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Gambling Safety 101: Part One

11 January 2011 by admin

This is the first part in what will be an educational series on gambling safety.

Some people oppose gambling. Even if this is your first time reading our blog, I’m sure you’ve heard opposition before. We in the industry love to demonize or ridicule those who are against gambling, just as they do to us, but the truth is both sides have a point.

The people who think gambling should be illegal don’t feel that way because they’re evil and want to take away your liberties just for fun. For the most part, I believe they feel that way because they’re concerned about the dangers of gambling. They think that because gambling can be dangerous, they need to protect people from it.

Safety-First---14--x-10--5197980Where they are wrong, of course, is their idea that they, the government, the police or whoever else need to protect people from poor decisions. People need to make their own decisions, learn from mistakes, and grow. People need to protect themselves, rather than waiting for someone else to do it.

Where they are right is their idea that gambling has the potential to be dangerous. Just like drinking alcohol, using scissors, crossing the road and driving a car can be dangerous if done irresponsibly, the same can be said for gambling. The key is to learn the correct responsible behavior. We learn to drink in moderation and never while driving or shortly before driving. We learn not to run with scissors or slice in the direction of our bodies. We learn to look both ways before crossing the road. As for driving, we are required to take entire courses on doing that safely before we are allowed to obtain a license.

Once responsible behavior is learned, though, people don’t have a problem with those activities. Few people would support a ban on alcohol, and I don’t think anyone is against cutting things, pedestrian traffic or driving. Let’s take the same approach to gambling: assume that it can be dangerous if done improperly and learn the correct way to do things.

The first rule you should learn is the most important one of all: Never wager money that you cannot afford to lose. I cannot stress that enough. Not a single penny should be wagered if losing that money could cause hardship for you. Anytime you place a wager, place it with the assumption that you will lose that money, because you might. Treat it as spending money, the same as if you are purchasing something at a store. If you can’t afford the purchase price, don’t buy it.

Consider the money gone and the property of the casino as soon as you place your wager. If you place the wager and end up winning the hand of blackjack or the roll of dice, that’s great. You get your money back plus more. If you lose it, though, you have lost nothing extra since placing your bet. The money was already gone.

If you follow that rule, you will avoid making the mistake of losing too much money trying to hit a hot streak. You will also avoid going into debt by betting money that you don’t have. If you don’t actually have the money at that moment, obviously you can’t afford to lose it.

“That sounds simple,” you might be saying, “but how do you make sure you don’t spend too much?” It’s a good question and a very real concern. In the heat of the moment, you can get wrapped up in things and easily spend more money than you intended. That’s not a situation unique to casinos, though. It happens to me at Disney World and at the local record store. The key is to use proper money management, which will be covered in the next installment of Gambling Safety 101.

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