Written by on March 9, 2022

This month, I chat about an issue that has exploded in New York. A lot of people have been, are or will take advantage of it, but for me, it’s a turn off and I’ll tell you why.

Online gambling is now approved in the state. Instead of fantasy leagues, casinos, OTB, or maybe Saturday night bingo and lottery games, here’s another way to spend your hard-earned cash, in this case, from the comfort of your own home.

If you have the money available to spend on this stuff, go with God and have fun. That said, here’s the reality. With rare exceptions, money spent on a horse, football game or Powerball, will most likely be pissed away. They don’t call it a game of chance for nothing. Out of every bet or wager in my 66 years on this earth, not once did the payoff equate to instant retirement.

Americans are a competitive lot. If there’s a chance of “winning,” we take it, whether or not money is involved. How many movies or television shows have you watched with someone and said something like, “I bet this is gonna happen next,” or, “I bet he’s the killer.” No money is exchanged, but if your “bet” turns out right, you become the intolerable cock of the walk.

That’s part of my problem with online gambling. There’s nothing you can’t bet on, it seems. This may be an exaggeration, but here are some things I think you can bet on say, in the Super Bowl (ironically enough, I am writing this on the day of the Big Game.)

Who wins the coin toss? Who gets the ball first? Who scores first? Who intercepts first? Will the National Anthem performance be good or suck? Same for the halftime show. Which player or coach or announcer will scratch their nuts first on live television? Finally, a simple bet; who will win the damned game?

We are a nation who will wager on anything and everything, no matter how near impossible the odds are of winning. And if I am to believe some of the ads for these online betting sites, if you make a bet, in some cases, win or lose, you’re given a credit to bet again in the future. That’s like sitting in a bar and getting hammered, and at closing time the bartender gives you a free six pack on your way out as if to say your next drink when you sober up is on them. Lastly, if I heard correctly, you can place bets during an actual game. 

Again, I have nothing personal against people betting. I’ve done it myself. Nine times out of ten I have lost and I am happy with the results, overall. When my wife and I play the slots, we take a set amount of money and assume we will lose it all. When we do, we go home, no extra bank withdrawals, no hocking jewelry, no turning into Jeff Spaulding, Male Prostitute (shout out to SNL on that one).

However, and this is important, every commercial or ad for a gambling venue or site nearly always has a warning saying something like, “Have a gambling problem? Call XXX-XXX-XXXX to get help.” For people with addiction problems, they don’t hear that part, they hear the words “win”, “easy”, “money”, etc. They don’t care how the sausage is made, or how unhealthy that sausage will be for them, they only know that sausage tastes really good.

Here’s my main reason the whole wagering thing hits a nerve. Before online gambling, before OTB, before lottery games, there was betting on the ponies by going to your bookie.

My father died in 1969 at 56. When he died, he owed a boatload to the bookie, who wasn’t going to accept a payment plan. A week after he died, my mother, brother-in-law and I (I went for the ride) went to a seedy part of downtown Albany (which doesn’t exist anymore) to pay the bill. I saw how scared my mother was. I know my mother paid money we didn’t have, mainly for “insurance” to make sure no “accidents” would happen to her only son.

Play safe New York, have fun New York, but don’t bet (then lose) the farm if you can’t afford it.

Be hearing you

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