As a child my grandfather educated me in the ways of the track. His advice was clear, simple, and straight to the point “Don’t gamble, you won’t win”. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. He was a bookmaker. His wealth (or lack of it) depended on the highs and lows of a day at the track. It was either an exhilarating day of triumph and conquest or an anxiety pit driven by the hope of a win that would put things right. That said, as a bookmaker he usually came out on top.
I can’t help but wonder just what my grandfathers earnings (my future inheritance) represents. I wonder how many families suffered because of the addict that bet on great-odds with my grandfather? I wonder how many groceries weren’t bought, how many relationships dissolved, how many jobs were lost, how many drinks were drunk, and how many people took their lives because of the pain of searing loss? Whilst I have no control over this, I am a little more aware of what occurs in the world of the gambler. This is mostly because my grandfather who made a living from an industry that is set up to cost the consumer more than their money, used to say to me with complete conviction “Don’t gamble, you won’t win”.
If only he understood the wisdom of his counsel. When I think of the gambling industry in Australia, and especially the five hundred million dollars Aussies will spend at the track today, I wonder just what is it we are gambling? Study after study tells us that the effects of such an event are just not positive. Crime rates increase, alcohol related violence increases, sexual assault rates increase, drink driving charges increase, hospital and emergency admissions increase, and all for what? The opportunity for a day at the races and the possibility of making a quick buck? Again… the prophetic words of my grandfather ring in my ears “Don’t gamble, you won’t win”.
Whilst the juxtaposition of a bookmaker telling a child not to gamble is somewhat confusing, it does make a very bold statement.
“At his core, my grandfather knew the evils of the gambling industry well. He was taunted by them and yet at the same time strangely dependent upon them”.
He wanted his grandson to know better and to not live in the same struggle. He was an elder advising a student in the school of life and the more I think about it that little piece of advice I am convinced it is just as relevant to every sphere of society. To the individual, to the family, to the local community, to the state and the nation, “Don’t gamble, you won’t win”. The costs associated with this day and the gambling industry at large are big, probably far bigger than we care to admit.
Friends, we’ve heard it said that the counsel of the wise brings life, so please heed my grandfathers warning. He lived with the tension as one entrenched in a system that he knew was ultimately damaging. Families… please listen to his counsel… Communities, please understand the breadth of the impact… Australia, please consider the story we are writing and the huge cultural implications that ensue.
We call it the race that stops a nation. It is frightening just how true that is, on so many levels.