Listen up folks, there is no gambling at Rick's Cafe, no fighting in the War Room and there is absolutely, positively no betting allowed at the New York Stock Exchange ( NYX). Come again? Yep, it's true. On Tuesday, the group in charge of regulations at the NYSE sent out a memorandum to its members prohibiting "certain gambling activities on NYSE premises." According to the warning, "book making, numbers games, or other organized for-profit betting activity relating to sporting activities, other outside events or games of chance" are all banned under the rules of the exchange. In other words, buying risky Chinese IPOs from a guy who takes a cut of every transaction is no problem, but betting on the Giants football game this weekend will get you punished. Oh Big Brother! And speaking of football, you floor traders better not let NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer catch you picking Super Bowl boxes next month. Those "sporting event pools" are off limits too. In fact, even "the display or visible possession of gambling devices" will get you in hot water, so please hide your iPhones when calling your bookie. Look Duncan, why don't you give the guys a break and let them gamble illegally when they aren't gambling legally? It's a victimless crime and with electronic trading taking over, they don't have much to do anyway. Besides, you clearly rolled the dice with that big Deutsche Boerse merger, and all the uncertainty over that deal is obviously keeping a lid on your stock.
If anything, you should be spending your time lobbying regulators ahead of the European Commission's Feb. 1 vote on the merger. Right now, that's the long shot you should be worried about. Not some guys practicing their profession. -- Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York.