If you’re one who gets together with your buddies for a friendly game of pinochle or with family friends and play bridge, you are not unusual or alone. Those games are basically for fun and are harmless. But if you are thinking about making the jump from a casual game of cards to something even more serious, or even becoming a professional full-time bettor, you may be heading straight to hell. In case you missed it, betting—in particular professional sports betting—is becoming rampant here in the U.S.
The New Roman Empire
It’s not new…I think gambling was pretty popular in the Roman Empire, too! They went to hell and we are heading there as well.
Today, the idea of professional sports betting is an alluring goal. Some people even think of it as job where you get to sleep in, kick on ESPN for a few hours, head to the books or online to make your bets, and then sit at home counting your stacks of $100 bills. That may be true for one in a million, but seriously? Do you think that the “odds” are in your favor here?
The idea of gambling and making money has slowly and yet steadily gained traction here for decades. We all are aware that betting on the horses has been around for a long time. It also seemed to always carry a distinct feeling that it wasn’t done often by the average person and was more of an “illicit” activity. Boxing can be lumped into that same pot, too. Betting on that was usually done by guys named “Lefty” or something like that.
Now we have casinos, lotteries, sweepstakes, and even your church has bingo night with prizes. In fact I “bet” you can name even more. That was a bad joke, but you get my point.
Vegas and A/C
I can recall when one of the only legal places to gamble on anything was in Las Vegas. And then in the mid-1970s, Atlantic City opened up its first casinos and people like my mom and dad hopped on “free” buses to get to it and play games there.
Nowadays, there are casinos just about everywhere. Seriously, you almost can’t avoid them and that includes anyplace you travel outside the U.S. as well. Gambling is a huge business.
In the beginning, it was mostly harmless penny and nickel slot machines, but soon it was betting on just about every kind of thing you can think of including betting on professional sports. That’s when I first became aware of it. Well that and seeing movies and reading books about the culture back in Rome a few thousand years ago. I wouldn’t have wanted to be a gladiator that was being wagered at 200 to 1 at the Coliseum back then, would you?
Is Professional Sports Betting a Career?
Betting as a profession? It seems it can be very lucrative. In fact, as I think about it, it has almost become downright honorable and acceptable.
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably have heard the name “James Holzhauer”. He was a recent champion on the TV show Jeopardy! and won millions of dollars there over weeks of appearances. He is a very bright guy and I am not knocking his winning on the show. The thing that stood out in my mind was what he did for a living. He is a professional sports gambler. That’s just a single example of its acceptability.
Sports Betting Right Now
I am not sure as to exactly when or why, but right now professional sports betting is everywhere. I am a big baseball fan as you may know and I am a purist. I like a National League team (the Atlanta Braves) and have been a fan since I was seven years old (over 65 years). I am slow to accept changes in the rules of the game and I hate the designated hitter rule and have for decades.
But what has astounded me is this: You can’t watch a baseball game on TV today without seeing and hearing about gambling on the games. There are so many apps and sites that are now in business and willing to take your bet (and your money) on everything from the outcome of a game to how many pitches a batter will see when he comes up to bat. I mean, do you think that’s a healthy reality that you can accept? Plus these outlets try to lure you in with misleading offers (read the fine print!) and start you on a road to ruin.
I wonder how Pete Rose (banned from baseball and the Hall of Fame for betting on games despite being the most prolific hitter in history!) feels about all of it.
Not only are people like me seeing it, your kids are being exposed to it as well. That’s very dangerous.
Where Are We Heading?
There are a lot of people attempting to make the jump from casual gambling to a much bigger scene and risking falling flat on their faces when they do. It may take a while before you find out about someone you know who has tried it, but what is it doing to our culture and our kids? They are the future and if they become involved in this kind of culture as kids, where are they heading?
Our economy has been suffering from a pandemic, inflation, unemployment, and disasters like floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires. Betting on your favorite team seems like an easy way to fight off economic stress. Is it?
There’s a reason they say that the house always wins. Gambling can give you some big wins if you’re lucky, but long term, that’s difficult to sustain. Meanwhile those wins, no matter how few and far between, can be addictive. And when that happens, the bettor is likely to lose control, lose money, and even lose relationships.
It’s not that I’m completely against gambling for recreational purposes. In fact, my wife and I like to make occasional trips to Atlantic City to bet some money at the penny slots. But those trips are limited by time, geography, and money, unlike the ubiquitous professional sports betting.
Being a Professional Sports Bettor Is NOT a Job
I tout side hustles, career training, going to school, and learning all the time. Watching ESPN or the MLB channel all day to decide which is the best bet of the day and its payout is not getting an education to hone a skill and make a career. Sorry, it’s not. Doing that will put a lot of gray hairs on your head, but even worse it will more than likely ruin your finances and your relationships. I assume they are both important to you.
I’m angry and here’s why: Gambling is way out of control and ruining lives.
Last week I actually called the MLB channel and tried to lodge a protest about all the emphasis on professional sports betting. In fact, what blew my mind is that they now have a show that is aired that only talks about the betting odds on players, games, and anything else you can name. It took a leap forward when they did that and I find it disgusting. What’s next? This next pitch can be bet on as to whether it will be a ball or a strike? I’m not sure that’s not in the plan.
Do you bet on sports? Do you like the idea that kids are being raised thinking that betting is a good way to make money? Is betting on sports really any different from investing in the stock market? Are we heading to hell and taking the express train to get there? What do you want to bet me that we are?