Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

The Eternal Allure of Gambling


I just spent three days in the land of milk and money - Las Vegas. There is something refreshingly honest about the place: it's all about money and it knows it. It doesn't pretend to be anything else.

No doubt some of the architects think that their work has some importance of its own: the re-creations of Venice, Camelot, Paris, Egypt, and New York. Battling pirate ships and erupting volcanoes aside, once you enter the themed palaces, they are all the same: crap tables, blackjack tables, roulette wheels, and thousands upon thousands of slot machines - all promising to give you a fun time while you lose your money in the pursuit of a possible fortune.

The lure of gambling has existed throughout recorded history but has never gripped the millions who now participate. We play state-sponsored lotteries, visit tribal and other legal casinos, create special accounts for Internet gaming, bet the horses, bet the dogs, bet on sports, fights, anything where we can catch the excitement of beating the odds.

Moralists worry that a large percentage of those who risk their money, are those who cannot afford to risk anything: the poor, the unemployed, the minimum wage fringe who, at the best of times, barely hang on to the basement rung of the economic ladder. They argue that gambling should be a pleasant pursuit for those who can afford to lose a reasonable amount, using the money they have earned for purchasing excitement, entertainment, and momentary escape.

Who's kidding who?

For the middle class gamblers who bet on the super bowl, the derby, the occasional lottery ticket, or visit the casinos once or twice a year, gambling is a diversion, a fun time, a little bit of excitement sandwiched between the realities of career advancement, building a nest egg, raising children, and doing their civic duties. The thrill of a potential win is the lure of proving their ability to compete, to come out on top, to better their opponents, the pros, the odds, the morning line. It is a personal challenge that can boost their self-confidence when they win but has few negative effects when they lose because their real self-image relates to the important aspects of their lives, separate from their gaming ventures.

It is those who cannot afford to lose who become addicted to the lure of chance. Stuck in minimum wage employment, without the education, the skills, or the entrepreneurial savvy to work their way up the social and economic pyramid, they see gambling as the promise of a permanent way out, a tsunami that can sweep them instantaneously to the top, an overnight millionaire. A lottery ticket, a slot machine, a pick 6 wager, plays no favorites. The poor, the homeless, the forgotten, the have-nots, all compete with the rich and famous on an equal footing. They become hooked on continued gaming because it is the only chance of reaching the lifestyle they want to achieve.

A successful businessman wins a quarter of a million dollars and it is nice: a bonus, a chance to splurge on new toys, the opportunity to retire outstanding debts, or expand their company with a welcome infusion of capital.

A working-class-stiff wins a quarter of a million dollars and it is truly life-changing. A janitor, a gardener, a fast food worker, a guard - with a windfall like that, they can turn their back on the roach-infested slum apartment and move to a better neighborhood or buy a small house and a new car. They can quit their hated job, help their families, participate in the good life they have only previously experienced as outsiders, looking in.

The problem is that it is non-sustainable. Winning what seems like an enormous amount of money seldom leads to rational investment: education, skill upgrades, saving for future college costs or business opportunities. Moving from nothing to something, in an instant, is not an event likely to produce rational planning. For those whose monetary and emotional needs have never been truly met, immediate gratification is the direction of choice. A lifetime of denial demands a certain degree of self-indulgence when the means for it become miraculously available.

Is it any wonder that a large percentage of lottery winners file bankruptcy within five years of their win? The moves, the changes, the life enhancements that substantial wins provide are ephemeral.

In the short run, they provide an exciting exit from a black tunnel. In the long run, such a win turns negative - because the dream has become a reality, even if only for a brief moment, returning to prior levels of existence becomes an even more painful form of imprisonment.

The need to recapture that dream, and perhaps maintain it this time if a mega-million prize can be snatched, keeps the gambling industry thriving and the promises of dream fulfillment entice us all, most especially the poor, into one more venture, one more ticket, one more chance.

