nor do they seem to know much about casinos. It appears that they are saying they want something to print money for them so they can play at being newspaper people.

They have already assembled the team that will tell them how to get a license from the government to compete with the government’s own on-line casino as well the established off-shore casinos, advise them on the design of a computer casino and design a winning casino for them. Frankly, it sounds like this team only needs Torstar to fund their design work and give the casino some credibility, first with the government and second with the public.

What worries me is that an unsuccessful on-line casino might be a bad investment that could hurry the demise of Torstar. Even worse, think of a successful on-line casino that ends up calling the shots for the newspaper business. Bear in mind that in any multi-facetted enterprise, it is the profitable division that ends up calling the shots.

More out of curiosity, I would like to know how closely the newspaper end of the business is going to follow the sports betting end of the business. The ethics of that would worry me.

This reminds me of the hearings in 2007 about the Bell takeover of CTV. I was in the room for the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) presentation by the head honcho for the television network. Listening to that plea for completion of the deal, I got the impression that this guy knew something about the future that he had neglected to tell the hotshots from Bell Canada.

Well, Bell bought a pig in a poke, thinking there was a future in network television. Little did they know that the future was in streaming video over the Internet and the networks were all up ‘Schitt’s Creek’ along with the CBC.

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