The Eternal Allure of Gambling

I just spent three days in the land of milk and money - Las Vegas. There is something refreshingly honest about the place: it's all about money and it knows it. It doesn't pretend to be anything else.

No doubt some of the architects think that their work has some importance of its own: the re-creations of Venice, Camelot, Paris, Egypt, and New York. Battling pirate ships and erupting volcanoes aside, once you enter the themed palaces, they are all the same: crap tables, blackjack tables, roulette wheels, and thousands upon thousands of slot machines - all promising to give you a fun time while you lose your money in the pursuit of a possible fortune.

The lure of gambling has existed throughout recorded history but has never gripped the millions who now participate. We play state-sponsored lotteries, visit tribal and other legal casinos, create special accounts for Internet gaming, bet the horses, bet the dogs, bet on sports, fights, anything where we can catch the excitement of beating the odds.

Moralists worry that a large percentage of those who risk their money, are those who cannot afford to risk anything: the poor, the unemployed, the minimum wage fringe who, at the best of times, barely hang on to the basement rung of the economic ladder. They argue that gambling should be a pleasant pursuit for those who can afford to lose a reasonable amount, using the money they have earned for purchasing excitement, entertainment, and momentary escape.

Who's kidding who?

For the middle class gamblers who bet on the super bowl, the derby, the occasional lottery ticket, or visit the casinos once or twice a year, gambling is a diversion, a fun time, a little bit of excitement sandwiched between the realities of career advancement, building a nest egg, raising children, and doing their civic duties. The thrill of a potential win is the lure of proving their ability to compete, to come out on top, to better their opponents, the pros, the odds, the morning line. It is a personal challenge that can boost their self-confidence when they win but has few negative effects when they lose because their real self-image relates to the important aspects of their lives, separate from their gaming ventures.

It is those who cannot afford to lose who become addicted to the lure of chance. Stuck in minimum wage employment, without the education, the skills, or the entrepreneurial savvy to work their way up the social and economic pyramid, they see gambling as the promise of a permanent way out, a tsunami that can sweep them instantaneously to the top, an overnight millionaire. A lottery ticket, a slot machine, a pick 6 wager, plays no favorites. The poor, the homeless, the forgotten, the have-nots, all compete with the rich and famous on an equal footing. They become hooked on continued gaming because it is the only chance of reaching the lifestyle they want to achieve.

A successful businessman wins a quarter of a million dollars and it is nice: a bonus, a chance to splurge on new toys, the opportunity to retire outstanding debts, or expand their company with a welcome infusion of capital.

A working-class-stiff wins a quarter of a million dollars and it is truly life-changing. A janitor, a gardener, a fast food worker, a guard - with a windfall like that, they can turn their back on the roach-infested slum apartment and move to a better neighborhood or buy a small house and a new car. They can quit their hated job, help their families, participate in the good life they have only previously experienced as outsiders, looking in.

The problem is that it is non-sustainable. Winning what seems like an enormous amount of money seldom leads to rational investment: education, skill upgrades, saving for future college costs or business opportunities. Moving from nothing to something, in an instant, is not an event likely to produce rational planning. For those whose monetary and emotional needs have never been truly met, immediate gratification is the direction of choice. A lifetime of denial demands a certain degree of self-indulgence when the means for it become miraculously available.

Is it any wonder that a large percentage of lottery winners file bankruptcy within five years of their win? The moves, the changes, the life enhancements that substantial wins provide are ephemeral.

In the short run, they provide an exciting exit from a black tunnel. In the long run, such a win turns negative - because the dream has become a reality, even if only for a brief moment, returning to prior levels of existence becomes an even more painful form of imprisonment.

The need to recapture that dream, and perhaps maintain it this time if a mega-million prize can be snatched, keeps the gambling industry thriving and the promises of dream fulfillment entice us all, most especially the poor, into one more venture, one more ticket, one more chance.

Virginia Bola is a licensed clinical psychologist with deep interests in Social Psychology and politics. She has performed therapeutic services for more than 20 years and has studied the effects of cultural forces and employment on the individual. The author of an interactive workbook, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge, she can be reached at http://drvirginiabola.blogspot.com

Poker Can Be Played for Money from the Comfort of Your Living Room?Legally!

Poker is one of the world's all time favorite gambling card game. However, for most... Read More

Viva Las Vegas Buffets

Please correct me if I am wrong but aren't Las Vegas Buffets just the best... Read More

5s in Blackjack

Counting cards in blackjack is a way to increase your chances of winning. If you're... Read More

Why All the Excitement Over Poker?

Poker's new upsurge in popularity in is due to televised showings of championship poker tournaments,... Read More

Poker is Meant to be Fun

With the recent explosion of interest in poker, it is easy to forget that poker... Read More

The Secrets of Remembering True Odds

Pssst...! Wanna know a secret?How about the secret to remembering true odds?When you play craps,... Read More

Understanding Online Casino Bonuses

Are you puzzled by the workings of online Casino bonuses, with those pulsating dollar signs... Read More

Roulette 101 - Play Like a Pro with 4 Easy Tips

Roulette is a simple game that can yield high profits for a gambler. The house... Read More

Poker Hand Rankings

Poker hand rankings are one of the most important aspects of any poker game. When... Read More

Calculating Poker Odds - The Easy Way!

