If there’s one thing all gambling addicts agree upon, it’s this: Gambling ruins your life.
In the past, you needed to go out of your way to gamble. You had to go to a casino or find a booker to let you bet on games, etc. Now, the “opportunity” to gamble is in everyone’s homes and pockets thanks to the internet and smartphones.
The market size for sports betting and online gaming was valued at $53.7 billion in 2019 and soared to $66.7 billion in 2020, thanks in part to the worldwide lockdowns due to the pandemic. It’s projected to climb up to $92.9 billion by 2023 and continue to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 11.5%.
A recent study conducted in the UK found that “gambling has become a normalized aspect of sports fandom for male youth demographics, many of whom view the casual wagering of money as vital to their enjoyment of the sport.”
Famous sports teams shamelessly carry the logos of gambling sponsors on their shirts, the lives of the young and impressionable sports fans they put in danger be damned because it’s such a profitable business. Half of the Premier League’s 20 clubs have a gambling sponsor on their shirt. Don’t these clubs know that gambling ruins lives? Of course they do. But they couldn’t care less because money is sweet.
The overwhelming popularity of sports betting and online gambling is worrisome. Most people, especially young and impressionable people, aren’t aware of the dangers they’re setting themselves up for.
The goal of this article is to educate you about the dangers that sports betting and online gambling sets you up for so that you don’t get involved with them before it’s too late.
Since recovering from gambling addiction is as difficult as recovering from addiction to hard drugs, helping gambling addicts to quit is beyond the scope of this article. If you’re suffering from a gambling addiction, you should seek professional help.
Gambling Is As Old As Humanity
Smartphones are new but gambling is as old as humanity. Technology evolves but human nature remains the same. What entices humans to gamble is the good old greed combined with the ever-present human willingness to follow the path of least resistance. The allure of gambling is in the probability of making money without having to produce anything of value. All you need is to be lucky.
The problem is that no one gets rich by gambling. While you can find a few casino owners among the world’s richest people, you’ll find no gamblers. However, this reality doesn’t deter humans from gambling because gambling is purely emotional, not rational.
What makes gambling more sinister and insidious is that while people are largely aware of the dangers of drug, alcohol, and tobacco addiction, the perils of gambling addiction mostly fly under the radar of public consciousness.
Gamblers can also hide their addiction for a longer time than drug, alcohol, and tobacco addicts because they don’t lose consciousness like alcohol and drug consumers and don’t smell foul like smokers.
While there’s nothing new with the age-old human greed and the willingness to follow the path of least resistance, sport betting apps/websites and online gambling are new, which puts larger swaths of the population at risk for developing a gambling addiction.
You must understand: There’s absolutely nothing to gain from sports betting and online gambling and everything to lose; including your life.
When you’re gambling online you’re not only gambling with your money. You’re gambling with your life. Never forget that the number of problem gamblers who are proud of the day that they started gambling is ZERO.
Avoiding The Traps That Get You Hooked In On Sports Betting And Online Gambling
The human brain is a rationalization machine capable of rationalizing any behavior no matter how harmful or potentially harmful it is.
Sports betting and online gambling provide a rich soil for various rationalizations to grow.
Let’s analyze the common rationalization traps that potentially get you hooked in on sports betting and online gambling:
“If sports betting and online gambling were unsafe, the government would ban them.”
Governments and politicians aren’t your friends. They’re corrupt and unreliable. Governments love the gambling business because it provides a rich resource for tax revenue. Moreover, casino magnates have historically been some of the biggest donors to prominent politicians so that gambling doesn’t get outlawed.
While I’m staunchly against sports betting, online gambling, and gambling in general, I’m not sure if things will get better should governments ban them. Luckily you don’t need that.
You’re a sovereign person who doesn’t need government protection. You can protect yourself.
