Saturday, December 20, 2014

Give Us a Sporting Chance

Hey, it’s the weekend, and you know what that means?  SPORTS!  Whatever time of year, many red-blooded American males (and plenty of red-blooded females) avail themselves to the tube, radio, or Internet (that’s that thing in the sky, Senator Reid), to follow their favorite teams.  Be it football, basketball, baseball, or games played without a ball (I’m looking at YOU, hockey), we’re nuts about sports here in the USA.

Throughout the world, folks are nuts about team sports, too.  Sure, the sport might be a bit different (soccer…uh, football, cricket, rugby, hurling), but they are as passionate as we are about their teams.  And just like us, they like to brag, cheer, and support them however they can.  Heck, sometimes they even throw down a quid or two to back the boys.

Wait a minute.  We can’t do that.  But pretty much everyone else in the free world can.  How the hell did THAT happen?  Why can’t we Americans bet on sports?

OK, let me clarify – sure, if you’re in Nevada you can bet sports.  New Jersey residents might get the chance, maybe, supposedly, soon, perhaps.  Heck, even here in Oregon we had some pseudo-sports betting opportunities via the Lottery, but those days are gone.  But for the most part, if you live in the other 49 states, you can’t legally bet your favorite team, or even your least favorite because they most likely will cover the spread.  Because there is no spread, and no legal betting.

That doesn’t mean we don’t TRY to wrangle a wager.  There’s beaucoup illegal betting going on, in offshore websites, backroom bookies, Sugar Bowl squares, unofficial side wagers among friends, March Madness brackets, Super Bowl pools, and so much more.  The AGA estimates that only 1% of all sports betting is legal (Nevada); the other 99% ($380 Billion with a “B”) goes to the non-legal stuff.  I’d bet it’s larger than that.

Is it because we want to keep the game “pure?”  Yes, the Black Sox scandal rocked baseball, but that was when professional athletes made a pittance and had second jobs in the off-season to make ends meet.  Look me in the eye and tell me LeBron is going to toss a game so he can make an extra $50K on the side.  Chump change, chump.

Is it some other moral reasoning?  That’s doubtful and one I’d fade in a heartbeat.  Even politicians who claim to be anti-gambling have been documented making all sorts of wagers (looking at YOU, Idaho Senator Risch).  Apparently they are anti-gambling only for their constituents.  At least Alabama’s anti-gambling Governor refused his winnings (like Captain Renault in Casablanca – he did get his prize the year previous).
Why don’t we bet on sports?  It’s the money, of course.

Why would a state give you a nearly 50/50 chance on this weekend’s football games when their take from their mega-ball lottery game is sooooooooooo much bigger?  I can see that logic, but frankly, only the sports-statistically challenged play the Lotto.

Yes, there’s the new Daily Fantasy Sports stuff.  Not the same.

There are many who think sports betting will eventually become a thing.  The NBA commissioner, for one.  Mark Cuban for another.  These guys, too (well, the first three in the debate, at least).  Most people in poll after poll

In America, gambling on sports is seen as a bad thing – criminal, sinister, harmful, despicable.  In Europe, the bookmaking profession is considered an honorable one, while sports betting is considered as pastime for many sports fans, one that increases their interest their favorite sporting events.

Online sports betting would be a bonanza if we did it NATIONALLY.  Figure the vig on $380 Billion.  And if it was online, that number would be SOOOO much BIGGER!  Goodbye, deficit!  Hello, improved infrastructure!  And I wouldn’t look wistfully at my Las Vegas friends again when they cash in their Future Bets.*

* I figure by the time I can actually make a legal sports bet here in Oregon, the Lions will no longer be such a long shot for the Super Bowl**.

** Seriously, who am I kidding?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dirty Harry and Uncle Sheldon

Senators Graham and Reid kiss the...uh, feet...of their political benefactor, Sheldon Adelson.

I had just started to relax a bit.  RAWA was dead for 2014, and while I knew 2015 would be another battle, there was time to savor the initial victory.  Then I saw it - the interview with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in last Friday’s Review-Journal, and while the picture was taken at a different time, it was the pic combined with the first paragraph that got my blood boiling.  

