Gambling is an activity that has been around for centuries. People will bet on anything – from sporting events to how much snow is going to fall to who’s going to win an Oscar. There are several “legal” ways to gamble in states which have passed the proper legislation, including lotteries, scratch tickets, casinos and the horse track. There is, however, a lot of illegal gambling also.
Some of us are aware of the harm that problem gambling can do to a person and their loved ones. Problem gamblers can easily accrue insurmountable debt. They often feel compelled to start lying about finances and how much time they’re spending away from home or otherwise occupied, which can easily build mistrust among family, friends and employers. Increased Isolation is another big part of compulsive gambling. When a person gets their first “taste” by winning big or an exciting day, are they aware of these potential problems? Most likely not. Not all recreational gamblers become addicts. But addicts do start out as recreational gamblers and then once they cross that line all hell breaks loose.
Would it make sense to just ban gambling altogether? It could save our society from a lot of grief. Just as we ban drugs for the greater good, could we not do the same with gambling? People suffer from hopelessness, despair and isolation associated with a gambling addiction and in some cases, chooses to take their own lives because of it.
According to Michael Goldman, senior employee assistance program counselor in Cook County (Illinois), it’s estimated that 18-25 percent of compulsive gamblers will attempt suicide. With an estimated two million compulsive gamblers and four-to-six million problem gamblers in the U.S., the potential for larger numbers of suicide deaths brought on by gambling is significant.
Families who have lived through the devastation a compulsive gambler can bring into their lives would certainly agree with banning gambling. Then why don’t we do it? Probably because so many companies are making money through gambling, not to mention the tax benefits. A recent article discusses one coach’s take on banning gambling. He presents a unique argument in the article stating that there are times when a person has done nothing with their life yet on a single bet can become a millionaire. He goes on to say it just doesn’t seem fair when you think about a person who works night and day just to make ends meet. Well just like baseball, gambling is a national pastime. Who in their right mind would ever think to ban people from baseball? It just wouldn’t happen, unless of course, you are Pete Rose!