Mark Daniels: The Marmite Theory

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Public house, Cigarette, Tobacco, Snooker

If I were the owner of a gambling website business, right about now I'd be starting to get very, very worried. I shall explain: I have deduced this...

If I were the owner of a gambling website business, right about now I'd be starting to get very, very worried.

I shall explain: I have deduced this by using the same, slightly dubious, thought-process that I once employed as a young adult to try and find a correlation between girls that liked to eat Marmite and those that enjoyed doing stuff with boys.

I called that idea The Marmite Theory, and it was hugely popular amongst my male friends, though the girls were less than impressed.

This time I am basing my theory on snooker. And it has nothing to do with the debauched mind of a twenty-something-year-old.

Snooker tournaments used to be sponsored by cigarette companies. When the war on cigarettes became too strong, the tournaments changed allegiance to alcoholic beverage companies. Like dart throwers, snookerists would often be seen sitting waiting for their turn, swigging on a beer and puffing happily on a tab.

Who can forget seeing Alex Higgins staggering around a table before devastating his opposition? Or Bill Werbeniuk, who claimed he needed sixteen pints of beer before he could even start a game? He was reputed to drink up thirty pints of lager a day.

In this Orwellian day-and-age, however, where clean living is quickly becoming a legal requirement, tobacco sponsorship has gone from the game of snooker and so has alcohol.

Instead, they're sponsored by the occasional Pukka Pie or, more often, poker websites and other similar gambling organisations. And, like the smoking/drinking heyday, snooker stars aren't immune to gambling's temptations: Steven Hendry and Mark Williams are noted for enjoying a hand or two of cards and, in 2003, Jimmy White won the Poker Million tournament, beating Steve Davis at the final table.

With cigarettes and beer all but eradicated from the sport, how long before the Government turn their hand to the current, prevalent sponsors? I guess it won't be long before we see snooker players being sponsored by Timotei.

Owners of gambling websites have got a bit of time, however, as it appears that the Government's tirade on the tobacco industry isn't finished yet.

A ban on cigarette vending machines has already been given a date, and now a plan to make all cigarette packets look plainer than a packet of Marlboro Lights is to be introduced. And further restrictions on banning smoking around the entrance way to public buildings and segregating sections of public areas such as beer gardens look set to be ram-rodded in to place by The Powers That Be.

I am an advocate for accepting that the smoking ban, such as it is, is in place and we need to get on with building our businesses around the laws that we have. We'll go bust waiting for it to be reversed. But I don't agree with it at all. About the only benefit that I can see to the ban is that my wife doesn't have to wash my clothes quite as often.

There is no denying that the ban, accompanied by the dreary weather we've had since the day it was introduced and the onset of the global-credit-crunchie-recession-thingumy that started pretty much straight after it, is a huge factor in the demise of the Good Ol' Boozer.

Last Monday's announcement that these further factors are being considered might have produced a rather entertaining debate on the Jeremy Whine show, but it was surely also the sound of another nail being driven in to the coffin of those of us clinging on to our old boozers.

Having moved them outside, to then tell those smokers that have stayed with the trade - and there are still some - that they cannot stand out the front of the pub, or can only use certain parts of the open-air beer garden, is nothing short of adding insult to injury.

Add to that the millions of pounds worth of smoking shelters that sprung up in the summer of 2007 - are they now a waste of money, just a bicycle shed attached to the side of our buildings? Mine cost almost £3000 to build and passed all the checks applied to it, but it sits astride one of the rear doors to my building. The introduction of these enhanced smoking laws would render it illegal - and a total waste of money.

Personally, I would rather have spent that three grand on a decent ventilation system and restricted smoking to the public bar in my building, leaving the remainder free for non-smokers and diners and giving everybody, myself included, a bit of choice.

Eventually, though, when smoking has been eradicated and alcohol has morphed in to something akin to the synthehol consumed on the USS Enterprise, the Government will have to turn their attention elsewhere.

At that point, the gambling website owners ought to start quaking.

Love it or hate it, back in the mid-nineties my Marmite Theory was more accurate with the girls than they were prepared to admit...

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