zduelling with the fates can be such a rush that it's sometimes hard to know if you're having fun or indulging in pathological behaviour. It's a a wise gambler who knows the difference. Placing too much importance on a lottery ticket or a casino romp is a telltale sign of over-investment. If you're playing for rent money, to pay debts or to change your life, you're on the road to trouble. Gambling sanely means knowing exactly how much you're going to bet and establishing how much you'll let yourself win before walking away.
Healthy wagering is a sort of Zen thing - it soars on the sheer fascination of wondering what will happen next, but it also assumes and is not upset by the reality that one will surely lose. Of course, even if you can detach yourself in this way, you'll still be surrounded by people caught up in a more negative trip. You'll be watching those for whom winning can actually be worse than losing: the folks trapped by the vision of the next big win.
Those mired in this addiction are often more vulnerable to alcohol or drug abuse and to stress-related illnesses such as ulcers, colitis, high blood pressure, heart disease and migraines.
Addictive gambling can also lead to crime when your job no longer pays enough to support your habit, and carries a heavy risk of suicide. So even temperate gamblers lay their bets in an environment rampant with fear and greed. Not the best vibe for healthy fun.what the experts say"Working in casinos, I observed that they feed off negative emotions. You're a big shot if you bet big money. I got out because I was tired of watching people hurt themselves. If you gamble you have to be in total control. Know how much money you're going to invest and recognize that you're paying for entertainment - do it for the process, not the winnings. There's tons of enjoyment. A coach, though, would not encourage casino gambling, because it relieves the person of responsibility. Why don't you take that same $100 and invest it in your business or marriage, where you have some control?"
BILL DUEEASE, former coach, president of the Coach Connection"Low-income people tend to be more susceptible to appeals to a better life through some kind of quick fix. Lottery companies know that and market lotteries as selling hope. The lotteries insidiously appear (to offer) relief, but the chances of winning are infinitesimally small. Governments take money from low-income people and invest it in ways that often give more benefit to people less likely to buy tickets because their incomes are higher. It's a form of voluntary taxation."
BERND BALDUS, PhD, professor, department of sociology, specialist in social inequality and social theory, University of Toronto
"Gambling is exciting, and enjoying yourself is psychologically healthy. But watch out for addiction. The first sign of trouble is thinking you can actually win. Chasing is another sign, when you're gambling to win back money you lost. The prevalence of gambling problems is about 2 per cent. Before casinos, it was around 1 per cent. Unhappiness, stress and depression predispose you to gambling problems. Some people may be physiologically vulnerable - like people with ADD, who are easily bored, impulsive, restless, have trouble focusing and paying attention. If people don't understand that there's a risk attached to gambling, they're also more vulnerable to developing problems."
NIGEL TURNER, PhD, research scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
"There's a distinct danger in any kind of gaming for people with difficulties or people who are poor and don't see a way out. In our archdiocese sometimes we fundraise for a good cause, and a limited amount of this type of activity is allowed. We have a limitation on the size of prizes. The activity cannot be something that would place vulnerable people at risk. It cannot be advertised to the public. If prizes were large, people might get addicted and hock their income or family security, and this is an evil thing. A particular parish can raffle off a quilt the ladies made, but it's done under controlled, reasonable circumstances in a way that is supportive to the community and the people involved."
SUZANNE SCORSONE, director of communications, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto
"We view gambling as a hobby or interest. It's a losing game - I think most people realize that if they look at it objectively. One of the reasons people do financial planning is so they can work hobbies into their lives. We put gambling in discretionary lifestyle expenses. It's hard to come up with a formula, but certainly you shouldn't be allocating more than 10 or 20 per cent of what you make toward discretionary expenses."
PAUL MANCUSO, chartered financial analyst, certified management accountant