Mr. Y left his home country over 10 years ago to seek a better life in Canada. He started out working as a general laborer, but eventually found a better job that he enjoyed. After working hard for several years, he was ready to settle down, so he got married and bought a house. To his old friends in his home country, he was living the ideal “North American dream.”
But his dream has turned into a nightmare. His house is facing foreclosure, and his wife has left him, taking their child with her. He is deeply in debt and has exhausted all of his credit cards.
“How did it happen?” Mr. Y asks. “I am not an addict – I only play games.”
It began with a vacation trip to Las Vegas. The vacation package was a great deal, and when he saw it advertised in the newspaper, he took advantage of it. He had always wanted to find out what Las Vegas was all about. “It was great,” he says. “I think I was immediately attracted to the glamour, excitement and energy in the casinos.”
In most Asian countries, gambling games have been around for a long time, and they are well accepted when played among friends and family or for social purposes. “My relatives play Mahjong at birthday parties, and we always play card games at the New Year – it was never a big deal,” says Mr. Y.
In Mr. Y’s case, gambling became a big deal when he came back from Las Vegas and started to visit the local casinos on a regular basis. He began with the slot machines, then moved on to blackjack and other table games. At first he won constantly. “After that, I thought to myself, ‘Why should I even bother with my job? I am good at this and I feel great when I am in the casino.'”
Mr. Y spent more and more time gambling, sometimes up to 10 hours in the casinos. For him, the casinos offered a familiar form of entertainment and an opportunity to win lots of money quickly. He also felt a sense of belonging there: the staff members were friendly, and the other gambling folks recognized him.
Not only did Mr. Y spend an increasing amount of time gambling, he also started to bet large amounts – hundreds of dollars per hand at blackjack, for example. But then he began to lose, and he felt he needed to play more to win back the money he had lost. His gambling became a vicious cycle – when he won, he wanted to win more, but when he lost he wanted to win back what he had lost. Regardless of winning or losing, he couldn’t stop gambling. When he ran out of cash, he turned to his line of credit, then to his credit cards. Now he is close to bankruptcy and about to lose his house.
Looking angry, frustrated and defeated, Mr. Y bitterly blames bad luck for the problems he has now.
Legalized gambling has become a common form of entertainment for many people in today’s society. However, the number of people who really understand how gambling games work, along with the related issues and the impacts of excessive gambling, remains alarmingly small. If you are gambling, or thinking of gambling, get yourself better informed about these games.