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Winning at money games varies unless you've got a gambling problem

By Dian Vujovich

Lots of people consider investing in stocks on Wall Street the same as gambling— but it’s not. Sure investing requires taking a chance. A chance that comes with multiple outcomes from winning to losing but not often is every cent invested lost. In fact, those who do play the Wall Street stock game who do their research and play sensibly could find the odds of making money stacked in their favor. That said, the risk of equity investing is never zero.

Decide to take a chance on the lottery, however, and the odds of winning are miniscule and those of losing huge. The odds of getting all numbers in the Powerball, for instance, are roughly one in 195 million. Of course incredible odds like that didn’t stop me from spending a buck today and taking a chance on tonight’s drawing. The winner, if there is a lucky ticket holder, will rake in around $245 million.

Then there are casinos where everyone knows the odds are stacked against him or her as soon as they walk in to play. Nonetheless, the hope of winning big is every gambler’s dream whether they’ve gone to Vegas, Atlantic City or have taken a bus ride to one of Florida’s casinos.

No matter what the venue or the odds or risks involved are, there’s a rush to taking a chance. A high that’s stronger in the perceived anticipation of a possible win than it is after money actually has been won. A high so high it can turn ordinary people into gambling addicts.

Forgetting Wall Street, Florida loves gamblers and is considering allowing more mega resort casinos. While that’s not a bad thing, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) reports calls into its problem gambling hotline, HelpLine 888-ADMIT-IT, are up 18 percent this year. Over the past five years there has been a 57 percent increase in calls. That’s not a good thing.

Here’s some of what’s been gleaned from those calling the HelpLine:

•35% reported they resorted to committing illegal acts to finance their gambling.

•25% were unemployed and/or collecting state assistance—that’s up 12 percent over the past five years.

•16 percent of callers reported having suicidal ideation or having made attempts of suicide.

•Most gambling problems were related to slot machines (46 percent), cards (33 percent) and the lottery games (11 percent).

FCCG reports more than half a million citizens in Florida have serious to severe gambling problems. I’m hoping you’re not one of them because the cost to you, your family and friends is too enormous to count in dollars and cents alone.

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