I watched The Last Dance documentary on Netflix. Understanding all that goes into the basketball game was eye-opening. I now have more respect for Michael Jordan based on how he mastered the craft and gave it his all. Leading the team to success all those years couldn’t have been easy. His resilience, confidence, hard work, and determination were admirable. But what caught my attention was the discussion on gambling. For a minute there, he could have lost all he had just because of a gambling problem. In 1993 during an interview with Ahmad Rashad, he made it clear that he didn’t have a gambling problem. He had what he referred to as “competition” issues. He could bet with anyone, including security guards. Well that aside, this whole fiasco had me thinking about gambling addiction in the United States.
As a community, when we talk about addictions, the first point of reference is drugs. But there is more to addiction than meets the eye. People can be addicted to many things other than drugs. Recently I outsourced essay writing services to write a blog post. From the post, I realized that addiction is a discussion that is ignored more often than not. Studies show that at least 2.6% of the population has some kind of gambling problem. This figure accounts for over ten million people in the US who struggle with the habit. The National Council on Problem Gambling has been at the forefront of addressing these gambling issues. From their analysis, approximately 15% of Americans gamble once every week. Also, 40% of people addicted to this habit began gambling before the age of 17. This goes to show that such behavior begins at a tender age. The addiction is rooted deep into the lives of these individuals.
What is Las Vegas known for? All the casinos and gambling habits have been normalized in our society. Gambling is a successful venture because it has been accepted as a form of recreation. But exposing people to such environments is a trigger of some sort that facilitates the prevalence of this behavior. With all the research papers I have done on this topic, the lack of control over this habit has created a generation of addicts. The US federal government has left the regulation issues to the states. This is why gambling might be illegal in your state, but still advertised in Las Vegas. The result is a lack of commitment due to the absence of robust policies.
Why gambling is bad for the economy
I found it interesting that the ripple effect of gambling addiction is directly linked to the economy. From this addiction alone, it accumulates over six billion dollars yearly, affecting the US economy. When gambling becomes a problem for you, many areas of your life will start to suffer. For many employees, productivity will become an issue because the focus is on gambling what you have. With such a shift in focus, the economy suffers when the population’s productivity is low. When chronic gamblers have run into bankruptcy, many turn to crime to get money. So the government spends the majority of its resources on incarcerations. This is the cost of prosecution, restitution, and supervision. These are funds that could have been spent elsewhere in the development of the nation.
Many people would say that the casino business or slot machines boost the economy. But the reality is this business steals customers from other enterprises. If they can spend half of their income gambling, what happens to other businesses? You will notice that in states where gambling has been legalized, companies have reported bankruptcy. The success of the economy depends on the ability to create a sustainable balance. One industry alone cannot sustain an economy. It is the contribution of different industries that make it capable of supporting its people.
What is the solution?
The Federal State should be more invested in the matter. Gambling is not just a personal issue; it affects the family and community too. The most immediate solution you can take is to seek help. American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association have acknowledged gambling as a mental disorder. These casinos are leveraging on a person’s inability to control themselves from their impulses. You can enjoy gambling as a recreation activity. But when it starts to become a situation that trickles down to your daily activities, now we have a problem. Know when to ask for professional help. Just like drug addiction, the repercussions are as lethal. It destroys relationships, finances, jobs, and families. Don’t be ashamed of the stigma. Seek help and have an accountability person in your corner.