Iranians the biggest gamblers in Asia? What are the odds?

In the US, gambling online is technically illegal, but that doesn’t stop millions of Americans from playing poker and betting on sports over the internet. Some of us are even known to fund our travels that way (allegedly).

It turns out all of us dangerous gambling delinquents have something in common with the Iranians– we’re both fans of non-government-sanctioned internet gambling.

A British online gambling outfit called RummyRoyal has determined that the Islamic Republic of Iran has the highest ratio of online gamblers to population in all of Asia. This despite the fact that gambling is forbidden in Islam and under Sharia law.

Sasha Arkin, RummyRoyal’s game room manager, sees this as a good sign coming from Iran: “[T]hrough the exchange of messages and money, [Iranians] are breaking out of their isolation imposed by the State.”

It’s nice to know that the US and Iran, two countries often at odds with each other, have something in common: a propensity for passing dumb laws and an inability to enforce them. (Also we both like gambling.)

Best Sports Books in Vegas

Although I’m a big fan of sports, I rarely bet on any. First off, it’s very confusing. You’ve got spreads and points and over unders and all sorts of things like that. I just want to bet on the team I think is going to win; but apparently there is much more to it that that.

Fortunately, just in time for (American) football season, the Los Angeles Times has printed a how-to guide for idiots like myself. A True Spectator Sport, by Marc Cooper, runs through some of the basics that one should take into consideration while at a Vegas sports book, as well as recommending a couple of good reads to help out.

It doesn’t go into too much detail, but Cooper, most importantly, includes a sidebar article summing up the best sports books in Vegas. This, folks, is where you can sit down and watch 30 screens of every imaginable sport with a few hundred of your closest sports-fan friends. And if this isn’t cool enough, waitresses will swing by and serve you free beer even if you’re not betting (they just assume you are).

Can life get any better than this for sports fans? I don’t think so.