Who needs the anti-social grip of gambling?

| April 19, 2016

Gambling hopefuls are often prepared to venture big sums in the pursuit of a fortune the easy way – with sometimes tragic consequences. Leicester Warburton wonders how so many people can refuse to believe a mathematical fact.

O.k. I’m guilty. Who isn’t? But my gambling has been in its mildest form – the odd Art Union for a worthy cause, a few Melbourne Cup Sweeps, lottery tickets, and, yes, shares.

But the only thing of any consequence I’ve ever won was a car. Pretty good result, because it cost me nothing. My secretary entered my name in a contest without me knowing. And I won. My colleague and I shared a secretary and an office. So I sold the car back to the dealer and we split the money.

Otherwise I haven’t won a sausage. Nothing. Except savings. Yet people are prepared to venture sometimes thousands in a vain pursuit of a fortune the easy way.

I am particularly intrigued by people who disdain tickets in a big, regular lottery with, say, an $11 Million jackpot but are prepared to stand in line when the rush is on for the jackpot of $110 Million. I mean, isn’t $11 Million enough for most people to live very comfortably and pay off all debts? How greedy can you get?

As for what I believe is the social canker of casinos, those great vulgar palaces of splashy spending justified by governments by “attracting high rollers”, the morality of that kind of tourism appals me. I think it demeans our society.

Yes, there has been a benefit for the gambling entrepreneur who could afford to introduce the remarkable MONA gallery in Hobart and help tourism in Tasmania. Chances of emulating that are slim indeed.

As for that vacuous pastime of “the pokies”, I once lost an acquaintance when he announced smilingly that he was doing big business selling poker machines. “Isn’t that something like spreading venereal disease?” I asked.

Unsurprisingly we became immediately unacquainted. This vile form of petty gambling has led to many tragic developments, mostly with people who can least afford it.

They refuse to believe a mathematical fact. So-called ‘winning streaks’ have a nasty habit of turning ‘losing’ to bite you!

The all-time surest bet is savings.