(Casinos are also designed like slaughterhouses. One casino in Vegas even had a conveyor belt to haul people off the strip and deep into the bowels of the casino, like cows to the butcher. Once inside, you are assaulted with a cacophony of noise and lights and cannot even begin to think straight. Start drinking, and well, you're done for. Trying to get out of a casino is never easy, which is why fires, such as the MGM Grand, can be so fatal. Exits are not clearly marked, as they do not want to encourage people to leave.)
Sporting events, such as football games, horse and dog racing, boxing matches, and the like are other areas where the law of probability might be trumped by experience or knowledge. Some racing fanatics claim they can study the racing form and figure out who will win a given race, based on the history of the horses, track condition or the like. The problem with sports betting is that a lot of other people have the same knowledge, and as a result, the odds are always set by what people smarter than you are thinking.
- You get free drinks, meals, and even hotel rooms in Casinos: As the old saying goes, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch." Any "free" comp'ed drink, meal, or room is more than paid for by your gambling losses. If you add up what you've spent at the slots or the tables, you've paid for those "free" items many times over.
- Gambling can be an inexpensive, affordable vacation: One friend of mine plays the nickel slots, on the basis that it is a cheap way to gamble. It is a slow way to go about wasting $20, to be sure. But over time, you are $20 poorer, and have wasted an hour or more in a dimly-lit, smoke-filled room.
- Gambling losses are tax deductible: Yes, and winnings are taxable. However, don't count on having too many winnings. As I noted in other articles, never confuse a tax deduction with making money. You cannot deduct your way to wealth and prosperity. It would be better not to have gambling losses at all, than to have a deduction.
- Professional Gamblers can make a living at it: The myth of the professional gambler is far overstated - very few exist. While it is theoretically possible to make a living at gambling, it is not possible to do so with purely probabilistic games (e.g., slots). And guess what? You'll never be a "professional gambler," so what's your point?
- Gambling can be fun, exciting and enjoyable: This is, of course, a subjective argument. I found Vegas to be depressing, dirty, and full of runaways and hookers (often the same people). It was exploitation of the human condition on an industrial scale. The buildings were gaudy, tacky, and cheaply built. Fun? If you like spending hours in noisy, smoke-filled rooms wasting your estate away, then perhaps so.
- Poker can be a fun way to while away the time: Marathon poker sessions in a smoke-filled room are the stuff of novels and movies. In reality, spending hours sitting in a chair, drinking and smoking is about the worse thing for your physical health. While Brad Pitt may play a poker player in the movies, the reality of the hard-core player is not the washboard abs and muscular physique. Poker is the ultimate sedentary lifestyle game.
- Don't fall for the myth of gambling as romantic or classy: If someone tries to hawk gambling to you as "fun" and "exciting", tell them the real truth. If people stop believing the myth, they may be less inclined to get sucked into gambling. Avoid people who talk up gambling, or at least let them know in no uncertain terms you are against it. I let my friends know that I think gambling is for fools. If they are offended, too bad. But perhaps it may, over time, sink in. Set an example as a role model.
- Just don't go: If a friend recommends a Casino vacation, Casino cruise, or a trip to a local Casino, find some excuse not to go. Once you are aboard a Casino cruise, for example, you are basically trapped on board, with no place to go. Most of such ships have no other actives to pass the time - not even a means of going outside and enjoying the ocean! Many are nearly windowless. Casinos themselves are windowless mazes of darkened rooms with flashing lights and noise, designed to trigger base emotions in your brain. You cannot fight back in such stacked scenarios, so just don't go into the trap.
- Limit your spending: This can be as difficult as advising an alcoholic to limit their drinking. Casinos all have ATM machines now, and even banking facilities to allow "gamers" to access their savings while at a Casino. I went into a Casino once, saying I would spend $20 on the slots and see what it was all about. $50 later, I finally realized that the whole setup was designed to make me want to gamble. If you do go, take only some cash you want to spend, and leave your credit cards and ATM cards behind. If you are not tempted to spend it, you might not.