Remember the good old days…under dictators? (Gambling in Cuba)

I just left a rather colourful discussion about the good old days…you know the sort; sweets were bigger and tastier, everything was harder but much more fun, you didn’t have to lock your doors at night and even the weather was better. Technology wasn’t as advanced but it was good enough (said the man who can’t keep off his iPhone for longer than a minute). Oh yeah; and gambling was fun and properly managed.

It might seem weird that gambling would come into such a discussion, but think about it; from childhood you’re taught games where you’re playing to win something…be it your matches in Gin Rummy, fake money in monopoly, or your opponent’s King in chess. It’s part of the growing up process. And it’s the type of childhood pastime that is considered acceptable when you reach adulthood. Of course, my friends and I all like a game of poker or a flutter on the horses or both; so maybe it’s not too surprising after all.

But what did stop me in my tracks was this comment from one of the gang:

“Now, Batista, he was a man who knew what he was doing.”

Batista? Not quite what I expected, after all; wasn’t Batista some kind of crazed dictator that monopolised gambling in Cuba?

“Sure,” replied my friend, “that’s one way to look at it. But if you think about it; there are no proper governments nowadays anyway. There’s always one person running the show, so they’re all dictatorships if you dig down deep enough.”

Hmm. I’m temporarily stumped for a reply.

Surely the current state of affairs when it comes to gambling isn’t that bad that we need to long for a dictatorship to get it right? After all, we’ve got it good. Not perfect, but good.

I know there’s new taxation added to online gaming in Ireland and Europe is throwing lots of spanners in the works as they try to establish regulated systems. And yes, America is clueless; there’s no denying that fact. But a dictatorship? Come on!

My friend shrugs. Everyone else stays quiet.

“I’m just saying…at least he knew what he was doing. And, the fact of the matter is; he was the first of his kind.”

Funnily enough, no one else wants to challenge this and there’s lots of staring into pints and iPhones (which makes me wonder how people would have handled this in the good old days).

I’m pretty taken aback. I mean, this is raucous stuff! But my friend was undeterred – he was on a roll.

“You didn’t get any of the nonsense you get now; at least you could gamble when you wanted! Half the world can’t play online right now and you never know when your account’s going to be frozen or your funds withheld. It’s a mess. They should take a leaf out of Batista’s book.”

One of my other friends is finally incensed enough to comment:

“You should have a unified, global approach. That’s what would work.”

Everyone else agrees, except for my friendly Batista supporter; he gives a knowing look and whispers something about “bunch of hippies”…

The conversation is quickly glossed over; it’s obviously considered far too political (or difficult) a discussion over a few beers. Plus it would lower the tone, or at least the general morale. After all it’s hardly the jolliest of conversation topics.

But as usual, I couldn’t leave it there.

Sure, there was an element of drunken hyperbole (half the world can’t play online right now…really?) and probably some ignorance involved (no explanation necessary) when it comes to my friend’s suggestion.

But it was a pretty outspoken claim…and ballsy. Did the man have a point?

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