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Online gaming companies in Europe were dealt a blow on Monday as the European Union accepted a US offer to open some other services markets as compensation for shutting foreign companies out of America’s lucrative gambling industry.
The EU said the bilateral deal would provide European businesses, such as TNT of the Netherlands and Deutsche Post of Germany, with unspecified new opportunities in the US postal and courier, research and development, storage and warehouse sectors. The US had also made concessions in the testing and analysis services sector.
However, the deal, signed in Geneva, disappointed the online gambling industry, which claimed the EU had lost vital leverage in the effort to open up the $15bn-a-year US online gambling market. Millions of dollars were wiped off share values in October 2006 after the US made it illegal for credit card companies to process online gambling transactions, effectively closing the market to foreign competitors. The World Trade Organisation had ordered the US to grant compensation after it withdrew a commitment to liberalise the sector. The withdrawal came after the tiny Caribbean state of Antigua and Barbuda, which hosts a large gaming industry, brought a successful dispute case at the WTO. The WTO will rule soon on Antigua’s request for $3.4bn compensation.
A spokesman for Peter Mandelson, the trade commissioner, refused to put a figure on the US offer, and said it could not be linked to the campaign for equal treatment in the US online gambling market. A spokeswoman for the US trade representative, who hatched the agreement, would also not discuss specifics but said she was confident the package provided WTO members with economic opportunities “at least as valuable” as the US gambling market. The US had also reached agreements with Canada and Japan.
Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, which represents companies that say they are losing at least $4bn in revenue a year, claimed the EU had handed over its primary weapon in the fight. He said:
“The Commission can still press for an opening up of the market, but the leverage of the outstanding [compensation] negotiations has been taken away.”
Mr Mandelson said he would continue to press for equal treatment and is placing hopes in legislation proposed by Barney Frank, chairman of the US House Financial Services Committee, to liberalise and regulate the online gaming industry.
Craps is perhaps the most communal of all casino games. The house hands the players some dice, and invites them to play. Players all take turns acting as shooters, trying to beat the casino literally with their own two hands. Unless a player is ‘betting on the dark side’, placing Don’t Pass and Don’t Come bets, all players stand to win and loose together. When a shooter is ‘hot’, everyone is happy and making money. When bad luck is in the air, it affects everyone. But there is more to craps than the classic Line bets.
Other than the popular Line bets, playing craps gives you the ability to bet on almost anything. The simplest bets are Single Roll bets, which are determined after one single roll of the dice. However, players also have the option to bet on Multi Roll bets. These bets may be settled after one single shot, or may take any number of additional shots to be determined. Below is a list of classic Multi Roll craps bets, along with their corresponding payouts, actual odds and house edge.
Hard Way: A Hard Way (Also known as ‘doubles’) is when both dice are showing the same value. For example, a Hard Way Eight would be dice showing 4, 4. You win this bet if a shooter throws a specific Hard Way (4, 6, 8 or 10) before he throws a 7 or the corresponding Easy Way. The Hard Way is a very common craps bets, and it even has many references in pop culture. The movie ‘Hard Eight’ got its title, as well as many inspiring scenes, from this bet.
Hard Way 4 / 10 – Payout: 7:1; Actual odds: 8:1; House edge: 11.11%
Hard Way 6 / 8 – Payout: 9:1; Actual odds: 10:1; House edge: 9.09%
Easy Way: This bet is the opposite of the Hard Way. If the shooter throws an Easy Way (4, 6, 8 or 10) before the 7 or the corresponding Hard Way, you win, otherwise you loose. An example of Easy Way 4 is 3, 1.
Big 6 / Big 8: With the Big 6 bet, you win if a 6 is rolled before the 7. The Big 8 is the same, except with an 8. These bets are considered ‘sucker bets’ by most veteran players, and should be avoided. They pay even money (1:1), but the actual odds are 6:5 in favor of the house, so the house edge is 9.09%. Though the same house edge (or worse) is found in many other craps bets, this is considered an exceptionally bad bet because you can make the same proposition with better payouts using a either a Place or a Buy bet (see below) on the 6 or 8. Some casinos have removed these bets from their craps tables.