It doesn’t matter whether the government turns a blind eye to the dangers of gambling, or your favorite sports team has the logo of a gambling corporation on their shirt, or the media promotes it. Gambling is ruinous and you should be able to avoid it by thinking for yourself.
It’s 100% up to you to not gamble. No one can force you into it. No one will put a gun to your head and order you to gamble. Just say no.
“I know what I’m doing. I can control myself. I will never let my sports betting/online gambling habit get out of control.”
Don’t be so sure. You are a human and the laws of human nature apply to you too. You’re not somehow above the laws of nature. No one is.
Your brain’s reward circuit operates on dopamine just like everyone else’s. Winning in gambling heightens the dopamine levels in your brain which causes the feeling of pleasure and even euphoria. That’s what gets you hooked.
It doesn’t matter how smart or strong you are. History is filled with smart, strong, famous, or rich people who got hooked in on addictions and got destroyed by them.
All addictions start small but they get out of control. You are in control until you aren’t. All alcoholics and drug/tobacco addicts start consuming their drug of choice thinking they’ll never get hooked. When they realize they’re hooked, it’s already too late.
Gambling is no different. In fact, gambling is even more insidious because you can hide it a lot longer than you can hide your alcohol, drug, or tobacco addiction so you miss the opportunity for an early intervention by your family or friends who probably already think sports betting or online gambling is fine anyway.
“I’m only playing for peanuts. What’s wrong with having a little fun?”
Well, this is exactly where the gambling corporations want you to be. Their goal is to get you hooked. They know that once you’re hooked, there’s no going back. This is why all online sports betting and gambling corporations offer generous “welcome” bonuses. They give away free money knowing they’ll make a lot more down the line.
First you play for peanuts but you gradually up the ante. No one starts gambling by betting their entire wealth. The recent UK study that we’ve talked about at the beginning of this article dissected “the potential role of online sports gambling as a gateway to gambling-related harms, including financial precarity, indebtedness, mortgage defaults, family breakdown, loss of employment and mental health struggles” and concluded that “online sports gambling has significant public health implications, particularly for male youth demographics.”
Winning small at the beginning is what gets you hooked. You’re inclined to think “if I’m winning even as a newbie, I’ll win more if I master it.” We are all subconsciously aware that we get better with practice. Small winnings when you’re a newbie can make you think you can make a living out of gambling after you practice more and master it.
This is a delusion. Mastery is peak rationality. Gambling is purely emotional. There’s a reason why there are masters of all disciplines but there’s no master of gambling. Gambling is not a discipline. It’s the opposite of discipline.
“Hey, it’s good to take risks.”
Gamblers rationalize their gambling addiction by claiming that they have an appetite for risk-taking. “I love taking risks” they brag.
But there’s a problem. Gambling isn’t risk-taking at all. The giveaway is that genuine risk-taking isn’t exciting. It’s terrifying. Gamblers are giddy with excitement when they are supposedly “taking risks”.
Here’s a rule of thumb: If it’s exciting then it’s not risk-taking. There’s nothing to love about taking risks. Risk-taking doesn’t promise excitement. It promises fear. That’s why risk-taking requires courage. There’s nothing courageous about gambling.
If gamblers loved taking risks, why do gambling corporations advertise it as “risk-free”? Because gamblers aren’t risk-takers. Stop fooling yourself.
“You don’t understand, online gaming and sports betting are very popular. Everybody else is doing it including my friends. Millions of people can’t be wrong, right?”
People everywhere, especially young people, openly discuss the bets they place on sports games which goes to show that sports betting became socially acceptable.
That sports betting (or online gambling for that matter) became socially acceptable makes it even more dangerous, not less dangerous. Young people who otherwise have no interest in gambling participate in it just for the entertainment value, or the fear of being left out of the conversation, or even the fear of missing out.
I’ve written articles about how to stop watching porn and how to quit playing video games where I stated that those who don’t excessively consume porn or play video games probably shouldn’t bother trying to quit. But I have a different stance against sports betting and online gaming. Even little amounts aren’t ok. Gambling addiction is on par with addiction to hard drugs in terms of their capacity to destroy one’s life.
