Ever since the ads started on TV about the sports gambling options you can play from your smart phone, I’ve been wary and worried. It seems that the ads encourage you to bet to your hearts content by even “giving” you some money to get you started.
The state I live in and the states which carry this column all have jumped into making legal sports gambling available by phone using apps. I think it is a dumb move — sure to cause much anguish in families or marriages or relationships where one party thinks they can gamble responsibly, and the other party sees things differently. I’m heart sick for families where money is tight and a husband or wife — does not follow the suggestions stated in fine print, “Please gamble responsibly.”
I really don’t know much about legal gambling online or elsewhere. In the past, we have had friends who said they enjoyed gambling in a place like Las Vegas purely for entertainment, and said their approach was to set a serious limit on their gambling efforts. Like allowing themselves only $50 or $40 for an evening’s entertainment betting on some machines. And they don’t go farther.
But … with money so difficult to come by for so many people, I can see how there is a temptation to try an easy way out through betting or playing poker or buying lottery tickets.
The big thing now in this season is betting on pro football — which of course has been going on ever since football started, I’m guessing. The ads on TV or elsewhere make it look so easy and so tempting — they even give you money for your first bet — and not just $1 but maybe $100 or more. Which can lead to gambling becoming yet another addiction like smoking or drinking or meth — and a huge sinkhole for the already small paycheck.
The worst of the ads showed a violent football player (a person of color) coming into a (white) man’s home tearing through a wall. It was sickening. I haven’t seen that one lately but a whole new crop of ads for new betting apps have taken its place.
Now, in one sense, I’m an addict too. Not gambling, but you may recall me admitting that I’m addicted to things like red licorice, coffee (even decaf), and doughnuts. If these things are around, I’ll consume them. I don’t plan on giving up my decaf coffee. But I can’t keep red licorice in the house and so almost weekly I look longingly in the grocery store at the bright red candy, and talk myself out of buying it. So I can identify with those who have compulsions to place a bet, pick up endless lottery tickets, smoke, or drink. Or perhaps we could extend the problem to those of us who may spend too much time online, on Facebook, TikTok or even just reading. Even though all these things can be entertaining and a not-evil pastime, when it takes over our lives or just our free time, that’s where we need to draw a line or some boundaries.
Compulsive gamblers (or those with a substance abuse problem) often develop a tolerance and need or want higher and higher stakes (or drugs/alcohol) to reach the thrill or satisfaction that can come with these habits. It can be an emotional problem — with severe financial consequences and even ruination. Most will deny they have any problem. Ultimately, if your loved one is addicted to gambling, you need to protect your accounts or credit cards. And convince your partner to get help. That’s a big big ticket, I know.
I’m thankful I am not in a situation like this but the ease of gambling today — online and with “free money” with funky names makes today’s scenario especially dangerous for loved ones. I hope and pray you or your family member can avoid the ruination of deep money/gambling problems.
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