The chips are down and the fish is dicey

JOHN, who grew up in Scotland, dreamed of winning the lottery. "I bought a lottery ticket every week," he says. "It cost me just a small amount of money, but that ticket gave me hope of gaining everything I ever wanted."
Kazushige, who lives in Japan, loved horse racing. "Gambling at the racetrack with my friends was a great deal of fun, and I sometimes won large sums of money," he recalls.
"Bingo was my favorite game," says Linda, who lives in Australia. "This habit cost me about $30 a week, but I loved the thrill of winning."
John, Kazushige, and Linda viewed gambling as a relatively harmless form of entertainment. Hundreds of millions of people around the globe share that viewpoint. A 1999 Gallup poll showed that two thirds of Americans approved of gambling. In 1998, American gamblers spent about $50 billion on legalized gambling-more than they spent on movie tickets, recorded music, spectator sports, theme parks, and video games combined.
According to a recent study, during a one-year period, more than 80 percent of Australia's population gambled at least once, and 40 percent gambled each week. Adults in that country, on average, spend more than $400 (U.S.) annually on gambling, about twice the amount spent by Europeans or Americans, making Australians among the most avid gamblers in the world.
Many Japanese are addicted to pachinko, a pinballlike game, and spend billions a year betting on the game. In Brazil, at least $4 billion is spent each year on gambling, much of it on lottery tickets. But Brazilians are not the only ones who love lotteries. The magazine Public Gaming International recently estimated that there are "306 lotteries in 102 countries." Gambling is truly a global fascination a fascination, some say, that brings great benefits. The House of cards comes tumbling down

Sharon Sharp, a representative of the Public Gaming Research Institute, says that in the United States from 1964 to 1999, lottery proceeds "account[ed] for about $125 billion of state budget dollars, with the greatest part of this revenue coming in since 1993." Much of this money was earmarked for public education programs, state parks, and the development of public sports facilities. The gambling industry is also a major employer, and in Australia alone, it employs about 100,000 people in over 7,000 businesses.
Thus, advocates of gambling argue that in addition to providing entertainment, legalized gambling creates jobs, provides tax revenue, and improves depressed local economies. Many people would therefore ask, 'What is wrong with gambling?' The answer to this question, which is discussed in the following articles, may well change your view of gambling.



Do I Have a Gambling Problem?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the following criteria on page 5 can guide diagnosis of pathological gambling (sometimes called compulsive gambling). Most authorities agree that if you manifest several of the following behaviors, you are a problem gambler, and if you experience any one of these behaviors, you are at risk of becoming a problem gambler.

  • Preoocupation You are preoccupied with gambling-wanting to relive past gambling experiences, planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble.
  • Tolerance You need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement.
  • Withdrawal You are restless or irritable when attempting to cut down on or stop gambling.
  • Escape You gamble as a way of escaping from problems or relieving feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, or depression.
  • Chasing After losing money gambling, you often return another day in order to get even. This behavior is known as chasing one's losses.
  • Lying You lie to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of your involvement with gambling.
  • Loss of control You have made repeated unsuccessful efforts to stop, control, or cut back on gambling.
  • Illegal acts You have committed illegal acts, such as fraud, theft, or embezzlement, in order to finance your gambling.
  • Risked significant relationship You have jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, an education or career opportunity, or a job because of gambling.
  • Bailout You have relied on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.

Source: National Opinion Research center at the University of Chicago, Gemini Research, and The Lewin Group.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH GAMBLING? If the dice are hot don't go foldin' -RUSH

"Around 290,000 Australians are problem gamblers and account for over $3 billion in losses annually. This is disastrous not only for these problem gamblers, but also for the estimated 1.5 million people they directly affect as a result of bankruptcy, divorce, suicide and lost time at work."
-J. Howard, prime minister of Australia, 1999.

JOHN,mentioned in the preceding article, became a problem gambler. He moved to Australia, where he got married to Linda, also a gambler. John's addiction grew worse. He says: "I progressed from buying lottery tickets to betting on racehorses and gambling at casinos. I ended up gambling nearly every day. I sometimes gambled away my whole paycheck and had nothing left with which to pay the mortgage or feed the family. Even when I won a lot of money, I continued to gamble. It was the thrill of winning that hooked me."
Individuals like John are not uncommon. Whole societies seem to have caught gambling fever. The magazine USA Today said that between 1976 and 1997, there was a staggering 3,200-percent increase in the amount wagered on legalized gambling in the United States.
"Gambling used to be considered a moral and social evil. Today it's a socially acceptable pastime," states the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.  [Let's not forget it was the Mormons who built Las Vegas - gambling capital of the World - LB] Identifying one reason for this change in public attitude, the paper says: "The image makeover is the direct result of what may be the most expensive and most sustained government-funded advertising campaign in Canadian history." What impact have efforts to promote gambling had on some societies?

