Hope for a Dollar: A Bad Bet

   “Where else can you buy hope for a dollar?”  I just kind of stared at the person who said that to me in a conversation about gambling. “That’s really what people say about gambling?” I asked in disbelief.   At first I wanted to scoff at the stupidity of the idea; but quickly I was saddened as I realized how easily people sell not only their dollars but almost their souls for some hope.  That brief conversation was a stark wake-up call to me that we have enormous education work to do on gambling.

   Gambling is a zero-sum game.  Winner takes all; loser loses all he or she has in the game.  Gambling is indiscriminate in this win/loss setup.  Done legally, it’s no respecter of persons, whether we’re talking buying lottery tickets or playing slots or table games at a casino or falling prey to the online Daily Fantasy Sports games.  Someone wins, and someone loses.

   When you gamble a dollar, your hope is you will beat the very long-odds against you.  And of course, the house -- or the computer -- is always stacked against you. Always. Gambling wouldn’t be a multi-billion-dollar business if that weren’t true. The hope for a dollar is such sadly misplaced hope -- and it so rarely stops at one dollar. For far too many -- and this is especially true for those least able to afford to lose even a dollar -- trying to buy hope for a ...

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