Gambling is an activity that is supposed to be fun and where you can sometimes get a big win. Slots are perfect for that as they offer a chance to get lucky and hit a major win or even a progressive jackpot.

Problems arise when you start thinking of gambling as a way to make money.

In other words, if you’re taking your 1,000 dollars with an intent to turn it into 1,500 then you’re in danger, especially if you really need the money for something.

Likewise, if you lose 1,000 and you have an intent to win it back by depositing 2,000 or more, then you’re in an even greater danger.
These two things, an intent to win money, and an intent to win it back, are what produces gambling addicts and what sometimes leads to huge losses, awful changes in standard, and in some select cases even suicide. People who keep digging themselves a larger and larger hole by depositing and losing more money are on a one-way road to ruin.

Usually shame or responsibility towards family members is what drives people to want to win the money back, in order to correct the mistake.
One correct way to think of lost money is to treat it as spilled milk, water under the bridge, something that can’t be taken back. If you lost, even if it’s a mind-boggling sum, the money is lost.

You can win some new money but you can never aim to win back the money you lost and you can never aim to break even. If you lost big, tomorrow is a new day and it starts from zero. If you never play again, from that day onwards you’re at zero.

The only way out is to stop.

And there is nothing painful about abandoning a bad and unproductive behaviour and accepting a good and productive behaviour. If gambling is causing you to lose money, and a small side gig can get you some money every month – well then you should be happy you’re making the switch. You should be elated! Seriously.

If you want out, first identify what is it in your case that drives you to gamble. In many cases it’s a desire to win some money that you don’t have, or to win back the money you lost.

If you know what drives you to gamble, you can address it and substitute it with something else.

For example, if you’re gambling as a way to get more income because you know you don’t have enough money, then first of all you’re in grave danger of not even being able to maintain your current standard as gambling is a losing activity. You’re more likely to lose money in any given month than to win money. If you’re chasing losses and if your head isn’t straight after a loss, then you’re in danger.

If money is the motive, then substitute it with an activity that brings you money. You can’t count on gambling to get you even 100 dollars per month. It’s impossible to use gambling – even sports betting – for this. But what you can do is get a side job or a side gig that pays 100 per month FOR SURE. You do the work, you get paid. That’s 1,200 dollars per year and it’s a certainty.

Compare this to the uncertainty of gambling and tell us if you can make 1,200 dollars from gambling next year because you want to.

No, you can’t. No one can.

If you’re in dire straits, in financial trouble, with debt that’s hurting more than anything, the one thing that makes sense and that can steer the ship right is to abandon the bad habits that got you there and immediately start doing things right.

No matter what kind of a bad situation you’re in, things can only start improving if you change the behaviour. In other words, continuing to gamble won’t accomplish anything. The hole will get deeper. What can and will accomplish something is absolute financial discipline.

And that means no penny is wasted on gambling.

Find a job, side job, gig, whatever, that pays a certain amount per month. Even if it’s 100 dollars, it’s 100 dollars monthly more in your cash flow. Cash flow influences the tide of your finances in a positive way.

Stop bleeding money to gambling and start building the finances one dollar at a time.

If you have family members and friends who are willing to help you, you could tell them of your situation and ask if they would be willing to give you some money on a monthly basis for a year, until you dig yourself out of the hole. Say, your parents could give you 50 dollars a month as long as you don’t gamble.

Now that’s a way to win 50 by not gambling, isn’t it?

It sure beats trying to win 50 by gambling and then losing 500 in the process.

Here are the steps to get yourself out of the hole.

  • Look back and assess what did gambling do for you so far. Is it a profitable activity? Has it been a profitable one for you? Assess how much did you lose – this is the truth about gambling. Your hopes of winning it back are illusions, and the proof of how gambling really works is that number that says how much you’ve lost.
  • How would your life look like if you lost that amount again? In your current situation, if you lose that amount again, what happens?
  • Promise yourself you’ll never lose another cent on gambling ever again. Swear on whatever is dearest to you. If you betray this oath, you are lost.
  • Abandon any thoughts of gambling being a way to make money. Some people do win money, but not one of them can count on it. A lot of them will eventually lose it, too.
  • Assess your current financial situation. The money you have, the money you owe, the assets you have. The monthly positive cash flow, the monthly expenses. See if the cash flow / expense ratio is positive or negative.
  • Add more money to your monthly cash flow. By any means necessary. Find a job, side job, side gig. Whatever gets you money consistently on a monthly basis. Communicate, get yourself out there, talk to people, sell yourself, find something that pays.
  • Maintain financial discipline. Finances are all about making more money than you spend in a month, and then using the sheer number of months that are ahead of you to build something good with that rising tide.
  • Focus on something that’s not money. Bad financial decisions come from obsessing over money. Good lives aren’t tortured by money. Don’t spend all day thinking about it.