An Epidemic of Problem Gambling

According to an estimate made by the Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions, in 1996 there were "7.5 million American adult problem and pathological gamblers" and an additional "7.9 million American adolescent problem and pathological gamblers." These figures were included in a report compiled by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC), which was presented to the U.S. Congress. The report stated that the number of people with gambling problems in America might actually be significantly higher than recorded.

Among young people, gambling is increasing at an alarming rate


Because of job loss, diminished physical health, the payment of unemployment benefits, and the cost of treatment programs, problem gambling is estimated to cost U.S. society billions of dollars every year. This figure, though, does little to portray the human cost of problem gambling-the cost to families, friends, and workmates, resulting from theft, embezzlement, suicide, domestic violence, and child abuse. An Australian study found that up to ten people can be directly affected by every problem gambler. A report from the National Research Council in the United States says that up to "50 percent of spouses and 10 percent of children experienced physical abuse from the pathological gambler."

The Real Message in Lottery Ads
"Promoting lotteries. .. may be viewed as values education, teaching that gambling is a benign or even virtuous activity," say researchers at Duke University, in the United States, in a report submitted to the National Gambling impact Study Cornmission What effect does lottery advertising really have on the community? The report states: "It is probably not an exaggeration to say that the message of lottery advertising is a subversive one- that success lies in picking the right number. This perverse 'education' initiative being promulgated by the lottery agencies may have the ironic effect of reducing government revenues over the long run, by reducing economic growth. Specifically, if the lottery promotion erodes the propensities to work, save, and self-invest in education and training, the consequence will eventually attenuate growth in productivity. In any case, betting on a miracle is not the formula for success we usually teach to our children."

A Contagious Addiction


Like some diseases, problem gambling can seem to spread from parent to child. "Children of compulsive gamblers are more likely to engage in delinquent behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and using drugs, and have an increased risk of developing problem or pathological gambling themselves," states the NGISC report. The report also warns that "adolescent gamblers are more likely than adults to develop problem and pathological gambling."

Every Home a Casino
At a fraction of the cost of building new gambling establishments, gambling organizations now build Web sites that can turn any home with an Internet-connected computer into a virtual casino. In the mid-1990's, there were approximately 25 gambling sites on the Internet. In 2001 there were more than 1,200 sites, and revenues from on-line gambling have been doubling each year. In 1997, gambling sites made $300 million on-line. In 1998 they made a further $650 million. In 2000, Internet gambling sites earned $2.2 billion, and by 2003 that figure is "expected to grow to $6.4 billion," says a Reuters news report.

Dr. Howard J. Shaffer, director of the Harvard Medical School's Division on Addiction Studies, says: "There is an emerging body of evidence suggesting that illicit gambling among young people is increasing at a rate at least proportional to the opportunity to gamble legally." As for the potential for pathological gamblers to abuse the technology of the Internet, he says: "As smoking crack cocaine changed the cocaine experience, I think electronics is going to change the way gambling is experienced."

The gambling trade is often portrayed as supplying harmless fun. But for adolescents, gambling can be as addictive as any illicit drug and can lead to criminal behavior. A survey in the United Kingdom found that among adolescents who gambled, "46 percent stole from their family" to support their habit.
Despite the foregoing facts, one influential gambling association justifies the promotion of gambling by saying: "The vast majority of Americans who enjoy gaming experience no problem whatsoever." Even if you feel that gambling does not adversely affect your financial or physical health, what impact does gambling have on your spiritual health? Are there good reasons why you should avoid gambling? The following article will consider these questions.


AVOID THE SNARE OF GAMBLING

"Gambling did not affect my physical health, and I always controlled how much money I spent on gambling. But I admit that whenever I played a lottery game, I always chose what I considered to be my lucky numbers."-Linda

MANY gamblers develop a belief in lucky numbers or lucky charms. They might not think that they take their superstitious beliefs very seriously, but they may persist with them nonetheless.
Some gamblers even offer prayers to God, asking that he help them win their chosen game. Yet, the Bible contains God's condemnation of those who claim to worship him but who are "setting in order a table for the god of Good Luck." (Isaiah 65:11) Yes, God detests practices that promote a superstitious belief [Belief in God IS a superstitious belief!-LB] in luck.