It read:  “Reid said Friday that Congress next year will take up legislation to outlaw Internet gambling, and he plans to support a ban while trying to gain an exemption for online poker.”  And Reid was smiling.  Not a “say cheese” smile, but a “shit-eating, I just won the lottery” smile.

I thought he was on OUR side.

No more had I tossed something heavy across the room than my computer beeped, signaling “incoming message.”  It was Mike Qualley, PPA’s Minnesota State Director.  It had the words “Reid,” “Two-faced,” and “Adelson” so I knew I was not alone.

“It’s bad enough Andy Abboud talking about the cake already being baked, and then I read where Reid says, ‘I think the proliferation of gambling on the Internet is not good for our country,’” I screamed. “Mike, what the hell kind of cake was he baking?”

“At this point a very stale cake!” Mike replied.  “Andy Abboud, who is still in a haze about technology from last summer, was trumpeting this rhetoric in late November and early December, this quote from him in WAPO November 20th:  ‘Speaking with Nevada television journalist Jon Ralston, Abboud expressed confidence that a federal ban would be considered in Congress soon, either this year or next year. “The die is cast on this,” Abboud told Ralston. ’the cake is baked.’”

“Worse, Reid thinks that the ONLY way legalized poker can pass Congress is if it is coupled with legislation that prohibits other forms of online gaming.  Like horse racing, maybe?,“ I said with a snark.

Mike met snark with snark.  “Reid has two faces these days on many issues, iPoker included. One face for example, hammering Citizens United and the Koch Brothers for being a big part of CU. Then there's the other face of Reid, in an interview where he went on about Sheldon and how, ‘we all should leave Adelson alone’ and that ‘Adelson wasn't in this for the money.’ I'll get back to this second comment in a minute. Reid seems as confused on overzealous billionaires trying to buy elections and legislation, as Andy Abboud was on technology last summer.”

“Reid says the so-called “gentleman’s deal” with Adelson doesn’t exist,” I said.

Mike laughed…loud and long.  “Gentlemen's deal, there's a laugher!  Adelson can't be trusted in a deal where his name appears on a contract, let alone a handshake. Harry's out in two years!  I mean, look - about Adelson not being in it for the money; if not money, then what exactly is ‘it’ Harry? If you're talking about business, I know of no billionaire or successful businessman/woman who isn't in ‘it’ for the money.  By the way, how’s Harry's bank account these days?”

So it looks like, maybe, Uncle Sheldon has another washed-up politician on his side, I said.  Doesn’t matter - we will prevail - facts over fear.

Mike agreed.  “There isn't much in that area that gets by us, we're fully loaded with facts, and more on the way.” 

And hey - it looks like we’re not the only ones.  ICYMI, here, here, and here.  And from LAST year, Nolan Dalla here.

Just one more reason to stay vigilant.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

First Annual Report Card for Adelson

It's Detention Hall for you, buddy!
Ask yourself this question:  “Since he declared war a year ago, how’s Sheldon Adelson’s battle with online gambling doing so far?”

If you consider the silly ForbesAdelson is winning” article written halfway through the year, and the recent absence of RAWA in legislation for 2014, you might think it’s a draw, or that he’s won a few and we’ve won a few.  But if you look at the vow he made himself about a year ago in an op-ed piece in the Las Vegas Review-Journal (in response to THIS editorial from Howard Stutz), you can keep score with the best of them, and know that Sheldon’s major thrust is a bust.

Overall, has he stopped online gambling?  Not in the least.  Not one iota.  Phhhhht!

How about the things he said in the op-ed?  Well, let’s consider them one at a time.

Adelson: “(Stutz) suggests I will spend ‘millions’ on a campaign to defeat Internet gambling. I have made no such prediction, and frankly this debate shouldn’t be about what I spend or don’t spend.”

Reality:  Not much later Adelson boasted that he was “…willing to spend whatever it takes,” to stop online gambling.  So far, the wallet is wide open.

Adelson:  It (the debate as to whether to permit or prohibit online gambling) should be about two things:
1) Is it bad for the public and our society in general?
2) Is it bad or even dangerous for the gaming industry?

Reality:  Throughout 2014 Adelson and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling have tried to show that online gambling is bad for the public and society.  In his op-ed, he tried to paint two distinct pictures - gambling in person in a casino (like he owns) is GOOD, and gambling online in your PJ’s is BAD.

