You better, you better, you bet your life

Barry Freeman
Barry Freeman
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Never gamble if you can too easily afford not to win. By the same token never gamble if you can’t readily afford to lose.

In the first instance, obviously, anyone who can easily afford to lose doesn’t really need to win, and so will inevitably enjoy the experience far less.

The latter should require no further explanation, but what with problem gambling spiralling out of control in every direction one cares to peek it is probably safest to cross ‘t’s, dot ‘i’s and just spell it out.

Put simply, you’d be surprised how far one is permitted to sink in this mock-Christian, animal-loving Kingdom of ours, and take it from me – these full fathom depths are home to many a slave of the odds.

In 2006 Gamblers Anonymous (GA) estimated there were around 350,000 problem gamblers in the UK. The NHS estimates that figure is now somewhat closer to 450,000 – and if you were wondering why health professionals are involved it is because they now recognise gambling as a growing short cut to ruined health.

And ruined finances. Alongside mental and physical strain your addict is of course in constant danger of losing the shirt off their backs. Or their house. Around 25% of those who finally turn to GA for support have either filed for or subsequently goes on to file for bankruptcy.

Happily (if you are one who, like me, enjoys collecting concrete examples which illustrate just how little of a damn our leaders give about anything which damages mostly the poor), routes to this self-imposed destruction have never been more available or alluring, from online casino to scratchcard, bookie plague dog to their vampiric fixed-odds slot machines.

And it’s soooo alluring. Every ad break on every TV show (about half of which are now sponsored by Big Betting concerns based strategically offshore so as to pay minimal tax) now packs its share of gambling ads, and the basic rule of such promotions is simple.

Gambling is (a) sexy and (b) fun. And not just fun. Usually ha ha ha funny.

Never hardly stop laughing in gambling ads, and when they do it is usually to cheer a win.

Unless it’s the sexy gambling. Pretty metrosexuals in swish pads cocking brows and sundry stock mannerisms used to denote cool while playing online poker, presumably with other swish carefree professionals we do not get to see.

These latter ads, crucially, tend only to feature people who look as if they could afford not to win – the prize, ultimately, being dangled to lure in those who cannot.