Atlantic City’s Next, Best Bet…

Yesterday morning Trump Plaza closed its doors for the last time.  Trump was already planning to close the Trump Plaza next week, but now the Taj Mahal is at risk of closing in November.  This news in conjunction with the Revel closing earlier this month preceded by the Showboat casino closing leaves 7 casinos left open, if Taj Mahal closes in November.

I wrote a few years ago about the blight of Atlantic City and how surrounding states like Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York have reduce the amount of day trippers going to AC.  Hurricane Sandy in 2012 did the Jersey Shore no favors and so here we are today.  Seven casinos left without much hope, except…

Enter sports gambling!  This is the last best hope for New Jersey gambling revenues and it is the bet (pardon the pun) that Governor Chris Christie is making.  This was put to a vote a couple of years ago, and it passed.  The federal government has blocked New Jersey’s efforts and the NCAA and professional sports leagues have joined in.

Governor Christie has had enough, the casinos are closing and consumer behavior is forcing his hand to ignore the federal government and allow race tracks and casinos to start taking sports bets immediately.  Putting aside the legal issues, let’s assume this starts.  Here is how New Jersey benefits:

  1. Sports gambling brings in huge handles for the casinos 25 weeks of the year.  All 17 NFL regular season games, 4 playoff and Super Bowl weekends, 3 NCAA tournament weekends and Kentucky Derby weekend.
  2. The average annual handle (what the casinos earned) in Vegas for each NFL season since 1969 is $41.7M.  This doesn’t include all the ancillary revenue they bring in from people just being in Vegas.
  3. Over 200MM people worldwide gamble online and of those people living in the US they do so illegally.  Those people are making over $380B in bets each year.

Christie’s bet is a winner not just for the casinos but also for the bettors themselves.  Instead of betting off shore with the fear that their money will be stuck overseas, Americans can now cash their tickets and pocket the money.
I’ve been going to Vegas for 15 years for the March Madness tournament and would love to give AC a try as soon as the books are open there.

Joe Paterno, Penn State and Morals

I waited a few days before writing about what has gone on at Penn State University because the first 2 attempts to write this post came across too angry.  I am angry at Jerry Sandusky who has been accused of harming so many young children, I am angry at the former Penn State quarterback, and at the time a grad assistant who witnessed one of the alleged assaults but only went to Joe Paterno, I am angry at Joe Paterno for not reporting the assaults to the police, and finally the leadership, or lack there of, at Penn State to take these statements seriously.

What happened at Penn State is that they forgot that as leaders they should have done more than the bare minimum.  Mike McQueary, was a quarterback at Penn State.  He led 10 other men into battle each week in the Big Ten Conference, and when the games ended, he became a grad assistant coach.  Why only tell Joe Paterno?  If someone was robbing the PSU Bookstore would you tell coach or campus police?  The athletic director and finance guy just sat on the news.  And then there is Joe Pa, he did nothing.  Sure he told the AD, but as the leader of 80+ student athletes, and dozens of coaches, he essentially did nothing.  If Joe Paterno saw a person injured on the street, would he try to help?  He has no morals, and was more interested in protecting his image, his university and his friend, Jerry Sandusky.

This pattern of protecting Penn State and the semi-pro status that the football team has is well documented.  I encourage you to read an article by Chris Korman, a PSU grad, who talked about all the cover ups that have occurred at Penn State under Joe Pa.

My heart aches for the victims and how their lives have been impacted by this.  In a community as small as Happy Valley, PA, I initially was shocked that no one had discovered this sooner, however, after reading Chris Korman’s article it became clearer.  At Penn State University the only morals that leadership had when it came to their football program was money.

Tim O’Reilly waxes philosophical about beer apps and sheep

Last week while I spoke at the Future of Web Apps in London, Tim O’Reilly decided to throw out a challenge to developers to get serious about software.  I guess the timing of this fits with the state of the economy as well as the numerous “silly” apps we are seeing pop up around the web and mobile spaces.  (The “I Am Rich” app for iPhone probably holds the top prize at this moment.)