What he never gets around to explaining, however, is WHY.  

Here was his argument then:
"On the first point, the main argument from Internet gambling proponents is that we need to legalize online gambling in the United States to regulate it, because the government has not been able to stop offshore online gambling sites from doing business in the U.S., or worse, operating websites involved in illegal activity.  So let me get this straight. Proponents say that technology exists to effectively regulate Internet gambling to stop minors, addicted gamblers, money launderers and organized crime from accessing it. But the technology does not exist to block the unscrupulous foreign websites from targeting those same audiences."

Ladies and Gentlemen, this year’s winner of the mumbo-jumbo award!  Seriously, what does that even mean?  It’s supposed to sound scary and smart and factual and accusatory, but it never really answers the question…or even re-states it.

This type of word salad is what CSIG and Adelson’s other minions (Abboud, Jacobus, Thackston, and the four co-chairs of CSIG) are famous for.  Talking about offshore illegal sites in the same breath as legal U.S. sites.  Combining Internet cafes and freemium games like Candy Crush and Yahoo Hold’ em with legal, regulated state sites.  Making fiction (boy steals his Mom’s credit cards and loses $20K “in a nano-second.”) sound like facts.  Scary facts.

The Headless Horseman was scary, too, but not real.  Not much from CSIG is, either.  There is a tremendous amount of scary potential and fear-based predictions tossed into the mix - this COULD happen, this MIGHT happen, the FBI WARNED us about this (five years ago), etc.  And of course, everything they fear MIGHT happen already HAS happened…at a land-based casino.  Like Sheldon’s.

And that’s one more thing - shouldn’t a group dedicated to stopping an Internet activity actually KNOW something about how the Internet works (I’m looking at YOU, Senator Harry “up in the sky” Reid)? 

So that brings us to item two - is it (online gambling) bad or even dangerous for the gaming industry?  Here’s Adelson:
“…the land-based casinos…have a very high risk of losing at least 20 percent from their top line while at the same time risk losing a more significant percentage of their bottom line.”

Reality:  Does Las Vegas based Sands Corporation have anything to fear here?  Are they panic-stricken that the all-important California market could find it easier to play via the comfort of their living rooms and smart-phones (or water bottles in Adelson’s case) than to drive over to the Venetian?  Does the CSIG Website and Facebook page continually post stories about all those “disappointing results” in existing (but young) markets in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey?

You bet.  And then reality really sinks in.  

What do YOU think?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

CEOs, Layoffs, Gambling, and Greed

This isn’t just about the changing world of gambling, but it’s just one industry of many that seems to be going through another metamorphosis that I’ve seen far too often in my lifetime.  I read about the potential bankruptcy of Caesars Entertainment (they’re $25 billion debt), and how that will change the face of Las Vegas (and much of the US’s gambling industry, too).  Of course, Atlantic City has had its share of closures (FOUR!) in 2014 (and Trump Taj Mahal still to come), and elsewhere it seems you read about expansion of gambling here and then the closing (or layoffs) of gambling there.

There is one bright spot in all of this.  We’ll get to that in a moment.

First, full disclosure.  I’ve owned a business for 14 years.  A small business (you’d call it “Mom & Pop” – hardly even a small business).  I have also been involved in other businesses and industries, and three of those firms have gone through “difficulties” like I see reported for the casinos and other troubled businesses of today.  I have witnessed all of these businesses develop that one “bright spot” I mentioned above, though it’s never happened in my business.  But I believe it will happen in the gaming world.

I know it will.  About a year ago, when I first got involved on the “Anti-Sheldon-Adelson” train, I read his editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal explaining his valid reasons for opposing Internet gambling.  One of his valid reasons (the one you never hear him talk much about any more) is the negative financial impact online gaming will have on land-based casinos (at least, the ones not also online).  He states:
With the lack of strategic thought some of our colleagues in the industry have put into this, they have missed the fact that the land-based casinos, particularly regional ones, have a very high risk of losing at least 20 percent from their top line while at the same time risk losing a more significant percentage of their bottom line.

Somewhat tactless, yes, but he has a point.  Now, the question I pose to you is this – when a company faces a financial downturn, a loss of income, increased competition that causes hurt to their bottom line, what do they normally do? 

