Source: Google photo of a gambling addict
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Synopsis: The addiction to gambling destroys lives of millions of people as surely as drugs and alcohol. It’s lure enslaves people who only end up in a bad way. The blog looks at the perils of gambling addiction and how to not fall into the trap it sets for you that is very hard to get out of without any damage. It can alter your life in a very negative way so don’t be tempted by its false allure that can ruin your life.
We humans are susceptible to many types of addiction that we suffer from and ultimately pay a very high price often with our life. Addictions like drug, alcohol, smoking, certain food and drinks, sex, chewing Paan or kat to get a kick are just the ones I can think of right now, but I am sure there many other types of addiction that are not in the list. These addictions do far more harm to a person than the temporary kick he or she gets from it so it ultimately destroys a person and throws him into the abyss he cannot escape from.
People shun such an addict. The employer shows him the door. His family suffers financially and socially so he drags down his family because he is an addict. He must have a daily dose of his addiction medium and will go any length to get it but fails to get help. There are clinics or help centers where the trained personnel try to detox his body and mind, but the former is easier than the later although the process is very painful.
Once a person gets hooked on any type of addiction, he loses his ability to see through the logic and act on it, so he surrenders to the devil that makes him a very sick person who ends his life in a bad way.
But today I will write about an addiction that is like no other that has ruined the lives of millions of people all over the world and continues to do so. It is called the addiction of gambling. This addiction starts early when a person is young and steadily increases its hold on the person until he ends up in jail or dies of utmost poverty and destitution. All addictions start with a small dose, but the addict soon starts to crave for more and more.
I will cite many types of gambling here and give many examples that will open your eyes to the menace that is literally all around you. Sometimes an addict will invite you to join him or her in his house where he will introduce you to your first dose of it by insisting that it is nothing serious. Remember that all addictions start with a small dose at first.
The mental addiction to gambling also starts with a small dose at first. If you go to a bar to get a beer with your friends while watching the football or baseball game on TV when someone says 20 dollars say that the batter or the player will miss the shot. Soon many beer drinkers join in the bet and put out some dollar bills. The bartender then keeps track of the total money collected and gives it to the person who won while keeping a percentage for himself. It all sounds very innocuous, doesn’t it?
People bet on horses, on cock fighting, on cricket matches, football games or just about anything but the most devastating type of gambling is promoted by the casinos where one can lose thousands of dollars betting on cards or the roulette. They do not know that the casino operator rigs the bet in his favor, so he always wins.
The occasional wins are shown to the bettors to make them think that the system is fair so take your gamble and roll the dice. You may turn out to be the winner in your next move, so people go to the casinos and gamble away their hard-earned money and come out a pauper while his wife sheds tears because she is unable to stop her husband who is addicted to gambling. The addiction to gambling is so powerful that it starts to control the brain of a person so he keeps gambling even if he knows that he will lose.
Source: Google painting of Yudhistir gambling in the court of Dhritarashtra that led to shaming of Draupadi.
There is a story from Mahabharata that is worth mentioning here. The brother of the queen Gandhari was called Shakuni who was a trickster par excellence who invited Yudhistir to a chess game called shatranj. He was the eldest brother of the Pandavas who was addicted to gambling so he accepted the challenge of playing a game of shatranj with Shakuni not knowing that he had rigged the dice in his favor beforehand.
The other four brothers and their common wife Draupadi were present in the King’s court to give support to their elder brother, but they were very worried about the addiction of Yudhistir because he kept on losing every bet but kept on playing and betting his jewelries and lost that too.
But Shakuni was not done with him so asked him what else he could bet for the next round as he had lost all his money and even the jewelries so blinded by his addiction Yudhistir then bet his wife Draupadi. The whole court was watching, and they were shocked when he lost that bet as well so now Draupadi was under the power of Shakuni, and he could do anything with her. Draupadi pleaded and cried but a bet was a bet so Shakuni told his guard to undress Draupadi in front of everyone to insult her and all her husbands who were helpless. She was married to all five brothers.
When Draupadi was being undressed, she prayed to Krishna to come to her aid, so Krishna made her Sari very long, so the guard finally gave up when he failed to undress her. Draupadi then made a vow that she will not bind her hair until she had drenched her hair in the blood of her assailant. Later this insult and the refusal to share the kingdom with the Pandavas by the Kauravas led to the Mahabharat battle that the Pandavas won and Draupadi got her revenge when Arjun killed the fellow and brought his blood to Draupadi.
Now you can see how the mind of Yudhistir was addled because of his addiction who even bet his wife that he had no right to do but that is the story. This kind of addiction is very dangerous so the end result can be tragic as was the case of Kauravas in the battle when thousands of them died. If you go to Angkor wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, you will see the entire story of Mahabharata etched on the 4 kilometers long gallery on the granite walls surrounding the world-famous temple there.