O’Reilly is never one to beat around the bush, and in this case the challenge to developers is pretty direct:

“O’Reilly argues that Silicon Valley has strayed from the passion and idealism that fuel innovation to instead follow what he calls the “mad pursuit of the buck with stupider and stupider ideas.”

I appreciate what he is asking, but Twitter, one of the sites he mentions for doing good innovation, did not start out as a place where first responders can go for information updates, it was merely a way for friends to connect with short status updates.  The other issue with all of this is the fact people are paying for beer applications and other useless apps.  As long as that happens developers will keep making them.

Over the years AIM has contributed to connecting people separated by continents as well as becoming a way to instantly communicate with people.  During 9/11 when all phone lines were tied up in the New York and DC metro areas, AIM was one of the best tools to use to communicate with friends and family since the internet was still up and running.

Tim’s passion toward developing applications that change the world is important, but sometimes the applications that are most impactful do not necessarily start out that way.  YouTube has broken down barriers of information sharing and gathering and come November 4th, we will see the results of the influence of the internet and social networks had on the election here in the United States.

Software Engineer’s Lament

I have been writing code, albeit not always well, since I was in 1st grade.  There are things that we get right (AIM plugins and modules) and some we don’t (AIM Triton).  It funny sometimes to step inside the world of developers in other industries to realize that they have some great successes and failures.

As someone who has owned just about every version of Madden football and basketball game through the years, an article on ESPN caught my attention where Pat Hruby went through his own personal pet peeves of every sports video game ever made.  It is amazing how good sports video games have gotten over the years, but its still not a perfect world.  At the end of the article, a software engineer laments on a recent game play experience he had, with his own game.

“The other day, I’m playing [against the Lakers], up one with 30 seconds to go,” says a basketball game developer. “The CPU fouls me, sends me to the line. Why would it do that? Play out the clock, get the ball, call timeout, take the last shot. Anyway, I make the free throws. The AI rushes the ball up the court, shoots as quickly as it can with Pau Gasol. And it’s an 18-footer. I get the ball and win.”

The developer sighs. He’s talking about his game. And it makes him crazy.

“For the past five years, we’ve set aside time to make sure the AI makes the right decisions at the end of the game. But either our engineers are stupid or our designers are stupid or I’m stupid, because we still haven’t gotten it right.”

I know the feeling.  Perfection takes time and a little luck along the way.

Will SMS go the way of the Dodo Bird?

A post on Silicon Alley two days ago regarding AT&T’s different iPhone plans caught my attention.  Dan Frommer, writes that AT&T is “screwing its customers by not offering a text message plan in between their 200/$5 and 1500/$15.”  But this is not a problem since there will be “a handful of instant messaging apps” released on the 11th.

The iPhone which, without doubt, has moved the ball down the field as far as smartphones are concerned, I believe is about to change the way all of us do real time synchronous communication via our mobile device.  Since most if not all people will have unlimited data with the iPhone, it makes more sense to use a messaging client rather than pay per SMS.  Messaging clients bring with it, presence, rich-text messages, user customization, such as status, avatars, etc, a familiar experience, and most importantly the ability to do advanced features like photo sharing and file transfer, both of which cannot be done via MMS since it is not supported on the iPhone right now.

SMS is not going away over night, but the iPhone will make it more attractive to NOT use SMS because the IM clients for the phone will be very good.  I am looking forward to seeing what RIM and Android can churn out to keep up.  As I wrote yesterday, here at AOL, we have a very nice AIM client for the Windows Mobile Platform.

Op-Ed On Filtering Content Based on Firefox/IE Plugins or Bandwidth

Lately there have been an abundance of stories on the web describing how content providers and access points to the web will begin to control or filter content based on plugins you may have installed for your web browser, or if you are a bandwidth hog.

This got me wondering if we are headed to a time where the web becomes pay-per-view? If or other sites stop allowing me to view content unless I remove AdBlock, a plugin for Firefox, this is understandable due to the fact that gets their revenue from advertisements. If Comcast determines that I am using too much bandwidth because I am downloading HD Movies legally via my Apple TV, does that make me an abuser of their internet pipes?

I wonder if my Verizon FIOS connection will continue to be all you can eat a year from now, and will it or the websites I visit let me view the content on those sites if I have adblock installed?