They lay off workers, of course.  Layoffs are as common as milk; more so during the economic downturn.

And does the CEO also take a hit to his already enormous salary and stock options and other benefits too numerous to mention?

Don’t be silly. 

He usually gets an INCREASE in salary and more stock options, too.  The stock price gets a bump, dividends increase, and stockholders and other officers are happy.  Very happy.  Nearly everyone is happy.

‘cept those workers, of course.

That’s the “bright spot.”  That’s the normal course of events – the company has problems, they layoff hundreds or thousands of workers, and the fat cats get fatter.  You NEVER hear a CEO talk about a cut in pay for himself if the company is in difficulty (Lee Iacocca was the last one I remember, and that was ages ago). 

Lay off the peons and have another glass of champagne!

It’s sickening.  It’s disgusting.  It’s the American way – see here, here, here, here, and here.

How can a company justify both layoffs (because the company is in turmoil) and a big fat raise for the guy who is IN CHARGE?  Because he’s doing such a great job?  Because you’re afraid he’ll go elsewhere?  I’d be glad to be rid of that kind of failrure, frankly.

I worked for three different firms that faced a financial crisis.  Each time the choices were clear – we could all tighten our belts a little and carry on, or the chief could can some folks, keep his big earnings, and we’d muddle through somehow.  In one case the choice was a brand new truck, or laying off three workers. 

It was a really nice truck.

When our ice cream shop suffered a decline, we sucked it up and took less money.  When tourism declined in 2001 (9-11) and 2003 (the War in Iraq), we sucked it up and took less.  When more competition came to town in 200, we sucked it up and took less, reinvesting what we did have to start making our own ice cream so we could offer something different and better.  When we had even more competition and the economic slow-down in 2008 and 2009, we didn’t lay off staff.  We didn’t cut corners.  We kept doing what we always tried to do – make the best product we could – and we personally took less.  We wouldn’t think of doing it any other way.

I know that we COULD have put fewer nuts or chips or flavoring in the ice cream, or used a cheaper (lower butterfat) mix, or yes, laid off some of the summer staff and made everyone work harder for less.  But we didn’t.  We believe that you make it in business by having good people and a good product, and you take what you’ve earned and nothing more. 

What CEO is really worth 400 times the average worker in his company? 

Name one.

I have many pet peeves, but raises for folks who don’t need ‘em while at the same time laying off workers who do is what pisses me off more than most.  If Adelson’s casinos were to be financially hurt because of the rise of Internet gaming, do you really think he’d no longer be one of the richest men in the world?  And can you imagine the headline in the Las Vegas papers if it came to be?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Whatever It Takes is More Than Money

Did we miss anything?
We are no strangers to the phrase, “Whatever it takes.”  It comes from the lips of Sheldon Adelson, suggesting how passionate he is about making his dream of stopping Internet gambling a reality.  It’s really about how much he said he was ready to spend to make it happen – “whatever it takes.”

But lately the idea that his money talks (and politicians walk…hell, they run) has fallen on deaf ears.  Crony capitalism is getting poor reviews lately.  Other conservative voices have been stepping up to point out the obvious – that making new laws for old (moneyed) friends is not good government.  We still have online gambling in three states and others are poised to join them.  RAWA seems like a dead issue for 2014.  The only major “victory” Adelson can claim is the wimp-out of the AGA.

But still Shelly and his Coalition push on.  Why?  Consider this:  What is, instead of Congress acting on the whims of some rich billionaire, they were acting “on the will of the people?” 

All CSIG has to do is convince the American public that Internet gambling is, in fact, everything they say it is and isn’t.  And since it’s my job to monitor the CSIG’s website and Facebook pages, I get to see another side of the “whatever it takes” mantra.  Only in this case it’s not (just) money, but ethics that gets “spent.”  As in they seem to be depleted of any.

We’ve discussed the ads of the Gang of Four previously (CSIG’s four co-chairs) and found them wanting.  The website, which I consider the main communication vehicle, is kinda dull.  But the CSIG Facebook page is where the action is, and the action is anything but on the up-and-up.  Distortions, misleading, and outright lies – yes, all of that on Blanche Lincoln’s appearance on the Huckabee program to be sure, but also a regular occurrence on the Facebook page. Several times each week they post something negative on a variety of issues that kinda sorta sound bad and evil and close akin to their mission.

