I’ve always been against organised gambling, companies whose only business is to make money off people with poor risk perception.
Gamblers are always the last to know, or they just don’t care, that the industry is designed so that the company wins and the gambler loses. Poker machines for example, have adjustable odds and payout percentage, so that the machine will only payout a certain percentage of what is put in. In most cases this is between 75% and 80%, so put in $1000 over a day, and you’ll end up with $750 by the end. Poker machines are configured so that you will lose.
Let’s move on to Lotto and lotteries. I’ve written about the odds of winning Lotto before, but let’s just reiterate the point. The NSW Lotto site states that odds of winning are about 8 million to one. The odds of being struck by lightning in a given year, are about seven hundred thousand to one, for example. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who’s been struck by lightning, let alone the 4-5 times it would take to equal winning Lotto.
How about casino games that have a tactical component then, like card games? Well there’s a few elements at work here. Firstly, casino games are set up so that the player has a short term advantage, but a long term disadvantage. So the longer you play, the more chance that you will lose. Remember, casinos are in it to make money by you losing money. Secondly, they do this by taking a cut of each bet or win, reducing the payout below what would be dictated by the actual odds. Bookmakers work the same way, so say a horse wins at 10:1, then the payout won’t reflect 10:1, because the bookmaker needs to take a cut. You’ll get something more like 9:1 or 8:1 instead.
So not only are the odds against you, but they’re against you AND not paying you the correct dues.
Most governments, including our NSW state government, say that gambling is a problem, yet they’re usually the biggest takers of gambling profits. They say they want to help problem gamblers on the one hand, yet they’re continually inventing new ways to optimise their gambling take on the other.
Each year the Melbourne Cup stops Australia. A horse race stops an entire nation. And it’s not a particularly good race to bet on either, most professional gamblers don’t bet much on the Cup, because it’s too unpredictable. Yet generations of Australians are brought up on horse racing as a national sport.
For the past week, since the Melbourne Cup, the NSW TAB have been set up in the middle of Martin Place in Sydney. For the Melbourne Cup you’d probably say yeah OK, while it’s gambling, it’s now a national tradition. Yet since Melbourne Cup day, they’ve remained there to serve all the problem gamblers for the rest of the Spring Racing Carnival.
Even schools stop for the Melbourne Cup now. We’re teaching our children that gambling on the horses is a fun thing. It’s ridiculous.
And yet gambling isn’t our biggest social problem. Tobacco and alcohol are bigger. So why not have two extra special days a year for each of those? We can have Melbourne Cup day for the gamblers, National Smoko Day to publicise smoking, and of course National Piss Up Day, to promote irresponsible drinking. All three days could be pushed in schools, although most schools already have a National Piss Up Day, otherwise known as muck up day.
Organised gambling. It’s completely rigged so that you lose. When will people get it? All it would take is some government funded TV adverts, medicare funded councelling for problem gamers, and restrictions on how much you can bet in a day, and the problem would virtually disappear.