The Million Pixel March (to the roulette table)

I get a lot of email from people I don’t know. Most of it is asking me for information, while some of it is just plain strange. I deem an elect number of emails worthy of along to you. You might remeber Absecon Al’s rants against Red Square at Tropicana AC (also here, with photos) . Al hasn’t been successful in his crusade, but he fought the good fight.

Anyway, today I got an email from Million Pixel Gamble. I still can’t decide whether this is an honest attempt to make gambling history, a clever scam, or just a bad idea. First, here’s the email:

Million Pixel Gamble is the creation of three twentysomething guys with a mission – to make a million dollars and then possibly blow it all on one roll of roulette.We are selling one million pixels for a dollar each. Once we reach one million pixels sold we will take the money generated by the sales and take it to the casino. It’s everyman’s dream, gamble like a millionaire on someone else’s dime.

The idea behind the Million Pixel Gamble is simple. We want to raise one million dollars so we can make one huge bet! That’s where you come in. You can purchase pixels on our website (minimum 100 pixels or $100) to display your company’s logo, image or text as a link to your website. Each purchase of 100 pixels buys you a box. As you can see we do not have one million boxes on our website; we have ten thousand boxes. Each box is 10 pixels x 10 pixels or 100 pixels. The reason you have to buy one box (100 pixels) is because any amount of pixels smaller than that is not visible to the users and therefore no one would see your ad. Your ad, placed within our boxes, is a hyperlink back to your website. So not only are people viewing your ad, but they can immediately jump to your company’s homepage.

Pixel marketing is the latest craze in internet advertising. Through pixel advertising you will see growth in your company’s site traffic. Pixel advertising is also an innovative and inexpensive way to market your company. For $100 you can buy advertising for your website that will last 10 years! Pixel advertising is a totally new and revolutionary form of advertising. By purchasing pixels now you ensure that you will be buying at one of the lowest prices on the web. Because this form of advertising is so new you will be able to become part of web history!

We do all the work for you by creating a website with buzz and a multitude of visitors. Consider us your taxi. You pay us to drive you to where you want to go. If you are looking to create traffic to your website, we can help. If you are looking to be a part of a cool new form of advertising, we can help. If you are just dying to see someone gamble one million dollars on a single spin of a roulette wheel, then buy a pixel box now. In exchange for your purchase of our pixel real esate you get to ride shotgun on the craziest ride ever developed for the web!

The Pixel Guys

Is this a scam? The “three twenty-somethings” behind it don’t identify themselves, which raises a BIG red flag. Coming from a security/surveillance background (and having done a lot of reading in the history of both gambling and con artistry), I’m generally suspicious of people who offer to make money by gambling.

But that’s the thing–they don’t offer people anything besides advertising space. They frankly admit this is a stupid idea, and that they may very well lose the money. If they win, they keep the money (minus taxes).

On the plus side, they referenced not only Napoleon Dynamite but also Passenger 57, which though not a gambling movie has perhaps the best single gambling one-liner ever uttered. There was absolutely nothing in the plot or previous conversation about roulette, but then Wesley Snipes unleashed an absolute gem. I wonder if it was ad-libbed?

There’s also the funniest admission ever from a prospective gambling scheme:

So hopefully now all we have to do is add the crystals and hope that doesn’t fry our balls.

There is a definite chance of that happening. Here’s why:

First, there is the issue of finding a casino that will take the bet. It’s not like you just walk into a casino and bet whatever you want. If that happened, there would be so much volatility in the bacc pit that casinos would be going under all the time. It still happens: even with betting limits, a lucky weekend for a real whale can really dent a casino’s bottom line. Some people on the site were suggesting that they play a number straight for the 35 to 1 payoff. There is no casino that I know that would allow that kind of bet. As businesses, they simply won’t expose themselves to that kind of loss.

Generally, if you want to bet a lot of money, casinos want you to do it over a long period. This lets the house edge kick in. “Spot play” really makes the bean counters nervous. If Benny Binion were still around, your max bet would be your first wager, but he’s not. It’s fitting that Harrah’s, one of the more risk-averse companies around, owns the Horseshoe name now. But there’s a reason for it: they know the business of smart gambling.

Second, if you wanted to have the best chance of winning, you would play craps or baccart, not roulette. American roulette has notoriously bad odds, with a 5.3% house edge. Craps (on the pass line), on the other hand, is 1.4%; play double odds, and you’re down to 0.6%, an almost even-money bet.

Third, the live web broadcast might violate both state and federal laws, and someone (not me) could argue that the whole scheme is a violation of the Wire Act: people are sending money across state lines and directing someone to place a wager for them.

We’ll have to see how this develops. I want to make it clear that I’m not endorsing this site–I don’t know these guys. I’m just sharing the information. As Aristotle said: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

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