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Money management: Is gambling a bad thing?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

At first glance, the title of this post seems like a rhetorical question.  After all, the Chinese people have a saying, which literally translated would say "Ten gamble, nine lose." 

Even though the odds are stacked against us, many are attracted by the excitement that gambling offers and the possibility of instant riches.

Personally, I don't have a very strong stand for or against gambling.  However, from the standpoint of money management, anything that might cripple our finances should be avoided. 

At face value, rationally, since the chances of losing money is much higher compared to making it, gambling should be avoided like the plague (or H1N1, in today's context).

A real life story which I remember to this day was a TV interview with Ng Man Tat, a Hong Kong actor.  Before that interview, Ng was churning out movie after movie with Stephen Chow Sing Chi, the Hong Kong king of comedy, for a few years.  It was during that interview that I understood why. 

Ng was addicted to gambling and lost a fortune.  He approached Chow Yun Fatt, a Hong Kong superstar who has gone international, a very good friend, and asked for a loan but was turned down.  Initially, Ng was very angry with Chow but later on he became grateful as he worked hard to pay off his debts. 

Ng said that if Chow had helped him to pay off his debts, he would never learn and be rid of his addiction to gambling.

Many, if not all, of us must have a story or two to tell about the misfortune that gambling has brought to people we know directly or indirectly. 

However, we have also heard stories of people getting really rich through gambling, haven't we?  I remember reading in the papers how, over the years, in some months, the Singapore Sweep's top prize (which is S$2.2m today) was won by foreign workers who went back to their home country, bought land, became landlords, got married and lived happily ever after. 

OK, the last bit is just my imagination.

So, what am I trying to say? 

Well, I don't think gambling is totally bad.  It is not one of those things which is clear cut like a hit and run (which is what Dr Silviu Ionescu, the Romanian diplomat, is suspected of doing here in Singapore), rape, robbery or murder.  These are just plain evil. 

Gambling is more of a grey area.

From a money management standpoint once more, if we budget a small sum of money for entertainment and classify gambling as one form of entertainment, as long as we stay within what is budgeted, gambling would not become financially crippling and it might even be rewarding. 

The Chinese people have a saying, "mai ge xi wang", or "buying a hope".  This, I feel, is not a bad thing. 

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you could probably tell that I'm a pragmatist, not an idealist.  Everyone has his or her own beliefs and values.  Gambling is one of those issues that will always attract strong opinions.  That is why I thought about it for a long time before deciding to blog about it. 

I hope I won't be flamed for my ideas. -.-"

Interesting article:


Patrick T. said...

Optimist thought - For each trade, you pay at least $25 to your broker at the entrance and one more time when you exit, irregardless of whether you won or lost in the market.

Add $2 more and $52 is enough to buy a whole year's worth of "xi wang". :D

AK71 said...

Hi Patty,

Your calculation is faultless. ;p

We should do two less trades each year and buy $1 worth of 4D on a weekly basis, you reckon?

AK71 said...

Yeah Lee Ching recalls when a lady walked into her pawnshop in Singapore and pledged a US$10,000 ($12,525) diamond-studded gold Rolex watch to bankroll casino spending. She never came back for her jewelry.

Pawnbrokers are proliferating across Singapore as gamblers seeking short-term loans add to demand for quick cash from people struggling to make ends meet in the world’s most expensive city. The number of pawnshops in the city-state surged to 214 this year from 114 in 2008, according to a report by DMG & Partners Securities Pte. Loans disbursed by the industry jumped to $5.5 billion in 2013 from $1.6 billion in 2007, government data show.

“Pawnshops are the most-frequent automated teller machines for regular gamblers,” Ivan Ho, president of Singapore Pawnbrokers’ Association, said in an interview this month. “They need capital and pawnshops offer them loans that are reasonably priced.”

Since Singapore’s two casinos opened in 2010, about 20% of the increase in pawnbroking activity is driven by clients raising money for gambling, said Ho, who’s also the owner of Heng Seng Pawnshop Co.

Bloomberg, 18 June 2014.

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