Gambling and the Supernatural
In a report to to National Gambling pact Study Commission, researchers at Duke University alluded to a link between the way gambling is advertised and belief in the supernatural. The report states: "Many [lottery] ads are unabashedly materialistic . . . Yet this is not the materialism of hard work and perseverance but rather of genies and magic lamps, rooted in hopes, dreams and superstition. [What do they expect when so many people believe in a none existent deity? -LB] And every lottery manager knows that many of his or her best customers base their bets on personal superstitions, astrological tables, self-styled seers, and the venerable 'dream books' that list numbers corresponding to names, dates, and dreams. Rather than emphasizing that all numbers have the same probability of being selected and that playing popular numbers will reduce a person's expected payoff in parimutuel games, lottery agencies have chosen to encourage players to choose (and stick with) personally significant numbers."

Gambling, by its very nature, encourages a blind trust in the so-called Lady Luck.[Religion encourages blind trust in complete nonsense - LB]
Gambling also unashamedly promotes a love of money. In today's increasingly secular society, money itself has become a surrogate god, and gambling a popular way of worshiping it. The new cathedrals are the grandiose casinos, and the new creed is that greed is good. Researchers have found that the vast majority of people who visit casinos say they do so, not for the entertainment or for the atmosphere, but to win "a really large amount of money." However, the Bible warns: "The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains." -l Timothy 6:10.
At 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, the Bible plainly states: "Do not be misled.Neither... idolaters ... nor greedy persons ... will inherit God's kingdom." Greed is not just a debilitating social sickness; it is a lethal spiritual sickness -but a sickness for which there is a cure.

They Found the Strength to Change

"I tried to stop gambling many times," recalls Kazushige, mentioned in the opening article. "I realized that my gambling with my friends at the racetrack was destroying my family. I always lost any money that I won. I even gambled away the money my wife had saved for our second son's birth, and I eventually started gambling with my company's funds. As a result, I totally lost my self-respect. My wife often wept and begged me to stop gambling, but I just couldn't quit." Kazushige then started to study the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses. He says: "The more I read the Bible, the more confident I became that there is a God and that I would benefit from listening to him. I determined that with the power God supplies, I would quit gambling. To my amazement, not only have I quit gambling but I have also developed a hatred of it. Now when I think of the distress that my gambling caused my family, my heart aches. How thankful I am to Jehovah God that he helped me break my gambling addiction and that he is helping me lead a meaningful life!" -Hebrews 4:12.
John, also mentioned in the opening article, likewise started studying the Bible. He recalls: "My study of the Bible helped me reevaluate my circumstances. For the first time, my eyes were really opened to the damage my gambling was causing to both my family and me. I came to appreciate that gambling promotes a selfish, greedy attitude in people,qualities that Jehovah hates. As I continued my study, my love for Jehovah gave me the strength to break free from gambling. I started gambling because I dreamed of finding a better life. Now that I have given up gambling and am happily serving Jehovah, that dream has come true."
John's wife, Linda, also decided to abstain from gambling. "It was not easy," she says. "But after my husband and I started studying the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses, I learned to focus on the more important things in life. I learned not only to love the things God loves but also to hate the things he hates, including Greed is not just a debilitating social sickness; it is a lethal spiritual sickness all forms of greed. In addition to enjoying a more purposeful life, I have more money in my purse."-Psalm 97:10.
By developing a relationship with Jehovah God, you too can find the strength and wisdom necessary to avoid the snare of gambling. Doing so will improve your financial, emotional, and spiritual health. You will then have the pleasure of experiencing for yourself the truthfulness of the words recorded at Proverbs 10:22: "The blessing of Jehovah-that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it."

My Comment : You can stop gambling - because it's stupid - you don't need God to help you - or to fixate on another mindless addiction to get you away from the one you have. Free your mind and the rest will follow.Note that John and Kazushige learned to hate things.I'm sure the world is better for them having hatred.


