Wednesday, February 5, 2014

News You Can't Use: How did Americans Manage to Lose $119 Billion Gambling Last Year?

Looking for some action? Maybe put a little wager on what card I'm going to pull out of a deck, what number I'm currently thinking of or how about a high-risk mortgage loan to someone likely to default? Yeah, all of that is pretty hot, so you can understand why we're losing more money on various dice games than some loser countries generate in a year.

The gambling industry around the world is huge, but the biggest market is the United States, where gamblers lost a staggering $119 billion in 2013.

Good news for everyone who bet the "over" on the 100 billion in gambling losses line.

That's a crazy amount of money; more money than Bill Gates has (with $72 billion) or Warren Buffett (with $58 billion), and only $11 billion less than the two men put together.

Imagine if the two men actually were put together. Four arms. Computer technology and voodoo investing in things like "tobacco" and "China." All that sweet, sweet long green. 512 bones. The result would be less than God but more than man.

And why do some players — problem gamblers, around 1.8 percent of the population — end up losing vast amounts of money, going into debt, and sometimes even losing their families and homes?

I'll give you even odds on "addictive personality disorder" and sweeten it by letting you imprison your bet if the psychological literature proves inconclusive.

1. Escapism, entertainment, and boredom: The places that people go to gamble — like casinos, hotels, card rooms, bookmakers, and even online gaming websites — offer an escape from everyday life.

Yeah, I'm watching imaginary cards flip over on a monitor while the numbers representing my net worth steadily decrease. This is glamorous and not at all depressing. So much better than "life."

In this sense, gambling can be seen as a form of entertainment, and those multi-billion dollar losses are the cost of being entertained, just as people pay to watch sports, listen to music, or play computer games.

How about "Red?"

Sorry it's "Black." I'll take that money now.

Are you not entertained???

2. Social activity: Gambling is a deep rooted part of American culture — 80 percent of Americans gamble at least once per year.

"Wanna hang out and play this Keno board I've got in my garage?"

3. Excitement and thrill: The sense of anticipation and risk creates an adrenaline rush and the payoff releases a surge of dopamine.

Adrenaline freaks! Clicking their chips together and staring at each other with dead eyes! What a rush!!!

When you receive a hug from a loved one, dopamine levels rise;

Let's hug a loved one instead of a slot machine.

4. Self-esteem: Casinos roll out the red carpet and dish out complimentary drinks, free stays in suites, shopping vouchers, and other gifts for big-time gamblers.

The casino is your friend, forget those crazy stories you sometimes hear.

I love that dopamine rush of helping older Pennsylvanians.

5. Self-delusion and the Dunning-Kruger Effect: Some gamblers believe they are lucky or special and will beat the odds and win, unlike the vast majority of gamblers.

Good old self-delusion, the glue that holds society together.

Inexperienced gamblers (and investors) may fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger Effect — the tendency for unskilled individuals to overrate their skill and ability, and underrate the difficulty of the task at hand.

I'm pretty sure I've gotten as good as a person can get at scratching off these tickets, so it's not that.

The global gambling industry forecasts that betting losses will continue to rise. And they're probably right. After all, it's been common knowledge for a very long time that most people lose at gambling in the long run. That's what keeps casinos in business. And yet, people keep keeping them in business.

We can only shake our head at this pathetic delusion. Now let's print some more currency and explain how a 700 billion increase in debt is actually a decrease because it went up even more the year before.

Komment Korner  

Americans are proving to have poor judgement. Look who they elected to be president.

if Americans spent $119 billion on dining out, would that make headlines? What's the difference?

I thought Americas gambling losses came to $17 Trillion....just sayin'.

If you think these loser American citizens are bad...wait until you get a load of the government.

Shill Section

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read a free excerpt here.

His first novel The Foolchild Invention is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here

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