Gambling is a topic I would not touch with a ten-foot pole, for very personal reasons.
But after yesterday, I thought I had to.
I was just with a female friend, enjoying spending time with her, when she nonchalantly mentioned that she was still at it – that she spends many a night in a gambling joint. She knows her savings is dwindling because of it, her family life is affected, that she has to get out before all is lost. She does not, and will not. My brow is furrowed and my worry is palpable but she remained unfazed.
I know this. I have seen this.
Gambling, for the past century, have metamorphosed and have taken several different forms, each effective and successfully luring man from himself. For one, owners of gambling joints have become more sophisticated and daring. Despite strict regulations, gambling dens have managed to populate and edge itself into the fringes of society without anyone realizing it is there. Boxed in 80 x 50 rented offices, black hallways with semi-private booths, they are there tucked in your friendly neighborhood. No screaming neon lights here. Only a constant stream of people, alternately covering their faces and skittish with excitement and guilt, betray their presence.
This is indeed the new age. Gone are the statuesque, costly buildings, the singing (dancing) fountains, the high domed ceilings and the grand hallways and the dripping chandeliers. The maroon detailed carpets are out too, as well as the sleek and confident dealers with the magic fingers who could look you in the eye, charm you and milk you dry.
But the cigarette butts remained, and the smoke which permeates the soul. The smell of unwashed hair and bodies, and the heady mixture of fear and excitement and depression and heady satisfaction – it’s there. Sharks, hungry for blood stalk the night and the halls, circling, luring everyone to their financial ruin, playing their role to the hilt.
Slot machines, big, bulky, colorful, archaic, have been replaced with – yes, Bill Gates – computers. But the sound of coins piling up one on top of another in a mound, the unmistakable tinkling sound that people have long associated with money and lots of money, release their enchantment. Ting-ting-ting-ting-ting. Sometimes, raucous screams can be heard over the din of the machines, alternating between exclamations of excitement and the agonized voice of ruin. But the general mood is one of desperation, of racing against time and money and beating the house.
I know this. I have seen this. I know the impact and the terrible unhappiness this vice has brought to families, including mine. Why do people not realize that quitting is the only way that one can win at this game?
If you have not started, do not.
If you have – it does not matter if you are ahead or not ahead, if you think you are hooked or not hooked. If you gamble, you have got to save yourself. Quit. You can call 1800-GAMBLER or get information at some intervention sites. Or you can just simply, without so much as a fuss or worry, turn your back on it.
Because this is not just about your money. This is about your family, your future, your life.
Get it back.