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There is a scene in Attack of the Clones where Anakin visits Watto, his former master, and finds the Toydarian junk dealer in a state of poverty. The years following Skywalker’s emancipation have not been kind to the creature, who appears to have lost everything he owned due to some bad gambling losses that started with the Boonta Eve race that Anakin won and continued in a downward spiral. As a result, the once prominent businessman is left defeated and penniless, a mere shadow of his former self.

Watto_(AU)

To a person uninitiated with the world of gambling, this may seem like a crazy farce. I mean, no person in their right mind would willingly bet away everything they have, right? Nobody can be that stupid, can they?

As a blackjack dealer with ten years of casino experience, I can attest that not only does it happen, it occurs on a much larger scale than you might expect.

Before we begin, let me make this statement: There is nothing wrong with gambling when it is done correctly. In fact, it can be quite enjoyable. The entire experience is designed to engage all of your senses. Your eyes are dazzled by the brightly colored flashes of the slot machines; your ears prick up at the sound of players cheering loudly over a big win at the craps table. A waitress walks by you, and the drink on her tray looks cold and refreshing; in the distance, the aroma of the steakhouse wanders past your nose, erupting your hunger. A blackjack table is open, the dealer is smiling at you, and the night is crackling with possibility.

But for some people, there comes a moment when they are not drawn to the casino to have a good time. The excitement they once felt has been replaced by compulsion; it isn’t even a compulsion to win money, it’s just the insatiable need to get to the next hand, to see the next role of the dice, to pull that slot handle one more time. I have seen people win thousands of dollars and before the day is done they are broke, or down even more money than they started with.

I said that the compulsion isn’t to actually win money, but that doesn’t mean that the lost money does not affect their personality. Gambling addicts on a losing streak are some of the rudest, nastiest people you will ever meet. They will curse you, throw temper tantrums and start fights with other patrons (and the dealers), blaming them for everything that has happened to them. I see it ALL THE TIME. There is nothing worse than being on a table with a player that is having a bad day and is hellbound to ensure that you have one too. On top of that, the dealer knows with absolute certainty that the same guy will be back tomorrow because, believe it or not, there are customers that literally spend every day of their lives at the casino. Every. Single. Day.

I hate these guys. There, I said it! I hate them! They make my job miserable and I wish they would just go home and forget our address. Maybe I should be emphatic toward their problems, but I can’t do it anymore. They’ve sucked out every last drop of my willingness to care.

This blog is more of an angry rant than I intended. Sorry about that.

There are ways to avoid gambling addiction. First off, you need to understand that when you go to a casino, the odds are set up for you TO LOSE. It’s called the house advantage, and every game in the casino has it. Every game is designed to slowly pilfer your money, and the longer you play the worse it is going to get. So if you lose your bankroll, erase those thoughts of “I can get it back if I play some more.” Odds are it’s not going to happen, and you’ll just find yourself double the amount in debt.

Never play with more than you can afford to lose. If you’re debating whether you should buy in again or pay this month’s mortgage, get up and leave. It’s just not worth it. On a similar note, if you’ve come to the casino to make enough money to pay your mortgage, you’re in for a world of hurt as well. Gambling should only be about having fun with an amount of money that won’t get you divorced once it’s lost.

And if you find yourself in a situation where you feel you may have a gambling problem, get help immediately. Every casino in the United States offers assistance with gambling addiction. This includes the option to voluntarily ban yourself from the casino. There are also “AA” style group meetings. Every state is different. You are not alone in the struggle; millions of people share the same battle with you.

So if you come to visit me at my Blackjack table, pull up a seat, have a drink, and be prepared to have a good time responsibly. Just remember Qui-Gon’s words of wisdom, “Whenever you gamble, eventually you lose.”

YHOP’s ears (and his email) are always open!  Drop him a line at jamesh@coffeewithkenobi.com

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5 Comments

  1. Melinda
    August 13, 2014 at 08:01 Reply

    What a great read! 🙂 And educational to boot! 🙂

    It’s a shame you have to put up with those who cannot control themselves, James. I agree with you wholeheartedly — NEVER bet more than you are willing to lose! Because, yes, at one point or another, one WILL lose! It’s why I don’t really like going to Vegas or into any of the casinos one is likely to find in different states around the country (we have a few here). The odds are stacked against you — and I’m just not one to chance my hard-earned $$ on something that is … well, so chancy.

    Yep, Watto lost — big time! What a switch — Watto pretty much near the bottom, and Anakin well on his way to becoming a Jedi. How the mighty have fallen … 😉

    Qui-Gon’s words happened to be quite prophetic, hmm.

    MTFBWY 🙂

  2. Tommy Mac
    August 14, 2014 at 14:01 Reply

    I have some personal experience with this matter involving a family member and all I can say is: Gambling addiction is just as devastating and life threatening as any other addiction. And it can kill you just as easily as drugs or alcohol.

  3. Jay Krebs
    August 15, 2014 at 20:01 Reply

    I think it’s great that we have such a diverse array of bloggers on our “team” here at CWK! You have certainly lent a special edge to a subject with which the greater population may not have experience This is a topic that definitely deserves some attention, in more ways than one.

    I agree with Tommy – addiction in ANY form is devastating. It always starts the same – a “high” from winning, fuels the adrenaline rush, endorphins, what-have-you. The loss and/or the absence of winning is the “crash”, followed by the honeymoon period of hopefulness once again. Vicious cycle, indeed!

    Just like anything in life, we need to find moderation. Be it gambling, food, alcohol…toy collecting…whatever! I feel as though the biggest “key” is to be self-aware of one’s moods, reactions and state-of-mind. I know this isn’t always possible in a casino, especially when you compile gambling with alcohol, the excitement of the atmosphere (as you ponted out), etc.!

    Thanks for sharing your personal experiences on this, from the “other side” of the table! 🙂

  4. Becca Benjamin
    August 16, 2014 at 19:02 Reply

    Ah, the wonderful life of working with the public…”Not!” 😉

    Totally feel your pain, on some level. For over 20 years I worked in retail management and that was no picnic. There certainly are people that addicted to shopping and stealing too.

    It’s funny, I’m not a fan of the casino lifestyle. Sure it’s glamorous, with the lights and entertainment, but I’m not one to “gamble” away what I don’t have. For starters, money lol!
    On the other hand, my parents absolutely LOVE the casino lol!
    Great article as always, James 🙂

    1. YHOP
      August 19, 2014 at 22:43 Reply

      My first casino experience was at Casino Niagara, which is not too far from you lol. I didn’t gamble–I just went in to see what it looked like–and got kicked out for being underage.

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