Virginia Bola is a licensed clinical psychologist with deep interests in Social Psychology and politics. She has performed therapeutic services for more than 20 years and has studied the effects of cultural forces and employment on the individual. The author of an interactive workbook, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge, she can be reached at http://drvirginiabola.blogspot.com


MORE RESOURCES:

Atlanta Journal Constitution

Narrow path offers opening for casino gambling in Georgia | www.ajc.com ...
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Want more news? Sign up for free newsletters to get more of the AJC delivered to your inbox. Gov. Nathan Deal, long opposed to gambling's expansion in Georgia, made a surprising policy shift Monday that could one day clear the way for the first casinos ...
Gov. Deal opposes gambling, but would he allow it? - 11AliveWXIA-TV

all 4 news articles »


The Courier-Journal

Churchill says online games not casino gambling
The Courier-Journal
Churchill Downs Inc., having bet on the future of free games played online, is asking a federal judge to dismiss a case that contends those games are illegal casino gambling. Last year's purchase of Big Fish Games by Churchill was the Louisville-based ...



AMERICAblog

Casino Gambling Push Unfolds in Georgia
Southern Political Report
Stephens, who heads the state House of Representatives economic development committee, says MGM's Atlanta location proposal would create 3,500 jobs and offer casino gambling as opposed to past projects that just involved video slot machines.
Gambling is not a viable or desirable method of job creationAMERICAblog (blog)

all 14 news articles »


My Turn: On casino gambling, hypocrisy is rampant
Concord Monitor
Charitable gaming has also become very popular. It's a threat to regular casino gambling. The representatives who talk about addiction don't mention the smoker's addiction to smoking, alcohol consumption that can be purchased along our highways, etc.



SunHerald.com

Professional poker player sues casino that claims he cheated | Business | The ...
SunHerald.com
The casino claims the technique called edge sorting that was used by Ivey and Sun violates New Jersey casino gambling regulations. The lawsuit claims the cards were defective in that the pattern on the back of them was not uniform. The cards have rows ...

and more »


New York Post

Widow of renowned magician 'tricked' into giving away $1M | New York Post
New York Post
After Santos Molina met Maurine in 2005, he “introduced her to casino gambling and encouraged her drinking habits in order to further his scheme to systematically loot her assets,” William Russo, the lawyer for Maurine's family, says in the Surrogate's ...



NJ.com

What American Pharoah racing at Monmouth Park could mean for the Jersey Shore ...
NJ.com
The key to Monmouth Park's long-term fortunes, insiders say, is to model the racetracks in neighboring states that are flush with casino gambling revenue. But that goal is a long way from fruition. That's because New Jersey's quest to bring legal ...
Monmouth gets spruced up for visit from Pharoah | Daily Racing FormDaily Racing Form

all 20 news articles »


Orlando Sentinel

State asks Seminole Tribe when it will shut down blackjack tables - Orlando ...
Orlando Sentinel
Florida could create thousands of new jobs and lots of taxes with casino gambling STATE wide. Disney is blocking it in Orlando because Disney is GOD in Central Florida. Isn't the Lottery gambling? How about scratch off tickets? Both are SUCKER bets.

and more »


Wicked Local Wareham

STATEHOUSE ROUNDUP: No rush for gold - News - Wicked Local Wareham - Wareham, MA
Wicked Local Wareham
The Legislature was also plotting a strategy to pad its stats before the August recess, the casino gambling landscape shifted underfoot, and the coalition that brought Massachusetts earned sick time now wants a 9 percent income tax on millionaires. If ...

and more »


Atlanta Journal Constitution

5 things to know tonight: Heated confrontation over Confederate flags in ...
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Narrow path offers opening for casino gambling in Georgia: Gov. Nathan Deal — despite his opposition to casino-style gambling — made a surprising policy shift today that could eventually clear the way for the first casinos in Atlanta. Read more.

and more »

Google News


Advertisement



Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.