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  • Jordan Huett

Episode 17 - Staking Wins, Counting Losses: An Introspective into Gambling

# The Wandering Freelancer's Dive into the World of Gambling

## The Historical Roots of Gambling

The art of gambling paints a colourful picture on the canvas of human history. Its roots burrow back to the cradle our earliest civilizations - with evidence pointing towards ancient China, Egypt, and Greece. Indeed, games of chance and betting on diverse outcomes have long been embedded in human culture.

The foundations of gambling in China date back to the first millennium BCE with the near ubiquity of gambling houses and popular activities including betting on animal fights. Fast forward to the 10th century, lotto games and dominoes began captivating Chinese society. It wasn't much later, in the 9th century CE, that playing cards were first unveiled.

Interestingly, the fascinating timeline of gambling in Japan has tracks leading back to the 14th century. Today's widely-loved casino staple, Poker, finds its origins in the Persian game As-Nas, which emerged in the 17th century.

The Redodo, the first recognized casino, started to thrill gamblers in Venice, Italy, in 1638.

## Contemporary Gambling Landscape

From Great Britain to the United States, gambling has for centuries remained a significant recreational activity. In the late 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I chartered a lottery that was drawn in 1569. Horse racing, a gambling favorite that has remained principally unchanged for over three centuries, was also a highlight.

Today, gambling stretches its fingers wide -- reaching into every corner of entertainment, from casinos to non-casinos. Table games such as blackjack, roulette, and craps draw people into casinos, while slot machines with the appeal of large pay-outs keep them rooted. The sphere of non-casino games largely comprises horse track betting and lotteries.

This broad array of gambling cleaves individuals into two groups - those who see themselves as recreational gamblers and those who struggle with gambling addiction. The latter group often remain unaware of their dependency, and it is this slip from enjoyment to addiction that opens up a labyrinth of issues.

When discussing the effects of gambling, it is critical to analyze the spending that accompanies it. Understanding expenditure can unearth crucial signs of addiction too.

## Personalizing the Gambling Experience

In 2021, a major spike in gambling resulted in an annual loss of $2,931. Despite solid finances during the pandemic, the urge to win big and get rich at the casino was compelling. The reality of gambling, however, hit hard in 2022 when losses for the year struck like a sledgehammer prompting serious contemplation about the habit.

A shift in gambling behavior over the years showed moving from penny slots to high-stakes games, indicating an increasing risk associated with gambling. A steady cycle of winning a jackpot, then wanting to win another one showed an escalating cycle of addiction.

Even winning a hand-pay of $3,250 at the beginning of 2022 didn't help the situation. By the end of the year, the loss was a staggering $11,872 and adjusted it was $8,022. The realization of such significant financial losses juxtaposing a desire to use that money to help others sets a sharp reminder of the harsh reality of gambling.

## Pros and Cons of Gambling

Like any pastime or habit, gambling carries with it both benefits and consequences. Some may argue that gambling can provide entertainment, social interaction, potential winnings, a thrilling adrenaline rush, and in some cases, an element of skill.

However, these benefits can be consumed by the disadvantages that come with gambling. The most significant downside is the unwelcome possibility of substantial financial losses. Addiction too, brings with it financial, emotional, and mental health issues - with similar detrimental effects being felt in the realm of emotional distress, relational strain, legal issues, time consumption, false beliefs, and health issues. The loss of control associated with reckless decisions in gambling presents a significant risk.

## The Light at the End of Tunnel

In light of this, it is key to observe your budget, set aside a limit for gambling, and always be cognizant of where your income is heading. You may be tempted to gamble more when presented with complimentary offers or incentives from the casino. However, remember that they are a business and their model is quite often designed to keep you playing longer and spending more money.

If you are struggling with gambling and are seeking support, find solace in the fact there are plentiful resources available to help you. An accountability system or an accountability partner can provide beneficial assistance to overcome the hurdles you are facing. Various platforms are available to connect you with those facing similar challenges, offering a way to discuss and support each other. Remember, addiction is a battle often lost when fought alone, but it can be overcome when fought together.

Let's wander together into a future of healthier pastimes, finding joy and satisfaction in life beyond the lure of the slot machines. Until then, continue to wander my friends.

If you struggle with gambling, here are some resources to help you:

- Call 1-800-662-4357, an anonymous hotline for help

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