To be successful at poker you should, at any time during the play of a... Read More

Expected Value in Texas Holdem Poker

A successful Texas hold em player is one who maximizes his return or minimizes his... Read More

Think Big and Give Your Poker Profits a Boost

Is your lack of confidence hurting your poker profits in your online poker play?In the... Read More

Three Card Poker Basics

Three card Poker is a fast paced game which is easy to learn for the... Read More

Online Casino Bonuses Explained

Types Of Online Casino BonusesIf you've ever considered playing at an online casino, you should... Read More

Why Gamble on Sports?

Its really not that big of a stretch of the ole imagination to think that... Read More

Online Poker Tournaments -- Time to get aboard

Online poker tournaments are skyrocketing in popularity due to reasons ranging from low buyins into... Read More

Martingale Betting System - Are You SURE?

Very common and popular system among newbies who like roulette, but not a very useful... Read More

Top 5 Reasons - Should You be Gambling Online?

Why is online gambling the latest craze to hit the Internet? Let's face it the... Read More

My Teenager Has A Gambling Addiction

Over the past few months Stop Gambling Sites have received numerous emails related to teenage... Read More

How to Play Online Roulette

Maybe you haven't played online roulette before, or you are contemplating making the move from... Read More

2005 World Series of Poker

The 2005 World Series of Poker event is scheduled to begin June 2, 2005 in... Read More

Do You Believe These Four Online Slot Machine Myths?

The fact that people don't really understand how online slot machines work in terms of... Read More

Bingo 101 What You Absolutely Need to Know About

It is quite surprising and amusing at the same time that most of the people... Read More

Poker Tournament Freerolls Payout in Seven Figures

Poker tournaments freerolls are free poker tournaments that are hosted daily by the best online... Read More

Has the Party Poker Fish Pool Dried Up?

Party Poker has long been known as the place to go to catch unsuspecting poker... Read More

Senior Citizen?s Gambling Addiction On The Rise

Over the past few months there has been a significant increase in the number of... Read More

A Beginners Strategy Guide to Online Micro Limit Hold Em

It's hard to miss the fact that the last two winners of the World Series... Read More

Las Vegas Gambling Basics

The gambling scene, not only of North America but also of the entire world has... Read More

How To Choose A Reputable Online Casino

With literally thousands of online casinos on the internet, it can sometimes become very confusing... Read More

Roulette - The Basics

Roulette is actually one of the simplest games in the casino to play, despite the... Read More

World Poker Tour -- The Beginning of a Phenomenon

World Poker Tour high stakes poker tournaments started a revolution in the way the game... Read More

What You Need to Know About - Native Americans and Gambling

The term 'Gambling' is synonymous to 'Gaming'. Gaming or Gambling is deeply rooted in the... Read More

Texas Holdem Poker Legends

Stu Ungar is considered by most to the greatest No Limit Texas Holdem Poker player... Read More

Party Poker Sign up Bonus Code Tutorial

I have had a lot of emails from people who are looking for a partypoker... Read More

Online Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most loved casino games out there. Yes, you can take... Read More

2005 World Series of Poker -- Complete Report

Over 29,000 poker players came to Las Vegas from 40 different countries all over the... Read More

Asian Handicaps Explained

The most common way to bet on football in the UK... Read More

The Fine Print Behind Online Gambling Bonus Offers

If you have never opened an account with an online casino, poker room, or sports... Read More

College Football Betting - Totals

Betting totals in college football is very different than betting totals... Read More

Poker Tournament - Blind Stealing Strategy

Poker tournaments are often not epic confrontations between two premium hands in the later rounds... Read More

Compulsive Gambler?s Journey To Day One Stop Gambling

Its day one and this was the most exciting day in Justin's life. He made... Read More

Maximizing Your Blackjack Earnings Without Counting Cards

Blackjack has some of the best odds in the casino. The house's advantage is about... Read More

The Secret of Put Bets

Pssst...! Wanna know a secret?How about the secrets of making money with put bets?When you... Read More

Fantasy Football Offers Gamblers a Unique Kind of Fun

If you are a gambler, and you enjoy sports, chances are you've bet on ... Read More

Blackjack Basics

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games after slot machines. As the aim... Read More

Roulette basics

James bond plays it and so does a large part of America. A table a... Read More

Poker Tournaments for Beginners

As the game of Poker is scaling new heights, casinos and resorts where the game... Read More

2005 NFC South Football Preview

OVERVIEW: NFC SouthIn the NFC South look for Tampa Bay and Carolina to catch and... Read More

Blackjack - Increase Your Odds With Basic Strategy Plus

Blackjack Basic Strategy, played perfectly in a game with favorable rules, will reduce the edge... Read More

Gambling Addiction Affects More Then Just The Compulsive Gambler

At one point in time our society believed that gambling addiction only affected the gambler.... Read More