The second when your monthly finances become positive again you’ll feel relieved. Because this is a way to live a productive life and to build something that can get you one step higher on the ladder some day.

Gambling is unpredictable. The 2023 campaign by NBA and NHL that aimed to educate a mainstream audience that just got exposed to sports betting was titled Never Know What’s Next. The ad said there’s no sure thing, no sure bet, and you can never expect to win money. The whole thing’s unpredictable. The key thing to note here is that very clever people who obviously know what betting is all about decided to target that one single thing – the expectation that an outcome is certain and that the win is therefore certain – as the root of all evils.

A gambler we know had a large bet on an NFL running back to rush for a certain number of yards in a game. During the game, the RB reached the milestone. It was a masterful, beautiful run in the fourth quarter that got him just barely over the totals. In the last play of the game, for no reason whatsoever as the QB could have kneeled, the play caller decided to rush, the ball ended with our RB, he was stuffed for minus yardage. His totals went under – a yard short – and the bet was lost.

Any attempt to try to tame and harness lady luck will fail. Roulette players lose their minds trying to make sense of what is actually a completely, utterly, unpredictable event in which there are no streaks that mean anything to the next spin. Sports bettors curse their luck as in the above example, and go back to study more stats to make a better bet next time.

But in reality, it’s randomness. Things happen when they happen. Sports teams don’t care about your bet. Roulette wheel doesn’t care about your bet on Black. Mega Moolah doesn’t care that you haven’t won for 200 spins and that you think a win is due with your last coin.

So, to conclude, the main thing that lead to problems regarding gambling are false expectations.

First of all, the expectation that gambling can be tamed, and that you’re competent and experienced enough to know how to make money on gambling.

Second of all, the intent to win money or to win back the money. This intent is the final nail in the coffin of your gambling addiction.

People who don’t expect to win and who don’t have an intent to win can have fun with gambling. If that’s not you, it’s better to stop.

Money is not the most important thing nor the only measure of success, either. Making a few dollars more isn’t the only way to improve a human life. So chasing money 24/7, which is what problem gamblers are notorious for doing, isn’t actually the best thing you can do.

Reading a good book that improves your abilities is more productive, even if you do it for free and haven’t made any money, and wasted time you could have spent on making some money. What a waste of a day.

Even if you’re in major debt, even if your electricity is about to get shut down, perhaps the best thing to do is take a step back, read a book, as opposed to being so obsessed with the damn money all the time. Over time, focus on money erodes you. Especially if you always have too little.

In personal finance, it’s absolutely imperative to not reach the depths of financial ruin, where you can’t climb back anymore. The threshold is very low but also much more attainable than you might think. People who get there, get there rapidly.

The so-called bottom looks like this: you are homeless and therefore don’t have a place to stay. When you’re homeless, you can’t do anything right anymore. Your sleep schedule is ruined, you’ll walk around like a zombie because of it, you can’t bathe and therefore can’t get a job even if you want to. Homeless people can’t really get back up.

If you don’t have a mobile phone anymore you likely won’t be able to make money to buy one – because you needed the phone to communicate. You lose the ability to communicate on distance so all that’s left are people physically right next to you. Same thing if you lose a car. Suddenly your city just got a whole lot bigger.

Family and friends are more than just people that coexist in your life and that you see often. They’re the anchors of sanity. People who lose their family and their friends are suddenly left all alone, and only have access to their own life. People who lose their family and friends because of their own bad behaviour will inevitably feel guilt and remorse. That is indeed the very bottom.

You obviously haven’t reached the bottom if you’re reading this, because this article is online, so you have an Internet connection and a device to use it on. And, if you haven’t reached the bottom, stop trying to reach it. Chasing losses is a way to end up in that world where you can’t get back up anymore.