Place Bets: You can bet on either on of the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 to show before the 7. A Place bet must be placed by the dealer. You place the wager in the ‘come’ area and call out “place the 4”. The payout is worse than the actual odds, to maintain the house edge. Still, this choice is better than betting on the Big 6 or Big 8, as demonstrated below:
Place 4 / 10 – Payout: 9:5; Actual odds: 2:1; House edge: 6.67%
Place 5 / 9 – Payout: 7:5; Actual odds: 3:2; House edge: 4%
Place 6 / 8 – Payout: 7:6; Actual odds: 6:5; House edge: 1.52%
Buy Bets: Buy bets are the same as Place bets, with one small difference: Buy bets pay out true odds, but a 5% commission is charged to ‘buy’ the bet. The commission used to be charged regardless of the bet outcome, however in recent years most casinos have changed that policy and they now charge only for winning bets.
Buy 4 / 10 – Payout: 2:1 – 5% commission; Actual odds: 2:1; House edge: 5%
Buy 5 / 9 – Payout: 3:2 – 5% commission; Actual odds: 3:2; House edge: 5%
Buy 6 / 8 – Payout: 6:5 – 5% commission; Actual odds: 6:5; House edge: 5%
Lay Bets: This bet is the opposite of a Place/Buy bet. You win if the 7 comes out before the number you chose. The payouts for the Lay bet are true odds, but a 5% commission is charged.
Lay 4 / 10 – Payout: 1:2 – 5% commission; Actual odds: 1:2; House edge: 5%
Lay 5 / 9 – Payout: 2:3 – 5% commission; Actual odds: 2:3; House edge: 5%
Lay 6 / 8 – Payout: 5:6 – 5% commission; Actual odds: 5:6; House edge: 5%
People have disagreed for a long time on when and how ‘craps’ emerged. One theory, that of Richard Epstein, is that craps has its roots in an earlier game played during the Middle Ages, known as ‘Hazard’; the formal rules of which were formulated by Montmort in the early 1700s. The origin of the name itself is even difficult to determine, but it most likely evolved from the English word “crabs”, or from the French Crapeaud (toad). On this point, however, gambling historians have divergent views. It is a viciously contended subject among many scholars and self-professed experts and even occasionally ends in tears and, unfortunately, fisticuffs!
According to other sources, there is also evidence that a form of Craps can be traced back to the time of the Holy Roman Empire. Soldiers in the Roman Legions used to shave down pig’s knuckles into the shapes of cubes, and toss them onto their inverted shields as a form of entertainment while in camp (“to roll the bones”). Most people now, generally, accept that the game of Craps came to the U.S. from Europe.
There are two general variations of Craps played today that can be directly traced back in history – they are called “Street Craps” and “Bank Craps”. In recent times, the Internet version – Online Craps – has also become very popular.
According to gaming guru and gambling legend Geoffrey W. Dibben, Craps even dates back to before the Middle Ages. The Arabs played a game using little numbered cubes, called azzahr (meaning “the die”). The game showed up across the Mediterranean in France, where it was renamed ‘hasard’, then jumped the English Channel to England sometime before 1550 AD, where the English spelling, hazard, was adopted. The roll of lowest value in that game was called crabs. The French, trying to be amiable, adopted that term from the English, but spelled it the French way: ‘crabes’. In the early 1700’s, the game crossed the Atlantic to the French colony of Acadia, in what is now eastern Canada.
In 1755, the French lost Acadia to the English, who promptly renamed it Nova Scotia and evicted the French-speaking Acadians. The Acadians then bitterly roamed the area and finally settled much farther south in Louisiana, where they were (and continue to be) called Cajuns. They still played the good old dice game, but dropped the title of ‘hasard’ and called the game simply ‘crebs’ or ‘creps’, which was their spelling of the French crabes.
By 1843, the Cajun word came into American English as ‘craps’. People were apparently careful for a while not to omit the final ‘s’ for fear of confusion with a slang term having a totally different meaning, and thus were reluctant to use the word on many occasions.
