For every winner, there has to be a loser …but there are normally a whole lot more!
EVERYONE DOES IT, although few will admit to it. Some don’t know they are doing it, most will never accept they partake in it but the plain truth is… everyone gambles.
Trust me they do, it’s like drug-taking, just because you don’t have a needle sticking out of your arm doesn’t mean you don’t do drugs. A glass of wine, a paracetamol, even a cup of coffee, are all drugs. Now tell me you don’t do drugs.
So, what kind of money does gambling generate every year? You could never put a figure on it. Because let’s face it, boarding a plane or even crossing a road represents a risk of sorts. Hell, it’s conceivable you could get a fatal papercut from opening a letter at the breakfast table. We all gamble, we don’t all punt at the races.
In my book, a true gambler knows a loss has to hurt because a win has to make a change to their life. Others, ironically some of the highest rollers, would be outraged at being labelled a ‘gambler’ seeing it as unpalatable and unjust, whilst also seeing profit-making as their godforsaken right.
Name Your Price
Want the proof? A band of well-to-do’s, Lords, Ladies and ironically titled Right Honourables numbering around 3,000 in the early ’80s and exceeding 32,000 at the end of Maggie Thatcher’s pioneering greed-fuelled decade enjoyed massive financial benefits from being a Lloyds Name.
Put no money upfront, although guarantee a nice round figure like, say a million or two, and enjoy the benefits of being in this select gentleman’s club which often yielded a thirty percent annual dividend.
This wasn’t gambling it wasn’t seedy in any way this was simply the rich getting richer year after year after year the only way they knew how.
But would you believe the simple connection between asbestos and cancer allied to an earthquake in San Francisco, a massive oil spill and a few related insurance claims et voila it was confirmed: These names had backed a loser for the first time ever. The year was 1992.
Most true gamblers would pay up and move on. Yet many names refused to acknowledge they were gamblers and were indeed partaking in risk-taking activities and so they took a completely different route, they squealed like lobsters facing the boiling pot and ran for the nearest rock to hide under.
Amazingly, despite enjoying a sizeable cheque in the mail every twelve months for years, no less than 1,200 names refused to settle on their losing bets claiming they had been misled in their investment. 200 even had the audacity to issue a counterclaim!
A mere sixteen years later a number of names remained in denial and continued to make every attempt to avoid paying their dues. Dragged kicking and screaming through every court in the land – with the possible exception of Hampton Court – their last three stops were the High Court, the Court of Appeal and finally, in 2009, the Bankruptcy Court.
The Game of Risk
At the opposite and very furthest end of the spectrum, there is the small select band of self-confessed hands-up addicted gamblers. These do not live in a manor house, were not born with a double-barrelled surname, inherited membership of the Royal Thames Yacht Club or were weaned with a silver spoon.
In truth these individuals would be more prone to make off with a silver spoon should they be lucky enough to come across one as their background is likely to involve a crime-ridden council estate, the source of their income are low paid menial jobs and that money is vacuumed into a fruit machine, plundered at a local bingo hall, futilely invested in lotto tickets or mindlessly spent on scratch cards. These unfortunates are unaware that Willy Wonka and his golden tickets are actually fictional. It’s called demographics.
You see it’s a fact that the vast majority of people who are addicted to gambling are addicted to mindless games of chance, games of excitement designed to captivate people prepared to risk what they cannot afford in the pursuit of something they cannot have. They are not captivated by the greed which fuels their more illustrious counterparts.
Occasionally one of this set suffers a lifestyle faux-pas, like a single parent with five kids working cash-in-hand at the corner shop who helps herself to a scratch-card and then a second and a third – in a vain hope to win big and treat her kids to a holiday in Disneyland – before she realises it, she has gone through every scratch card in the place valued at an irreplaceable £1,145.
Ultimately, she too will make a court appearance, the strangely more shameful Magistrate’s Court, which will be followed up by a scandalous and shocking set of headlines in the local rag.
Gambling and greed are related they are like an arranged marriage with your first cousin. Remember Nick Leeson, the Rogue Trader? By the time his undercover trading was discovered his employer’s, Barings Bank, were in a hole for £827 million. He never personally benefited from his illegal activities. A very special kind of gambler!
Amazingly, while Leeson was rotting in a Singapore jail for his transgressions, this pairing was keeping busy by seeking £880,000 and £500,000 in unpaid bonuses from the collapsed company which were directly related to the Rogue Trader’s non-existent ‘earnings’.
Money, money, money. It comes and goes. During times of recession bookmaking firms invariably announce increased profits. You see bona fide gamblers punt more during a recession because everyone is trying to win themselves out of a hole. That is a fact.
And what a big surprise when one of those recessions arrive. There is one every decade. They are as predictable as a tub of laxatives.
Recession ’92 was spurred on by Black Wednesday when the government pulled out of something called the European Exchange Mechanism. It cost the taxpayer £3.3 billion but, on the bright side one individual, a gambler, sorry currency trader, George Soros, cleared $1 billion in profit on the deal.
Closer to home thousands of poor plebs ended up losing their homes – or owing more on the property than the building was worth.
Property is the big gamble of the working classes most recently inspired by rose-tinted daytime TV shows sponsored by mortgage lenders. The message is simple and always the same: Borrow the money, buy a property, tart it up and rent it out. On the strength of that income buy another and do the same.
Before they know it, individuals own five houses, drive around in a new Jag and declare themselves to be property tycoons. Of course, they don’t really own the properties the bank does. When the brown stuff inevitably hits the whirly thing, the big corporation takes back both the keys to the houses and the car!
Let’s make it very clear, we are all very different but we all gamble and gamble for very different reasons.