Lancaster University

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Lecturer recreates hoopla game for trading standards

06/01/2010 06:50:04

Dr David Lucy from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics has played a crucial role in an investigation into the operation of a hoopla stall in Blackpool. Trading standards officers were called in after members of the public complained about the stall on the Golden Mile, where customers attempted to land hoops over pegs in order to win a stuffed toy or bottle of champagne.

Trading standards officers secretly filmed two girls carrying out a test purchase at the stall where they paid for five attempts at the game. Items from the stall were later seized and passed to Dr Lucy, who often helps evaluate forensic evidence for the police. He recreated the game in laboratory conditions with the help of students and staff from his department.

Dr Lucy said: "What we found is that you could place many of the hoops over the pegs, but the pegs were cut at an angle such that all low angle trajectories were precluded from succeeding. An attempt made employing a high trajectory would require the hoop to be thrown over a parabola which would be on the whole 1.4 meters high, and with an accuracy of half a millimetre. We made nearly 600 throws and observed no successes, and from this calculated that in excess of 2,600 attempts would have to be made to stand a high probability of observing a single successful throw."

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