WHY WE GAMBLE SO MUCH
Gambling has become one of the defining pleasures of our time, the perfect accompaniment to an era of high-risk, rigged economies and a looming sense of collapse. Once there was Las Vegas; now theres a Las Vegas in every phone.
You can bet on almost anything today. Elections. Literary prizes. If you have a feeling that, say, Lapuan Virkiä is going to beat Porin Pesakarhut in the womens Superpesis, the top professional pesäpallo league in Finland, you can put your money where your mouth is. During the pandemic, as casinos and racetracks closed, you could wager on the evenings forecast in real time, or on the upcoming winter snowfall. There was serious action on the highest daily temperatures of major American cities. Then there are the ads. If you watch sports regularly, you probably feel, as I do, that the games have become interruptions in a more or less constant barrage of wagering promotion. Gambling is swallowing sports.
The most straightforward reason for the surge in gambling is a change to the law: In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, opening the door to online sports betting across 21 states. As a direct result, sports-betting revenues grew 69 percent from 2019 to 2020 and another 270 percent during the first quarter of 2021. Total gambling revenues in the U.S. are set to break the $44 billion mark this year, approaching the size of the market for movies, books, and music combined. For a certain kind of American bettor, yesterdays Thanksgiving celebration meant wagering on favorites as much as eating turkey or passing out in front of the game. (In the NFL, by the way, playing the favorites is usually a poor bet because they tend to be overvalued, but on Thanksgiving the opposite is true: Since 2003, favored teams have beaten the spread an absurd 73.2 percent of the time, not counting this years games. Please do not take this as betting advice. As they say, Ive always been lucky with gambling: Ive never won.)
Humans are lazy and greedy. We want immediate gratification and rewards for little effort.
I don't gamble, except for tiny golf bets, because I work too hard for my money. Why would I piss it away on a game of chance where the odds are astronomically stacked against me? This goes for casinos, card and dice games, lottos, football pools and the like. I don't care if others want to participate, That's their choice and this is just the choice for me.
I do invest my money in the markets but the odds are generally deeply in the investor's favor, if they're patient. Without doing anything, my portfolio has increased almost 4% in the year-and-a-half of the pandemic. Imagine how things could be if Trump had handled Covid professionally and intelligently!
By the way, this is the single greatest illustration of how stupid Donald Trump has been in his life. Had he taken the $400 million he inherited from his father and invested it in an indexed fund, he would have several billion dollars today without having had to do anything. Instead, he pissed it away-- even on casinos where the odds were something like 95%-5% in his favor!-- on stupid "business" deals that all inevitably failed, including most of his prized golf courses. Trump's house of cards is completely built around debt and cash flow. It's an unsustainable balancing act. The collapse will be epic.
Where are the Hitler comparisons with that one?
unless you can afford or are willing to underwrite your own risk. It's a gamble from both sides, much like the house in a casino from the insurance company's standpoint.
What insurance does, for a price, is transfer risk from those who are less able to take the risk, to those who are more able to do so. Or it socializes a risk over a large population, so risk is less of a burden for any one individual.
If they were ever lucky enough to get together in the first place.