Who cares if everybody else is doing it? Regular readers of this site already know that “everybody else is doing it” is not a good enough reason to do something. If anything, it’s probably a good enough reason to NOT do it because if you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll end up miserable like everyone else.
5 Reasons To Stay Away From Sports Betting and Online Gambling
1. Gambling Is Addictive
Under all addictions lie a hormone and neurotransmitter called “dopamine” which is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward.
Dopamine is released in your brain when you make money, outcompete others and win, earn the approval of the opposite sex, have sex, eat, and gain social approval.
Note that all of these things improve your chances of survival and reproduction which is why your brain rewards you with pleasure for them. Nature intended this feeling of pleasure for nudging you into actions that enhance your chances of survival and reproduction.
Normally, all of these pleasures are supposed to be earned by hard work which is often referred to as delayed gratification.
However, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, gaming, porn, and junk food short circuit this reward mechanism and transport you directly to pleasure without you having to put in the effort. Since humans are also hardwired to follow the path of least resistance, you’re predisposed to develop addictions to vices that provide or promise instant gratification.
Gambling rewires your neural circuits in similar ways to addictive drugs. It short circuits your dopamine-induced reward mechanism by the promise of the pleasure of making money without having to work hard for it. You just need to be lucky or skew the odds in your favor. But the problem is that shortcuts don’t work. Gamblers always end up losing money.
People can and do recover [from a gambling addiction], but I hate to say it but the numbers are small. This is a tough addiction to recover from, unfortunately.
— Arnie Wexler (Gambling Rehabilitation Expert)
What makes gambling more dangerous than porn, junk food, or playing video games is that it’s a lot more destructive and once you get hooked you likely won’t recover. Your life is not worth risking for a little excitement by placing bets on a few football games or gambling for peanuts on your smartphone apps.
Former Premier League Arsenal football star Paul Merson has lost millions through gambling, which he says is “a worse addiction than alcohol or cocaine.”
If even one of the world’s most disciplined athletes can’t help but get addicted to gambling, what makes you think you’ll never get addicted?
History is filled with rich people ruined by their gambling addiction. If even the richest members of society can’t afford to gamble, what makes you think you can afford it?
2. Gambling Leads to Anxiety, Depression, And Even Suicide
It’s common for all addictions to lead to anxiety and depression. However, while you’re unlikely to contemplate suicide because of your porn, video games, or junk food addiction, you’re much more likely to attempt suicide because of a gambling addiction.
There are many studies showing how a gambling addiction severely heightens the risk of suicide. A recent Swedish study found that problem gamblers are at 15 times higher risk of suicide.
A Canadian study conducted among people who recently attempted to quit gambling found that 38.6% reported having only thoughts of suicide, and 32.7% reported a suicide attempt.
Is it really a good idea to risk developing an addiction that can lead to suicide?
3. Gambling Leads to Debt
Gambling and winning is more destructive than gambling and losing.
Because it’s a win or a winning streak that gets you hooked. Winning is addictive, more so when it’s as easy as placing a bet on an outcome. Even kids can do it. It’s a bona fide shortcut to winning with zero difficulties involved.
However, the odds are stacked against you. If they weren’t, casinos and gambling corporations wouldn’t exist. There’s a reason for the cliché “the house always wins.” It’s true.
Once you’re hooked you’re finished. Regardless of the outcome of a single bet, you are always compelled to play more. If you win you’ll want to play more to win more. If you lose, you’ll also want to play more because you’ll be compelled to win back your losses.
Since the odds are stacked against you, you’ll always end up netting a loss in the long run. You’ll go into debt.
Gamblers are notorious for borrowing money from their loved ones and even from strangers. Many gamblers are caught stealing from their workplaces.
