The Dangers of Gambling

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Since gambling is not a drug or alcohol, people find its addiction less damaging. But, the truth is - gambling can wreak havoc on a person’s life. Though you can’t die because of overdose, its addiction causes serious damage to the welfare of individuals and everything related to them.

I have a first hand experience of the damage that gambling can cause. A family member of mine struggled with a gambling addiction. This addiction hurt many aspects of their life, but one area that was affected in a major way was their financial well-being. From digging a deep hole of debt to even stealing some money. The gambling affected my family member's life so much that they are still trying to recover from the ramifications that it left. 

Because of my first hand experience with gambling addictions, I wanted to highlight the disease and detail the dangers that are associated with it. 

Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

  1. Being tight-lipped about gambling - People with gambling addiction always try to hide it from others. Consequently, they’ll lie to their family and friends. 
  2. Running after losses - Gamblers often justify their losses by luck. And to recover their losses, they get badly trapped in the game. The more they chase their losses, the tighter the trap gets.
  3. Betting more funds - Gambling gives an adrenaline rush to the gamblers. Addicted gamblers borrow more money to enjoy that kind of a rush they desire. But sadly, the more they gamble, they more they fail.
  4. Borrowing dollars - No matter what, gambling addicts always find a way to pay their debts. The urge is so strong that they may even borrow money to pay their debts.
  5. Not able to stop gambling - In spite of knowing the dangers associated with compulsive gambling, they just cannot control their desire to play.
  6. Gambling to distract - When people gamble to divert attention from problems and stress, they’re addicted. It’s more than entertainment for them. It’s like an escape route for their problems. 
  7. Performing fraud - Problem gamblers resort to trickery and scam to continue gambling. To arrange money for their addiction they get involved in crime and misdeeds.  
  8. Getting irritated - When drug addicts or alcoholics are kept away from drugs or alcohol, they become irritated. The same happens with gambling addicts. They become agitated and irritated when they don’t get to gamble. 

Dangers associated with Gambling

  1. Financial crisis - The first and foremost thing to get affected by gambling is one’s finances. Gamblers will consume every bit of their savings to continue playing - thus welcoming financial crisis. It’s often seen that addicts lose or surrender their jobs in order to quench their thirst for gambling.  Hence, obstructing their main source of income. 
  2. Troubled relationships - Not only do finances get hurt, but also relationships suffer when gambling becomes an addiction. Trust is the primary bond that binds people together. When people lie to their family and friends about gambling, the trust gets broken and relationships are damaged to the core.   
  3. Health hazards - Gambling addicts are exposed to massive stress levels. They stress over the lies and the financial hole that they have dug. Prolonged high stress can cause diseases like high blood pressure, mental disorders, anxiety, heart problems, and so on.  

Reasons to Avoid Gambling

Casinos Profit, Not You

Have you ever seen those Taj Mahals called casinos? For those casinos to be so fancy and nice, they have to be making money. They are making money, because the cards are stacked against the player. The odds are not in your favor at the casino. You are more likely to lose than win. 

For example, I found a website that provided the payback of slot machines at given casinos. It looked like the casinos gave back around 90% of the amount that was played in the slot machine. The 90% means that the slot machine pays out $9 for every $10 put in the machine (9/10 = 90%).

Therefore, if you go to the casino with a set amount of money and continue to play the slots, on average you will be losing ten percent of your money each time. That's the ten percent that the Casino makes on each and every player. For the fun of it, let's look at what happens to your ten dollars at the slot machine based on the 90% payback rule:

  • Put in $10, Return $9 
  • Put in $9, Return $8.10
  • Put in $8.10, Return $7.29
  • Put in $7.29, Return $6.56
  • Put in $6.56, Return $5.90
  • Put in $5.90, Return $5.31
  • Put in $5.31, Return $4.78
  • Put in $4.78, Return $4.30
  • Put in $4.30, Return $3.87

I'm going to stop there. As you can see, making 90% percent back gives a shimmer of hope, however, as you continue to play you continue to lose money. 

It's Not Entertainment to Lose Money

As I have mentioned many times, I like to listen to the Dave Ramsey podcast. One day a caller asked about the morals of playing games at the casino for entertainment. Dave's response was classic as he stated, "I don’t think it’s a moral problem. I just don’t understand it. That’s how I feel about it. I do not get a thrill out of losing money that I’ve worked for. That’s not entertaining to me. And you’re not going to win. The house wins. That’s how they build those palaces called casinos."

His response was much longer and you can read or listen to the rest at the following link, but it is exactly how I feel about gambling. It is not enjoyable for me to throw away money that I worked so hard to earn. I would much rather spend my money on any other trip than a gambling trip that throws my money down the toilet.

Lottery Tickets Prey on The Poor

Why do the poor and middle class tend to play the lottery and wealthy don't? It's a sense of hope. These people believe that their only chance to become rich is to play the lotto. They keep playing and they win, so they continue to play. But over the long run, they are losing money.

An article on Vox, did a great job of detailing the four ways that the lottery preys on the poor. The article by Alvin Chang uses data from the Connecticut lottery in his research. The four ways he found are listed below:

  1. Most lottery tickets are bought in poor neighborhoods.
  2. Most lottery tickets are bought in places with more minorities.
  3. Most poor people believe that the lottery is their only hope to build wealth.
  4. The lottery preys on vulnerable people.

In his article, he dives deeper into each area by using graphs and statistics. One statistic that jumped out to me: "Nationwide, people who make less than $10,000 spend on average $597 on lottery tickets — about 6 percent of their income." That's crazy and sad. Somebody could be using that money to build wealth, instead they are throwing it away at the lotto.

Further Reading: Gambling Offers a False Sense of Hope by Dave Ramsey

Not Gambling is the Best Way to Avoid Becoming an Addict

It has been over twelve years since we dealt with my family members struggle with gambling addiction. Still to this day, I have not stepped in a casino to gamble. I have never felt that rush of a big win only to be disappointed with a major loss down the road. I just don't want to go down the same path as my family member.

I have taken drastic measures to make sure that I never find myself in that position. You may think, "It's just one game" and "I can control my spending." However, you don't know what triggers that emotion to get hooked on the game. It could be the simplest of things and you can't recover.

The best way to avoid an addiction is to abstain. The best way to build wealth is to save, not waste your money on games that are set up to make you lose money. And even if you get that big win, statistics show that 65%-70% percent of lotto winners lose everything in 7-15 years. That's not the path that I want to follow!

What are your thoughts? Do you gamble? Would you make the same decision that I did?

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