So far in December we’ve seen:

A) Some internet gambling site has security issues and is shutting down:
After only a month, Yahoo is shutting down it's Texas Holdem Poker portal due to “changes in supporting technologies and increased security requirements...” which have rendered the game “incompatible, insecure, and no longer functioning correctly
If you read the ENTIRE sentence from the article, which was shortened by CSIG (strategically?), you’ll get a different impression:
Yahoo…will no longer offer its current Texas Hold’em game because “changes in supporting technologies and increased security requirements for our Yahoo web pages have rendered the game “incompatible, insecure, and no longer functioning correctly.” (emphasis mine)
In other words, INTERNAL security, not a terrorism threat.  And that’s STILL not the whole story, as it turns out Yahoo is eliminating all Classic Yahoo Parlor games, effective at the start of 2015.  

Yet, Yahoo Games has nothing to do with CSIG, RAWA, or Sheldon Adelson.  This isn’t the type of gaming he wants to stop, and this isn’t the first time CSIG has confused the issue.  They’ve also ripped on so-called “freemium” games, “Internet Cafes,” and of course, they constantly blend unregulated offshore gaming with what transpires in NV, NJ, and DE as if they’re ”all the same.”

B) Old news is new news (and still wrong):
In a national survey conducted last year, 67% of voters indicated a negative view toward Internet gambling.
This was a survey SPONSORED by Adelson, conducted in only four states (California, Kentucky, Virginia and Pennsylvania), and data gathered before ANY state had started LEGAL, REGULATED online gambling.  Most importantly – it wasn’t a “survey” but “push polling,” designed to provoke just the type of answer they reported.  It’s been bashed before, but check this:
Respondents were “…asked to respond to a ‘competing thematic’ question. This type of question seeks responses to two statements, the first one in this survey described internet gambling as: ‘….simply a natural extension of gambling options in this technological age.’  The second statement suggested:there are a number of key problems and potential abuses with online gambling that do not exist with traditional casino gambling.’ (again, emphasis mine)
On average across the four states, 30% of respondents agreed with the first statement, but 57% preferred the second which argued that internet gambling was different to land based gambling.”
Also, please note that 57% does not equal 67%.  And as an eight-year veteran of marketing research, I can assure you that this biased “survey” isn’t worth the paper it’s written on as far as an “accurate snapshot” of the public real attitudes on this issue.

Failing to live up to projections: Nevada's online poker revenue fell in October to the lowest level since the state began releasing revenue data for its web poker sites. These shortfalls leave holes in state budgets that states can't afford.
Three things here – one, this seems to put their “casino on every Smartphone” argument in the dumpster, huh?  Second, they never seem to post these types of stories when revenues are up – just sayin’.  Finally, the end bit about the budgetary shortfalls is nowhere in the story they link to, and, guess what?  C’mon, guess…OK, here’s the money quote from a June story in USA Today about online gambling revenues
In Nevada, officials opted not to make revenue projections for the nascent industry – or to count on the money in its budget.
I know, shocking, huh?  The revenue isn’t even a part of the budget and it’s causing shortfalls (actually, the biggest hole is mineral taxes due to plummeting gold prices).

Add to all this distortion, confusion, and mendacious “news” the repeated postings of Lincoln’s fact-free five minutes; all of the other co-chairs and their “ads” crying about the children, terrorists, organized crime, and the economy; and the two CSIG ads that make LBJ’s “Daisy ad” tame by comparison.

It’s like the old proverb: “Throw enough mud at the wall, and some of it might stick.”

Except it’s not really mud (it IS brown, but it’s a bit nastier).  THIS is what “whatever it takes” means.  Lyin’, cheatin’, confusin’ and distortin’.  And money bags for everyone that feels like changing sides for the money.

Remain vigilant against their immoral alliance.

Monday, December 1, 2014

O, Canada! Wheeze Tendon Guard For Thee!

Calgary eventually won a close game - 20 to 16 - over Hamilton
This really is about poker, online poker to be exact, but first, let me tell you how much I like Canada.  A lot.  I was born in Michigan, near Detroit, the one place in the US where if you went directly SOUTH, you’d run into Canada.  I almost moved there years ago – the year was 1970, and if you wonder why I considered becoming a Canadian, here are some other numbers - 18 (as in years) and 6 (as in draft number).  I remained in the USA because of another number (4F).  But that’s another story.

