Have you read, ‘Poker Face – How Washington Opened the Floodgates to Online Gambling. Ok, Who’s in?’
As soon as I saw the front page I knew had I read it I would lose a valuable 10-minutes of my life. There is a picture of a child – looking no older than 7-8 years of age – who is holding an iPad exposing a Royal Flush.
He looks like he has just been ordered to eat all of his vegetables.
It’s a royal flush?
The kid should have a smile like the Joker.
I eventually got around to reading it, and it is as one-sided as everyone has told me. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the piece stands very proud at the top of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) website: home of Sheldon Adelson and the Hypocrites (what a great name for a band).
But aren’t all of these articles biased?
Aren’t they always more Leaning Tower of Pisa than Eiffel Tower?
I’m a gambling addict.
The germination of my addiction started when my father asked me to choose a horse in the Grand National. I was one of four children and so I never had much pocket money.
A win on the horses would put that right.
If I did win any money I would spend it on chocolates or the slot machines. I find it quite amusing to read a piece on the evil addictive properties of slot machines, and how they can turn our children into maniacs, and those same vigilantes allow their children to eat processed garbage at a dinner table that houses a fine bottle of vintage ruin my life.
I used to steal money from my father’s trousers so I could play those slot machines. I didn’t play because I wanted to win more money, because every penny went back into the machine.
It was that unexplainable buzz.
So it was the brick and mortar slot machine that pushed me along the gambling road – those same machines that have turned Sheldon Adelson into one of the richest men in the world. That’s right. The money I stole from my father’s trousers is now a speck of dirt in the Venetian Hotel & Casino.
Now let’s imagine that there was no brick and mortar slot machine. Instead, I could only gamble online. As an 8-9 year old child, how exactly was I going to do that?
One of my annoyances, as an adult, is the rigmarole I have to go through to prove my identity when I first join an online gambling site. Three forms of identification, proof of address, copies of passports.
It’s enough to put anybody off even opening an account.
Yet according to the information that Leah McGrath Goodman gleaned from her ‘reliable’ sources, it’s as easy as just nicking your parent’s credit card.
It might not be a bad idea for people like Sheldon Adelson, Jason Chaffetz, or Leah McGrath Goodman to try and open an online account the next time they are in one of the three states grown up enough to allow their citizens the freedom of choice when it comes to gambling.
Where are all of these children who are stealing credit cards, opening online bank accounts and spending up to $20,000 playing poker in just one month?
I am going out on a limb here when I say, if a child is willing to go through all of that trouble to gamble online, then don’t you think they will do likewise in unregulated states, and that allowing them to try in a regulated market is a much better option?
Just stick to stealing from your father’s trousers, it’s so much easier.
My addiction really kicked in after a visit to Las Vegas. One of the venues where I spent my time playing Craps, Baccarat and Roulette was The Venetian.
I came back from Vegas a slight winner. I thought I could make a living at it. I dived straight into it and it all went downhill from there.
Sheldon Adelson helped make me a gambling addict.
The anti-gambling argument that online gambling is a more dangerous place than brick and mortar is an argument that I support. The form of gambling that eventually killed my bank account (and my marriage) was the online ‘in-play’ sports betting market.
Had ‘in-play’ only been introduced in the brick and mortar establishments, I would never have been able to blow as much money as I did. Online gambling made it so quick and easy that I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.
I ran up £30,000 worth of debt through the ‘in play’ markets, so I understand the risks. I fell for every single one of them. At the height of my problem I would have found a way to gamble no matter what. What eventually helped me recover was the ability to ban myself from the online sites. Once again, this was done with the click of a button.
Gambling is no different to pornography, alcohol, cigarettes and processed killer foods. They are all habits that can spin our pain/pleasure axis around like a bottle in that game where nobody ever wanted to kiss me.
Banning it is not the answer.
Regulating it is.
Parents also need to stand up and be counted. There needs to be a greater awareness of what’s going on in our children’s lives.
Would we ever consider banning EA Sports FIFA14?
A few years ago a copy of that game would cost me £30…these days you are talking hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.
The FIFA Ultimate Team model turned my 13-year old boy into an addict. There is no better way to explain it. The need to buy packets of players, like we used to buy Panini stickers, was insatiable for him.
But he couldn’t rob me?
He couldn’t steal my credit cards.
Even if he did I would receive an e-mail telling me that the transaction had taken place, in the same way that I receive e-mail from PokerStars each time I deposit or withdraw.
I have to trust my son that he won’t allow this FIFA14 addiction to go too far. This is mixed with my education and discussion on the matter as well as a severe reduction on the amount of money I will allow him to spend on it (which he must earn).
Will this turn him into a gambling addict?
I will turn him into a gambling addict.
It’s a strong suit that he is likely to pick up after copying my traits, beliefs and values as he grows up.
In the great book Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol, by Ann Dowsett Johnston, she says that the alcohol industry doesn’t have to advertise to children because the adults do such a great job for them.
It’s the same for gambling.
My son is more likely to gamble because I gamble. And I want him to gamble, because it is a fun pastime that also contains a whole host of lessons in life.
Gambling is an education.
There is a reason that PokerStars has over 85 million users. People love to bloody gamble, and to be told you can’t just seems so archaic.
And why do we have so many concerned Americans all scratching their Abraham Lincoln style beards wondering how much damage online gambling is going to cause to children?
There are other countries in the world you know. Other places that exist that have a regulated gambling industry, and I am pretty sure they contain children. Just ask them what the figures are like for young 7-8 year old cyber hackers who are now destitute and in ruins.
I can tell you that nearly 4,000 children were hospitalized due to alcohol poisoning in the UK last year, including 52 aged under 11. But I can’t tell you how many children blew their parents fortunes gambling online.
Now does that mean we are going to ban alcohol in the UK?
A freedom that exists that kills millions of people worldwide?
Of course not.
Do you remember what happened when you tried to ban it in America?