I was prone to being a gambler as a child. I bought ten dollars worth of ‘lucky numbers’ when I was still in primary school and had my first big win when, among my $30 earnings, I scooped the big $20 prize! Big bucks for a little kid in the late 70s. I told my mum and she said, with horror: “Rob, that’s gambling!” My reply: “Not if you win”. I then graduated to spending all my pocket money on ‘footy cards’. I wasn’t interested in the gum inside, but in completing each team set with the rare cards that I could never find anyway. I’d spend more and more and end up with four or five of the same which no-one wanted in the schoolyard swaps. I had to stop the urge to keep going back for more.
It was great to be able to curb the ‘rush’ whilst in secondary school, because the stakes get higher later in life. But even for those who are not problem gamblers, the TV ad line is well worth considering: “Think of what you’re really gambling with.” Can you justify spending money on gambling when you probably won’t win? The chances of scooping the standard Saturday lotto pool with an 8-game entry is literally one in a million. Thoughts of winning big can become a driving influence in spending more and more so that you quickly find you are spending a fair percentage of your earnings on gambling over time. This takes potentially takes away from other areas of life.
Here are some questions I’d like to pose to anyone who gambles.
1. Can you really afford to lose the money you are gambling? There is no certain win…ever.
2. Do you realise that the odds are always stacked against you ? One win is ‘lucky’ and the next is likely to be a long way away. You always lose in the end (unless you have inside knowledge, as with company research for the stock exchange, or horse research in the racing industry).
3. Is gambling against your usual values? For example, are you a Christian who says that you trust in God to supply all your needs but then secretly hoping a win will supply all your needs?
4. Could you invest the money you gamble on average into a bank account (or even a jar at home) to accrue sure money to spend on a worthwhile treat e.g. building relationship with your kids by taking them out for a one-on-one lunch?
5. Can you really differentiate between an occasional ‘fling’ and a tendency to be wasting money? How do you fare in relation to the $1,100 annual average gambled away each year?
6. Can you be accountable and honest about your gambling and then allow someone you trust to determine what they really think about your situation?
7. Can you go for a month without spending any money at all on any pure chance gambles? If you feel any anxiety over this at all, then maybe there really is a problem that needs to be discussed!