I like Canada because it’s very similar to the US, but it’s different, and in many ways better.  They are more polite, and in many ways more practical than we Americans are.  They went metric.  Better access to health care.  Prettier money plus they had the good sense to get rid of paper ones and twos and the penny.  And Tim Horton’s.

I’ve visited several Canadian cities - Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, and Vancouver, BC (please note that as a citizen of Oregon we ALWAYS say “Vancouver, BC” to distinguish it from Vancouver the city of 162,000 in Washington just across the Columbia River from Portland - it’s much the same as East Coasters discussing Seattle in Washington, the State).  Every one of them has a football team.  As in the CFL - Canadian Football League.  And, like so many other things about Canada, it’s somewhat different than the American version - and in my opinion, better.

There are many features unique to Canadian football, but here are the biggies: The field is longer, and wider.  There are twelve players on a side and you only get three downs to make 10 yards, not four.  They have no “fair catch” rule.  We only allow one player in the backfield to be in motion - sideways - before the snap.  In the CFL, ALL backfield players can be in motion - IN ANY DIRECTION - before the snap. And then there’s the scoring of “the rouge” - one point - which can best be explained here and seen in its crazy glory here.

And there’s advertising on the field.  I mean, right on the damn field, not just the sidelines.  And, like our soccer teams and WSOP Final Table, advertising patches on the players.  Which gets us to online poker…almost.

I learned about the on-field ads while watching Sunday’s Grey Cup game, which is the CFL’s version of the Super Bowl, except that it’s been going on longer (102 years).  Like Lord Stanley, Earl Grey was intent on giving a trophy to the victors…of the Canadian Senior Hockey League!  Well, that’s what he intended, but since they already had the Allan Cup, it was awarded to the amateur rugby champions of Canada.  The football pros eventually got it in the Thirties.  See, the Canadians even recycle better than we do!

One other thing about the CFL which might make them seem more American - while they eventually saw the wisdom of changing a team’s nickname because it duplicated another teams nickname (the Ottawa Rough Riders became the Redblacks so as to not be confused with the Saskatchewan Roughriders) – they still have the Edmonton Eskimos, the CFL’s answer to the Washington (not the state) R***kins.

Back to the Grey Cup, which was being held in Vancouver, BC.  As you can see from the photo above, there were lots of ads on the field…including one for Bodog (sports - poker - casino).  In doing research for this post, I learned that they are the official “free-to-play sports gaming and poker partner.” They may be official, but not exclusive, as has also done some promo work with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.

Why does Canada have a much-more relaxed attitude about online gambling than we do here in the states?  Because they have a much-more relaxed attitude about ALL gambling than we do here in the states.  You can gamble in all ten provinces and three territories, and they even have a NATIONAL lotto.  Rules for casinos vary by location, and their First Nations also conduct various gambling venues, too. 

As long as it’s sanctioned by the province, it’s OK – and three provincial lotteries – British Columbia, Quebec , and soon Ontario – have or will have their own online gambling sites.  Many more Canadians still play poker at the off-shore sites, and as of yet, there have been no repercussions and no prosecutions to the players.  In fact, some of those “offshore” sites are technically not in Canada, but just outside of Montreal, on the Kahnawake native reserve.

The rules for online gambling are kinda “in flux” as there are some in Canada not happy with the tight relationship Bodog and others have regarding advertising since, technically, Bodog is not a “legal” site sanctioned by any province.  Most of this unhappiness comes from the competition (the Provincial Lotteries).  Sound familiar?

At least they don’t have the 10th richest asshole trying to muscle into their country and setting up shop, and then buying off politicians trying to pass laws.  Oh, wait

Of course, all Bodog is providing to Canadians are “free to play” games.  So did PokerStars, here in the states, too.  Just sayin’.  And speaking of which…Bodog’s agreement with the CFL was for three years, meaning it’s in its last year.  Perhaps another gambling entity, one headquartered in, say, Montreal, will step up.  I’m looking at you, Amaya.

 In short, Canadians have the best of it – Loonies and Two-nies and online gaming, and Tim Horton donuts.  Pretty good, eh?