The phenomenon of gambling is as old as man himself. That is not without reason. We like to take a gamble. The moment we bet on something, we have a chance of winning something. In the casino this is very concrete; a cash prize, a trip for two people or maybe or a car. While casinos exist by the grace of the operator’s advantage, players keep coming. Why do we love gambling so much? A bit of philosophy of the gambler and a story of a player who loved gambling a little too much.
Gambling for the kick
Visiting the casino brings a lot of excitement to most people. After all, there is something to gain. The reason that (online) casino is so popular is perhaps mainly because we like to win in life. Then we are talking about winning in the broadest sense of the word. Profit in that case can be compared with prosperity, happiness. The (online) casino then becomes a metaphor for life. As long as you play, something can be won, and that gives a kick.
While there is nothing wrong with the pursuit of happiness, prosperity, and profit, some people do need to be careful not to freak out. There is a risk of addiction among a certain group of people. The moment a player no longer plays for pleasure, but out of compulsion, we can speak of addiction. Something has to be done about that.
Construction and circumstances
Gambling addiction is not that different from other addictions. The pathology is the same. A player wants to take another chance at all costs, drink a glass of wine, light a cigarette. Why one person is more likely to develop an addiction is difficult to say. The explanation is partly to be found in predisposition and partly in circumstances. Someone who is less stable in life is more likely to reach out for something to exert an apparent control.
The story of John de Veen
John van Veen was happily married and had two children. He lived in a village near Utrecht where the problem took root when his wife left him. He was confused and didn’t know what to do with himself. To distract himself from the feelings of confusion and sadness that come with a divorce, he turned to the casino.
“I used to take a gamble with friends at the Holland Casino. But that never worked out. It was a social affair and we combined it with, for example, a day out in the city or a bite to eat. I felt disoriented after my divorce. You have to imagine that I suddenly had a lot of time in my hands that I normally spent on my family. That went away at once.
One afternoon, mainly out of boredom, I decided to take a chance online. That turned out to be a whole day and a night of gambling. In no time I was just sitting at my computer staring at my screen. I felt good about that at first. I was distracted from what I didn’t want to feel. So much sadness. At some point, my friends started calling me. I tried to avoid contact with the outside world as much as possible. I am isolated. That doesn’t suit me.
I am normally a social animal. I like to be among people. I have to say that ultimately saved me. After a few weeks, my friends became suspicious. Simon, a buddy of mine, decided to stop by. He knocked on the door. I remember waiting in silence for him to leave. But he persisted and started calling my name. I decided to open the door if it was still there after five minutes. It was.
I let him in. Simon said afterward that he was shocked by what he found. My house was a pigsty. I hadn’t cleaned up or washed the dishes in weeks. So the whole house smelled of the garbage bag that was now decomposing. Simon sat down next to me on the couch to which I was now rusted in my stained sweatpants. “What are you doing boy?” he said. He said it in such a way that something broke in me. He said it lovingly. I didn’t have to explain anything further. I started to cry.
Fortunately, I was there in time. I have to say that. You hear stories of people who have been addicted for many years and then get themselves into trouble in every possible way. It never got that far for me and I certainly owe that to my social network. I now realize how important it is to have friends who look out for you. We have to do it together in this life. I have become aware of that.
The process that followed had to do with awareness. In my case not only aware of my addiction but also of all kinds of feelings that I did not want to feel during the months that I was gone. I use the word ‘disappeared’ because it really felt that way to me. I wasn’t there anymore.
I’ve talked to someone and slowly but surely I’m getting things back in order. I am actually much happier since my addiction and my divorce. It took me a while to say that. But I have gained much more insight into my own behavior and now understand better why my marriage failed. It’s a grieving process to process that loss, but I’m on the right track.