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Top celebrities go mad for... DOMINOES!

This might just be the most curious and improbable gambling story of the decade. Michael Coverdale reports on the intriguing phenomenon of Hollywood A-listers going crazy for their domino fix

Famed for wild parties, excessive use of drugs and alcohol and the occasional sex-tape; A-list celebrities are such a global fascination that millions cling to their every word, meaning that a Twitter update describing what a superstar has just had for breakfast somehow becomes ‘big news’.

However, could this all be about to change? Apparently so. Step forward A-list powerhouses Eva Longoria and Victoria Beckham who have recently gone into business together to open a restaurant, with a somewhat implausible theme: their shared fascination for the game of dominoes.

This new venture has followed a trend in Hollywood, which has seen the A-list celebrities fall into a serious habit of playing the game.

It seems like these gravity-defying celebrities, many of whom are now into their thirties and forties are now beginning to show their age, with the likes of Demi Moore and Charlize Theron preferring a game of ‘doms’ to the party lifestyle for which they are so famous.

Earlier this year Demi and her partner Ashton Kutcher hosted a dominoes party with Vanity Fair magazine and Bally in aid of the Art of Elysium children’s charity, with Paris Hilton, Eva Longoria, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth and Salma Hayek among the big names in attendance.

The version of dominoes they play has been labelled Hollywood Dominoes. It has now been distributed across America, with its owners labelling it “the gaming sensation sweeping across Hollywood and beyond”.

These distributors believe that the reason for the apparent change in attitude of these superstars is down to the constant invasion into their private lives. According to Hollywood Domino: “The Hollywood paparazzi is more intrusive than ever before and as a result major Hollywood stars are choosing to avoid the limelight and stay at home to either host or attend game nights.”

While dominoes has not enjoyed the sleekest of reputations over the years, the manufacturers of the game have gone all out to change the game’s stereotypes, describing Hollywood Domino as a game “allowing players to become the director of their own film” where they can apparently “choose their genre and start competing to create a ‘movie reel’ before their competitors”. They describe the game as a “next generation dominoes game”.

This incarnation of dominoes is a variation of the Latin version of the game, and it’s believed to have found its way to Sunset Boulevard following the return home of a cousin of Salma Hayek after a trip to her home country of Mexico. Since then, the game has spread throughout Hollywood leaving the tabloid press scratching their heads as to how they can sensationalise Charlize beating Demi in a game of dominoes (something that actually happened in the final of the charity event in February).

Online boom

The trend in Hollywood has seen the game grow online. One website which has enjoyed rapid growth since its launch is DominoesStars.com. According to spokesman Ethan Halevi, the line of people falling for dominoes will continue to grow rapidly.

“The domino phenomenon has only just begun,” he enthuses. “DominoesStars is gaining such strength in the gaming industry that it’s beginning to draw the attention of online gamers and gamblers as to what it has to offer in comparison to other gaming products. Online gamers are soon to realise that the game of dominoes has all the challenge they could possibly hope for.”

Bigger than poker?

Some believe that the game has such potential that it can compete with the monopoly enjoyed in the gambling industry by poker. Commissioner of the Professional Dominoes Association Jay King shares this view: "It is entirely possible that dominoes can become as popular as poker, at least as far as television appeal goes. Poker players tend to hide their emotions so that their opponents won’t be able to read them, while domino players tend to be animated, colourful, talkative and downright funny – which makes for great TV.”

The remarketing of the game of dominoes can only be compared in modern day sporting terms to that of Notts County in League Two of the Football League; an old, unfashionable club on the brink of extinction that has managed to become one of the most talked about teams in English football in a matter of months following an injection of credibility and cash.

But although this may be a common British perspective of the sudden change in perspective of dominoes, it may not be the case in other parts of the world.

The Latin American version of the game that inspired Hollywood Domino has long enjoyed great popularity in that part of the world. Actor Luis Guzman has described the domino table as “an arena where the very drama of life plays out: love, hatred, revenge.” In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Guzman said “I know best friends who stopped talking to each other for years because of one game. I know a guy who jumped out of a second story window and broke both legs after losing a domino game.”

The sort of passion for game in Latin America that Guzman talks about is a far cry from scenes in working men’s clubs up and down the country every Saturday night.

The buzz hits the UK

While all this talk of Hollywood Dominoes and A-list American celebrities getting involved in the game may seem a far cry from life here in the UK; last November, the game’s glamour reached London with Ridley Scott, Sienna Miller and Eva Herzigova competing in a tournament at Mosimann’s in Belgravia.

This trend seems set to continue as Gambling has been invited to an A-list dominoes night in London this month, where we will learn first hand about the ‘buzz’ game currently being enjoyed by the stars.

Nevertheless, while the rest of the world catches up with Hollywood’s latest craze, it seems that we may be too late; there might already be another game soon to be adopted by the rich and famous.

After speaking to GameColony.com, they again confirmed the celebrity interest in the domino aspect of the website, as they told us: “In regards to celebrities enjoying the healthy online competition that we feature we can say that a quite a few already do.”

This did not come as much of a surprise, whereas what they went on to tell us did:

“We do not reveal any names for security and privacy reasons but there's a certain Brit who is deeply involved in US soccer now who enjoys a few cribbage games now and then.”

Whether that’s true or just a publicity stunt, who knows? We invite them prove it! But suffice to say we won’t be running a competition as to whom they are referring.
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