Picture this situation: A man who is having problems at home and is low on cash decides to go to a casino and try his luck. He places small bets at first, wins a few times, and feels great. Eventually the risk becomes too little for him, and he begins to bet more. He begins losing the bigger bets and soon loses all of his money. He is trapped in an emotional rut as he remembers the great feeling he got from winning, and begins borrowing money to try to cover his debts. His gambling accelerates to a frenzied pace, while he continuously denies the severity of his problem. He believes that just one huge win will solve all of his problems. Meanwhile he loses his wife who does not trust him anymore. His habit eventually becomes the focal point of his life.
Now I’m not saying gambling is wrong, I enjoy it as a small-time hobby, but I think of it as entertainment only. You can’t expect to win every time you gamble. I’ve even felt trapped in a rut similar to the man in the story above, where I thought I could win all my money back, and it never happened. It was then that I realized gambling should be done strictly for entertainment. Habitual gambling, or gambling addiction, is a danger to the public.
Gambling is defined as any behavior that involves the risking of money or valuables on the outcome of a game, contest, or other event that is partially or totally dependant on chance. Gambling has been going on in America for hundreds of years. In historical America, lotteries were used for liquidating property, and poker and other card games were played as an after-dinner activity. In 1991 gross gambling profits were at an estimated 100 billion dollars. One year later in 1992 the figures jumped to an estimated 300 billion dollars. This shows that gambling has recently grown in popularity and is an issue in today’s society.
Problem gambling behavior results in negative consequences including family problems, peer relationship troubles, legal and money troubles, anxiety, and moodiness. Family problems come from the fact that dangerous gamblers are always asking for money from friends and family, staying out late, and lying to their significant other about money issues. This puts a strain on family relations to the point where the gambler can no longer be trusted at home. Peer relationships suffer in the same way. Friends and peers can no longer trust a problem gambler, and moodiness from debt makes relationships worse.
Legal and money troubles arise from obvious reasons. Gambling addicts progressively bet more and more money in an attempt to score big or win back lost bets. In most cases, this never happens, and in some cases gambling addicts fall into legal troubles when they can’t pay back the loans taken out to support their habit. All of these problems lead to extreme anxiety and severe moodiness. Former addicts say that they had no control over their impulses and there was no way out other then to get the next big score. These factors are all reasons why gambling addiction is dangerous to the public.
Some people would argue that habitual gambling is not dangerous to the public. They say it is clean fun, if controlled, and that Americans approve of gambling because 90 percent of adults have tried it at least once. America does not necessarily approve of dangerous gambling, however, and I’m sure America does not approve of the addictive habits, the deception, or the debts dangerous gambling causes. People argue that gambling has brought in money that is used for the public good. In reality, gambling such as lotteries bring money into the state, but at the expense of the public. To have one winner, there must be billions of losers. Many other people support gambling because they believe the high price of food, clothing, and other expensive products in daily life have made gambling an increasingly tempting option to make big money in a small period of time. No matter how tempting gambling might be for these reasons, this doesn’t eliminate the fact that people lose more than they win. Why else are casinos so big and so rich? People trying to win big to pay for things in their daily life will in most cases end up losing all their money.
The real question is: Is gambling for entertainment or for money? As humans, we are always tempted by money and we always want more money. Gambling is a game of chance and luck; we either win or lose, and the chances of losing are always greater than winning. Gambling addicts become trapped in a maze of wins and losses. They can never win enough to cover their debts and their lives fall apart around their habit. For most people, gambling is something they do occasionally as a form of recreation. When the game is over, they move on to other non-gambling activities. Remember to keep it that way, and to know when to quit. You will be glad you did.
Shaffer, H. J., and Hall, M. N. Estimating the Prevalence of Adolescent Gambling
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Svendsen, Roger. (1998). Beyond the Odds. Gambling and College Students.