Debt is destructive. It’s also one of the reasons why gamblers are likelier to attempt suicide.
4. Gambling Causes You To Lose Your Self-Respect
All addicts lie. Gamblers and drug addicts more so. Each time you lie, you lose a portion of your self-respect. Cheating and stealing are common among gamblers too which further eats away on your self-respect.
Almost all addicts long to quit their addiction. Since gambling is very difficult to quit, you’ll end up hating yourself each time you attempt to quit but relapse. You’ll be appalled by how little control you have over your own actions.
5. Gambling Ruins Your Relationships With Your Loved Ones
Addicts hate people who stand in the way between them and their source of pleasure. More often than not, these people are none other than their loved ones.
Gambling addicts are no different.
Anything that takes away from your gambling pleasure or that distracts you when you’re gambling is an annoyance. You hate your loved ones for distracting you when you’re gambling. You argue with them when they interfere with your addiction.
Let’s listen out famous football player Filipe Luis as he talks about how his brother’s addiction to gambling sites destroyed him and how gambling destroys families:
My brother is addicted to gambling sites and lost a lot of money. I see his daily fight against betting, trying to escape this cursed thing. I don’t want footballers involved at all – at all – because it’s an addiction that destroys families. There’s no limit, just someone at home who can’t stop: hiding away, borrowing money to keep gambling because that’s all they know. And in football, doors are opened as if it was normal: [it’s like] claiming smoking won’t hurt you. It’s on shirts. Instead of analysis, at half-time the TV talks about odds: on corners, shots, cards. How can that be? Whoever wants to bet, do it. But it shouldn’t be encouraged like this, telling kids to risk their money.
Sports betting and online gambling are gateways to a gambling addiction that leads to debt, anxiety, depression, suicide; makes you lose your self-respect, and ruins your relationships with your loved ones.
The addictiveness of gambling comes from the prospect of the pleasure of winning and the euphoria of making money. In fact, winning is so sweet that it’s hard to pull yourself out of even the prospect of it. Imagine how sweet it is to win in real life. Needless to say, making money is a by-product of winning.
Your dopamine-induced reward mechanism is intended to make you want to win in real life. Don’t hijack it by gambling. Winning in gambling doesn’t count and it’s not possible anyway, at least in the long run.
Don’t get hooked into sports betting and online gaming just because you’re playing for peanuts or you’re bored with nothing else to do. Being bored is not a good enough reason to bet on sports games or gamble online. In fact, boredom is a blessing. Consider yourself lucky that you have the free time to get bored. Turn your boredom into achievement. What separates a winner from a loser is that a winner embraces boredom when a loser escapes it like the plague. Making progress in real life is slow and boring but the rewards are worth it.
Gambling addicts often talk about losing control which is what a sovereign man needs the least. You must work to extend your circle of control, not shoot yourself in the foot by shrinking it.
Recall the scenes in casino movies. They monitor the tables at all times and beat the shit out of anyone who appears to be in control of the results. Because the real power is in control. If you’re not in control, you’re not the one who’s winning.
Never ever waste your precious time with sports betting and online gaming. Delete sports betting and online gambling apps from your phone if you made the mistake of installing them. Never visit sports betting and online gambling websites. Their popularity is even more incentive for you to stay away from them because you can outcompete other people when they’re busy wasting their lives away with those useless apps while you patiently build a life that you can be proud of.
Channel your masculine desire to outcompete others and win into becoming a superior man who competes and wins in real life where it matters.
Be sure to read:
- How to Be a Superior Man, Chapter 7: Develop Rock-Solid Self-Control (By Utilizing Dopamine The Way Nature Intended)
- How To Stop Watching Porn
- How To Quit Playing Video Games
- My 1 Year Without Drinking Alcohol: The Benefits and The Downsides
- Do You Really Take Responsibility For Your Life?
- What To Do When You Are Bored
- How Discipline Saves You From Stress, Anxiety, And Depression