Why the Gambling Stigma?

I’m a gambler.  I can say this here clearly with pride for a couple of reasons, first my reading audience is in the low single-digits and second I don’t use my name on this blog.  When I’m at work or with family I feel the need to minimize my affection for gambling.  I have a few close friends who know my ‘secret’ and they view me with a combined sense of interest and disdain.

Why do I feel the need to hide my hobby?  My friends spend thousands of dollars on their biking or skiing or video games or whatever it is that gets them through the hours not spent at work or with their families.  I spend relatively little on my extracurricular activity and, oh by the way, I have a fairly solid chance of actually earning money while enjoying hours of entertainment.

The folks at the American Gaming Association know that this is an issue and they have started a campaign called Get to Know Gaming.  The basic idea is that they want regulators, politicians, and local governments to think of gamblers as regular upstanding citizens.  The interesting thing to me about this AGA campaign is that for the most part the people I meet in major casinos are very respectable people.

The challenge is that when debates on gaming come up in politics the anti-gaming crowd tends to use the ‘other’ side of gaming as their example.  The examples that are rolled out are bars with video poker, backroom gas station machines and ‘lottery cafes’ where mainly low-income people with little opportunity are preyed upon with the lure of fast cash.  These examples to me are not gaming, they are oppression mechanisms for the lower rungs of society.

Maybe I’m being too cut and dry with my characterizations of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ gambler, but in my opinion when done in a thoughtful and fun manner that doesn’t put your livelihood at risk gambling is a more than acceptable hobby.  I’m proud to be a blackjack player and gambler.  Hopefully I’ll be part of a new movement that helps to make it more socially acceptable in the near future.

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