Now I will tell you other stories I know of gambling addiction a fellow suffered from who lived in our neighborhood. He had purchased a house, kept a car and a high-profile existence spending his money like crazy on business that failed and growing vegetable that too failed. But he was addicted to cock fighting that is very common in this country and kept many fighting roosters that he bet on and kept losing. He even tried his hand in local politics and failed to get any votes, so he wasted a lot of money.
Finally, the inevitable happened. He lost his house that the bank repossessed and his car that he could not make payments on so that too was taken away. So one day he disappeared leaving behind a mountain of debt everywhere. The tragedy was that he had retired with a good pension and enough money to live on, but his addiction brought him down in a big way. His family suffered due to the bad habits of the fellow.
Now I will tell you a third story that is quite melodramatic as well. There was a fellow who worked as a manager of a section in an aircraft manufacturing plant that paid him quite well, but he was a secret gambler who kept on losing money, so he did the unthinkable. He sold his unfinished house to repay his debt, but it was not enough because he had borrowed money from the loan sharks to meet his gambling debts. Now his wife and three innocent children were in big trouble when one day he ran away to hide from the loan sharks and abandoned his wife and kids.
It was shocking how a person can behave who was completely controlled by his addiction. His wife then asked for help from her brothers and sisters who found the fellow in another city where he was hiding and brought him home. Her brother pleaded with the loan sharks to save the family and take some money without the exorbitant interest so finally the shark agreed and let him go. He was lucky that they let him go because these are very nasty people like the mafia. What happened to him, and his family is not worth telling here so I will move on. It is also not known if he ever paid her brother and sister who bailed him out to save the family.
Once I took a boat from Hong Kong to Macau but was very annoyed by the Chinese who were gambling in the boat and hit their mahjong pieces hard on the table. Now imagine more than a hundred mahjong playing Chinese all doing the same and you will understand my annoyance. They were all going to Macau to gamble but could not wait until they got there. The Chinese government only allows Macau to operate casinos, so all the Chinese gamblers make a bee line to Macau to lose their money there.
So, mahjong, game of cards, blackjack, roulette, poker are all very addictive games that people play and lose money. Then there is another type of gambling that is called lottery that is run by the government of many countries. They sell the lottery tickets to anyone who cares to buy it and the winner may take away millions of dollars in cash. The caveat is that only one winner out of hundreds of thousands who bought the tickets wins. The government makes huge profit from the sale of the tickets and gives the winner a lump sum amount. The rest go again to buy their tickets for the next round and lose their money again.
In this country very poor people fall in line every morning to buy their tickets and hope to win but only a lucky person wins. There are some stories that go around when a winner gets a jackpot of several millions of Pesos and invests wisely in a huge dormitory for students that generates steady income for him while other winners waste their money in gambling and return to poverty again. The hope to win a jackpot someday is so intoxicating that they keep on buying lottery tickets but never win. I consider it to a kind of gambling although the sum lost in buying ticket is small.
If you ever go to a racecourse where horses are run, you will be approached by an old man in very shabby clothes who will whisper to you that he has the inside knowledge of which horse is most likely to win so if you bet on the horse, he may get a small reward. These are con men who tell the same story to all the bettors so someone may believe them. In this business, a sucker is born every minute.
Source: Google photo of Russian roulette played during the Vietnam war as was shown in the movie Deer Hunter.
In the movie Deer Hunter, there is a scene in the China town called Cholon in Saigon where desperate people played Russian roulette which was played by two people facing each other. A loaded gun was placed in the hand of a player that had only one bullet, but the player did not know which chamber had the bullet. People then started betting if the fellow will die if he pulled the trigger on his head. If he missed, then the gun was given to the next player and again the betting started until one was dead and the other winner. The dead body of the GI was then thrown into the river through a hole in the floorboard. I knew such gambling took place in the shady part of Cholon when I was in Vietnam during the war.
If you keep company of people who will drag you into a situation where you are asked to join a poker game or any other form of gambling, it should ring an alarm bell in your brain. You should refuse to participate in gambling and to be coerced to do so by your so-called friends because such people can never be your friends.
You may have fewer friends, but you will live a clean life that will gain you respect from people who know you and even your wife and children who depend on you. It will develop your strong character and moral fortitude so you will not be easily persuaded by the gamblers to join them. Just remember that the peer pressure plays a role in getting you addicted but such people vanish when you have lost everything including your sanity.
I have written a blog called Peer pressure and alcohol that you may read in this context. Millions of people suffer from alcohol addiction and many end up dead. Also read my previous blog called An addiction like no other, part one here.)
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