Roll the Bones

WE ALL HAVE AN EQUAL NUMBER OF CHANCE OPPORTUNITIES IT'S JUST THAT SOME PEOPLE NOTICE THEM MORE EASILY THAN OTHERS
Professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, Richard Wiseman, believes he's discovered four principles of luck and knows how to help people improve their good fortune.
The idea that we can improve the chance of good things happening to us may seem difficult to swallow. After all, the word 'luck' describes events beyond our control - things that happen purely by chance. For instance, surely luck was a factor when British supermodel Kate Moss was 'discovered' at an airport when a talent scout happened to walk by and noticed her striking looks. In a similar vein, Sir Alexander Fleming only discovered penicillin when he left some laboratory bacteria uncovered and some mould fell into it which contained a substance that killed the bacteria.
Surely we can't alter the random nature of events though - can we? No, probably not. Dr Wiseman's research has involved him being with those who define themselves as either lucky or unlucky, and examining the reasons why. It's really not such a strange idea - if you stop and think about it, you probably have an undeclared belief about just how lucky you are.
Maybe you are envious of a friend for whom everything seems to go right? Perhaps they have been lucky in their career and have progressed much faster than you - always managing to be in the right place at the right time. Maybe they met their ideal partner by accident and to cap it all, they always seem to be telling you about the most amazing things that have happened to them.
Or perhaps you know somebody for whom nothing good ever seems to happen? They don't just have accidents - they are a walking disaster area.Their relationships are mess and their career is in the doldrums. If anyone needs a bit of luck it is them, but each week just seems to bring more bad news.
Tracy Hart lives in Hertfordshire and she was one of the unlucky ones. For example, on the last day of a recent holiday she was playing with her daughter and fell down a pothole hitting her head against a wall.Thinking she hadn't done too much damage she drove 200 miles home, but later that evening she collapsed hitting her head again and suffering concussion.
A doctor gave her medication and told her to eat three times a day while taking it. The following day she cracked her tooth and couldn't eat for the pain - nor could she have the tooth fixed because of the medication she had been taking!
"This is the way my whole life used to go, even affecting people around me," says Tracy."One year around Christmas, my best friend suddenly died from Hodgkin's disease and my cat was run over by a lorry. On New Year's Eve, I was thinking that nothing else could go wrong in the year because there was only one day left, but I received a phone call to say that my cousin had died unexpectedly from a blood clot."
Now however, Tracy's luck has changed. She was a participant in Dr Wiseman's Luck School through which she learned the principles of luck and began to apply them: noticing opportunities and doing something about them; developing an ability to listen to your intuition and make successful decisions; seeing good luck in bad and not dwelling on setbacks; setting goals and expecting them to happen.
"I have convinced myself that I can succeed," says Tracy. "Looking on the bright side has made me feel better about things. A woman almost hit me recently when I was out in my car - instead of thinking of it as a potential disaster,! moved on and thought 'That was lucky!' I now take control of my problems instead of blaming everything on bad luck. For example, my house was falling apart so I rang my housing officer but she didn't return my calls. I thought about the huge benefits I'd reap if I overcame the problem, so I called the head office and spoke to the director's PA, who complained to the housing officer for me and that galvanised her into action. I've waited three and a half years for this, but now they are finally renovating the building and doing up the garden - all because I now think of myself as lucky. In fact it's even improved the number of times I win at Bingo!".
[Candis Apr 2003] The Luck Factor, by Dr Richard Wiseman, is available priced £9.99.

Improve your luck

Maximise chance opportunities
We all have an equal number of chance opportunities it's just that some people happen to notice them more easily than others.

Build a network of luck
Lucky people are open to new experiences. More seems to happen to these people because they constantly bump into the right people and have positive encounters. Make smiling a habit and adopt an open posture. Talk to people in queues and don't be afraid if rejection .Make contact with old friends.

Deliberately create new experiences in life
Get out of your rut. Vary your route to work or and from school picking up the kids. Try new and more interesting types of food and instead I watching television listen to the radio (or vice versa). Make a numbered list of six new experiences you've always wanted to try and throw a dice to decide which one to do first.

Listen to your lucky hunches
Instead of trying to work everything out logically, learn to trust your intuition more. That's why lucky people seem so much happier in life they are doing what their heart tells them to do rather than listening to their heads.

Boost your intuition
Try meditating three times a week for 20 minutes. Find a quiet,calm place and make yourself comfortable. Repeat a word or phrase over and over in your mind. Try and focus solely on that word or phrase, and not any other thoughts that you may have about everything else you have got to do. After all, practice makes perfect.

Find out what you feel
Imagine that you are talking about a difficult decision to an old man in the Himalayas who does want to hear the logical argument, just ,what you feel about your options. Close your eyes and listen to yourself telling him out loud exactly what feels right and wrong.

Expect good fortune
Have goals but hold them lightly - you can't force these goals into being, but you can match them against the many new opportunities you encounter and take strides forwards.

Set Goals
Write three headings on a piece of paper Short term, Medium term Long term. Make these goals specific, not I want to be happy', but I want a bigger house - know what you want Make them relatively achievable maybe not a mansion, but something with more space than the home where you're living now.

Overcome Fear
Fear of failure means that you might avoid trying to succeed. Take your goal and write a list of benefits - imagine what good would flow from achieving it and write this down. Now write a list of obstacles to overcome in order to achieve our goal - is it really worth the effort

Turn bad luck into good
Your house purchase may have fallen through, but there maybe a better house about to come on to the market. Remind yourself about people in worse situations than you See if there isn't another way to achieve your goals.

Don't dwell on the negative
Go to a place where you can cry scream or punch something for 20 minutes - being able to prevent your emotions will do you good. Visit the gym watch a funny film or arrange to see a friend to take your mind off your problems.

Gambling Fallacies


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