America’s Addiction with Gambling

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Right now, I’m sitting at a hotel in upstate New York. It’s -2°F. That’s -16.67 °C. It’s bone chilling. It’s snowing too.

But you wouldn’t know it if you were inside the hotel. Because there is a big casino downstairs on the first floor, where hundreds of Americans are gambling. The casino stays open twenty-four hours. Even at three o’clock in the morning, if you’re a night owl, you can come to see the casino is wide open. Even at that wee 3 A.M., you can find at least a few dozen people playing their money on slot machines.

I am not a night owl. But I have an American colleague who is. She told me — in front of her husband, jokingly — when her husband went to bed at midnight after watching a movie on their room TV, she waited for a little while, put her clothes on, came down the elevator, and snuck into the casino. She said she had to do it.

She is not a compulsive gambler. She only played pennies and nickels, and lost $22. But the night before, she had won $18, and so, it evened out. I’m glad she knew when to stop.

She is a sensible, responsible, hardworking woman. She is a mother and grandmother. She just wanted a little fun. It’s completely fine.

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But many Americans don’t know when to stop. They keep gambling, and most of them lose money. They keep losing money, and they don’t even realize how much they’re losing. Or, even some of them do, they get so hooked that they can’t quit. It’s like any other addiction: smoking, drinking, or must I add…porn. It’s a terrible addiction, and it can ruin your life.

And it can ruin all that you have built so painstakingly in your life: family, love, and relationships. Even young kids are getting hooked!

Over the past two or three years, I had indirect encounters with casinos. My family and I went on our first and only cruise ship vacation across the Gulf of Mexico. On the huge Carnival Destiny, we saw how ordinary Americans — of all colors, shapes and sizes — were gambling, leaving the beautiful sea breeze coming into the open deck balconies for only a handful non-gamblers like us to bathe in. Last year, I had two conferences: one in Las Vegas, and the other one in Kansas City, Missouri. In fact, the KC conference was in January this year. Both were held at big hotels where they had casinos. I saw how thousands of people, including some of our conference participants, went down into the big, glitzy halls to play their hard-earned money, only to lose and get frustrated.

Then, on our way back from Las Vegas, we saw some of those frustrated gamblers to play slot machines at the airport, as if desperate to make up for their losses — only to lose more and lose again, and be even more frustrated.

Then, back home in New York City, I’ve seen people hungrily buying Powerball and Lotto and Mega Million tickets on a weekly basis, and the many other little lotteries on a daily basis, asking the ticket sellers to punch numbers they brought in with them. Every time I saw it, I said to them (silently), Good Luck!

Good Luck, America!

Just Observing, without Being Too Judgmental,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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