Hoopla! University lecturer proves the physics behind 'fixed' game

By Andrew Jackson on May 26, 10 10:17 AM

A UNIVERSITY lecturer has revealed how he helped show that gamblers were being fleeced on a seaside hoopla stall in Blackpool.

Punters attempted to land hoops over pegs without knowing that they stood a 2,600/1 chance of being successful and winning a stuffed toy or a bottle of champagne.

Trading standards officers in Blackpool stepped in following complaints from members of the public about the stall on the resort's famous Golden Mile.

They secretly filmed two girls aged 14 and 15 carrying out a test purchase at the stall where they paid £3 for five attempts at the game.

Items from the stall were later seized and passed to Dr David Lucy, from Lancaster University, who often helps evaluate forensic evidence for the police.

He recreated the game in laboratory conditions as students and staff from the mathematics and statistics department chanced their arm.

Dr Lucy explained: "What we found is that you could place the hoop over the pegs but throwing it into the air from two metres it would have to land precisely. The pegs were cut at such an angle that the trajectory the hoop needed to take just would not work.

"We made nearly 600 throws without any joy which led to me calculating on the geometry that one would have to try 2,600 times to stand a reasonable chance of being successful."

His experiment led to a successful prosecution by Blackpool Council of two men who admitted breaching gambling laws.

Philip Williams, 53, and Darren Casey, 36, of Blackpool were ordered by Blackpool magistrates to perform unpaid work for the community. Williams was also handed a 14-week suspended jail sentence


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