When gambling becomes an issue

If you can’t afford to lose it, then don’t bet it. After all, the house always wins.
If you can’t afford to lose it, then don’t bet it. After all, the house always wins. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus

How much money are you going to win from March Madness? Actually, the better question is how much are you going to lose?

There is no doubt that when you have money on a game it is more fun to watch. Hell, I think that’s the only reason they still broadcast tennis. But what is not fun is your landlord showing up at your door to tell you the rent is past due. Even worse when he or she has a baseball bat. I guess there are worse things a landlord could do, ask Chapman Housing.

I am not sitting here telling you not to gamble. I even think they should loosen gambling laws and allow people to bet all they want. But I would like to share my thoughts, as a reasonable budgeter, on why I think gambling can be a huge waste of money.

I came up with this phrase a couple of mega millions ago, “Not buying lottery tickets is like winning the lottery very slowly.” I put it in quotations because I feel that it will one day be a famous quote, used by millions to explain their anti-gambling ways. Americans love their lottery tickets. According to Derek Thompson from The Atlantic Magazine, in 2014, 70 billion dollars were spent on lottery tickets in this country.

What this tells me is that people want easy money and there is no easier money than winning the lottery. I get that. I would love to win millions of dollars, move to wherever and do whatever. But I understand that in order to achieve my goal of moving to wherever, I have to, as A$AP Ferg says, “put in work.”

There is no point in me telling you how low the odds are of a gambling habit paying off, also there is no point in me telling you to work hard and blah blah blah. You’ve heard it all before.

To be fair, the majority of people who gamble do not have a problem and gamble just occasionally for fun. Betting a few dollars on a game, playing Keno at The Gate or buying a scratch-off once in a while probably won’t lead to your financial demise. But when it becomes a habit, life gets real hard real fast.

Experts estimate that about five percent of gamblers struggle with a gambling addiction. These addictions, like all addictions, are not pretty. We’ve all had the unpleasant stress that goes along with not knowing how we are going to continue to pay for our Netflix subscription, but imagine the crippling anxiety and guilt that goes along with not being able to feed your family.

Got a bit dark there, I know. Gambling can be the only fun way to watch NASCAR, or it can be a death sentence to your financial stability. Just remember the easy rule of thumb: if you can’t afford to lose it, don’t gamble it.