Gambling has never been a problem with me. Sure I like the odd flutter, as does everyone, but I’m always well aware that the odds are stacked against me right from the start, and if I keep playing, the tables, slots, or horses, will win in the end. It must, as everyone, including the Government is busy skimming. We have lived ten years now in Christchurch, and I’m yet to make my initial inspection of their Casino. We have often intended to make a visit, but to date have never got around to it.


I find too that these establishments are full of sad people. But this doesn’t stop us when on visits to Australia, and joining a Sports Club while over there. Where else can you eat so well, and cheaply? It doesn’t seem to have got through to the average punter, that the bank upon bank of slot machines are not there, solely for their amusement. These slots coupled with liquor sales, are there to subsidise all the clubs other activities. And they do this very nicely. I said earlier, that I find anywhere that there is gambling, for some they become a very unhappy place. You would think with all the hype, they should be happy places. But there you will find many people with a gambling addiction, and it effects them every bit as bad as alcoholism. One of the things that forms my opinion is the sight of people buying pot after pot, all filled with coin, to feed it mindlessly through the slots. They seem to be completely mesmerised by the process, and oblivious to everything else in their surroundings, only machine they are playing commands their attention. These people are completely hooked, and require help.


I can’t stop myself wondering, Why are these people so stupid? And is their families food money, rent, or whatever that’s being poured down into the slot. Don’t they know they can’t possibly win?


The Australian Government has an embryonic bill waiting in the wings to get passed that has sent a shiver of fear down gambling establishment’s spine. Broadly the thrust of the Bill is that the Club or Establishment must declare up front just how much each punter is prepared to and allowed to lose. In the past people have gambled away colossal sums of an employer’s and families money, with no possibility of ever recovering any. So I can see from where the Government is coming from.


So far I have only been speaking about coin machines but the heavy gambler goes for the more traditional and sophisticated games. With these games your money is turned into tokens or chips before the start of any game such as Roulette or Blackjack. Poker too has always been popular, but luck seems to be a more necessary requirement, as well as any skill you can bring to the table. You can’t be too clever gambling, or wining too often either. If you have the ability to ‘card count’ playing Blackjack, the establishment will soon deny you access to their tables. You need to remember their motto. ‘Never give the sucker an even break.’


Our whole society is riddled with games of chance from simple club raffles to lotto probably the largest. Every factory always seems to have someone running ‘Rat’ doubles. These if you don’t know what these are, they are based usually on two premium races on a card. These are set out together on two sides. If there are twelve horses in each race you have 144 choices. Fine if you get in early as the odds are good, but the ‘Book’ usually makes sure the favourites are sold or taken by the time the mug gets a chance to make his pick. The book pays out the same price no matter who wins.


In the services gambling was rife. On a troop ship we came in contact with Americans and cheats. They introduced us to ‘Crap’ which was played with dice. They always seemed to win until we discovered their ‘Honey Dice’ These dice were partiality filled with clear honey and were a great aid to making a point. We retaliated by teaching them to play Crown and Anchor. This time we only played with two dice, so they learnt a lesson too.


I occasionally buy a lotto ticket and I know I have as about the same chance of winning as being struck by lightening. I’m allowed to dream how I would go about spending my windfall.


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