The fight continues through the streets and houses of the town and out into the open where you meet up with your squad. Now you must man a tank to ‘spot’ targets as the advance continues. If you can spare the seconds here to stop and look around from the tank turret the action that surrounds you rages on unabated. Buildings burn, machine gun nests rain down death from the highest part-destroyed buildings and your troops constantly scream orders and warnings back and forth. Welcome to the world of war!
Much of your time is now spent working your way through the rubble and streets, clearing out pockets of German resistance and keeping up with your ever updating objectives. Here the game will feel like a second home to anyone who has played the earlier versions. The familiar linearity to the plot is however sometimes a little stifling although in later missions the game offers different branches to take to achieve an objective. At regular points scripted actions take over as a level ends and one mission segues into the next. These scripted events also take place within the missions and serve to advance the story and put you under pressure still further.
One of the much heralded new in-game features is the so-called ‘battle actions’. At certain key trigger points you will enter a room and find yourself face to face with a German intent on finishing you off! Here the game descends into a simple version of street Fighter with trigger mashing and button pushing at set cues being required to disable and kill your aggressor. At first these attacks will surprise you and for a while slow down your progress as you tend to advance more slowly through a building expecting to be set-upon at every turn. Later in the game more ‘battle-actions’ are called in to play, these range from planting and setting charges through to rowing a boat or even breaking your way into a boarded up building for cover. Whilst offering some variety in game play these actions can sometimes become tedious and interrupt the flow of the game, once you’ve set a few charges you might start to get bored of winding the joystick round and round, particularly as there is no sense of real urgency to these events because you are not under fire or in danger while you undertake them.
Title: Call of Duty 3
Publisher : Activision
Release Date (UK) : Friday 10th November 2006
Reviewer : northerntrack
Review TV : 32″ Panasonic LCD
Sound used for review : 5.1 Dolby Digital
Reviewed in HD: Yes
Does it really seem like a year since the fledgling Xbox 360 was brought into the gaming world? Back then a developer by the name of Infinity Ward stepped up with a title that was to go on and become one of the most successful launch games on the console. A game which is revered worldwide to this day and still ranks in the top ten of most Live games played. That game is Call of Duty 2. It’s a big shadow to climb out of for any developer and that onerous task has been laid squarely at the door of Treyarch Studios. Better known for producing some of the earlier iterations of the franchise, Treyarch was tasked with producing a sequel to this top selling launch title and advancing the series into the second wave of next generation titles. A tall order for a games developer to meet under any circumstances but in this instance the pressure was really on to deliver. So, have Treyarch managed to take the Call of Duty series to the next level?
Call of Duty 3 takes you on a journey through France after the Normandy landings. Whereas its predecessor skipped from country to country fighting along the way Treyarch has set out to achieve a more personal tight-knit narrative structure to their game. The campaign this time follows the fortunes of the British, American, Canadian and Polish armies as they take part in the battle to seal the Falaise gap in Northern France. Here in Chambois a pocket of heavy German resistance has broken through the Allied lines and is preventing there advance and liberation of Paris.
After your brief introduction to your weaponry it’s right into battle. Straight away the changes are evident.Treyarch has set out to reduce the ‘loading’ screens to a minimum and the cut scenes play out as the game is loaded, now that’s not to say you won’t ever see a loading screen, but the game flow is not unduly interrupted by interminable waiting at static screens while any of the levels load. The introductory scenes add some personality to the soldiers around you and give you a sense of inclusion in a close squad of men about to embark on another all-important mission.
As the cut scene fades you are offered a leg-up over the wall and on into battle in the graveyard at St Lo.The first time you lift your head over the wall the camera pauses and pans left and right allowing you to take in a battlefield scene of chaos and destruction. Everywhere you look bullets are flying, grenades exploding and men are dying. As you take your first tentative steps upon this new battlefield the sheer scale of action surrounding you is overwhelming. Treyarch have taken the series and added on another level of action and realism that simply cries out to be observed. No time for sightseeing though as you push on through the church, witnessing on the way some of the scripted actions as a plane slams into the church tower debris scattering all around. The resulting explosions will make you duck as their visual prominence and aural bombardment immerses you deeper into the battle.