The romanticised idea of gambling

Gambling has been romanticised since time immemorial. Romanticised ideas around gambling emerge early, through the celebration of games such as “two-up” and figures such as Phar-lap in our national lore. Movies such as “21”, “Ocean’s Eleven” and the James Bond franchise also do much do romanticise the idea of gambling, depicting it as an activity for charismatic, attractive and successful people. More recently, billionaire David Walsh, who has made a fortune from sports gambling, has captured the public’s imagination, giving people the hope that they can too beat the system, and end up on top.

In short, we are all exposed to stories which encourage us to romanticise gambling as an attractive activity that successful people engage in, the implicit message being: “If I’m clever enough, I too can win and end up on top.” Have you ever had these thoughts?

These unrealistic ideas lure people in, and contribute to the formation of positive associations with gambling. But these positive associations can lead to a slippery slope.

For those of us who have ever experienced problems with gambling, it’s clear that these ideas disguise an uglier reality. The reality is that most gamblers lose, no matter how clever they are; it has nothing to do with being intelligent. This is because every gambling game is specifically designed to favour the house. So winning in the long run is impossible by definition for luck-based games such as the pokies, scratchies and roulette, no matter how clever you are. But even games with a skill component such as horse racing or sports betting, are near impossible to win on in the long run, with odds for turning a meagre profit over a year of regular wagering not much better than one in a million, even if you do your homework.

Do you romanticise the idea of yourself as a gambler? Do you believe that you can win if you work the system? Do you know you can’t win, but can’t stop anyway?

If gambling is, or is becoming, a problem for you, help is at hand. Free, confidential and non-judgmental support and treatment is available – call Gambling Help at any time on 1800 858 858.

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