Gambling in a range of activities has a long history. Many readers may remember playing up “the wall” with pennies, tanners and later, pound coins.
Of course, for many years, betting was illegal and punters relied on bookies and “runners”, such as the milkman. In the last decade, gambling has become a significant element of “entertainment” for many people of all ages. It has evolved into a substantial financial business, including bookmaker shops, online betting sites, casinos and scratch cards. It has brought wealth to some. Whilst creating financial debt and emotional stress for others as they seek to beat the bookie or “chase their losses”.
Jackpot By Rob Davies
In an excellently researched, also challenging, powerfully written and emotionally engaging book. Jackpot: How Gambling Conquered Britain, Rob Davies looks at how gambling has become a daily addiction. Especially for young people and adults in Britain. Activities such as the National Lottery, scratch cards, fixed-odds betting, poker and horse racing are an occasional “flutter” for the vast majority.
The National Lottery in the late 1990s established gambling as a mainstream activity to “win a fortune”. This had very little regard for the odds of losing. The concept of betting as a leisure activity and also having a “punt”, as envisaged by a range of “lotteries” or a “bit of fun” by Tony Blair’s government (Gambling Act 2005), has evolved into a significant financial business with little concern for the social and emotional consequences.
The author analyses how gambling has become a mainstream leisure activity in the last two decades. He discusses how the betting industry has created an increasingly lucrative market. Examples include sponsoring games, logos on shirts, advertising at breaks in televised games, and also using influential stars to promote the buzz.
He points out that the key aim is to “part punters from their money”. Glamourising gambling and offering incentives like free bets to encourage punters to keep spending. The development of offshore betting, fixed odds machines, online poker, betting exchanges, also financial trading has contributed with little regard for the risk. As Rob Davies highlights, betting on the game has become more important than the game itself for some people.
A Gambling Addiction
Evidence shows that an increasing number of occasional punters, as high as three per cent of adults, bet more than they can afford. The impact of chasing losses and loss aversion promotes vulnerability which ends in gambling addiction. This addiction evolves as the punter feeds money into the system, hoping a big win is just around the corner.
A vital feature of the book is how the author analyses how the gambling industry exploits key elements of human behaviour. Which is done by encouraging us to act in ways that we might not without the “push”. He points out how punters incorrectly think their betting choice has its basis in facts and not merely chance.
With excellent use of research material and interviews, Rob Davies enables the reader to gain considerable insight into the nature of gambling-related “harm”, such as financial, relational, employment, social behaviour and also the impact on psychological and physical health. The author’s open and frank discussion and harrowing “horror stories” may well shock the reader. These stories raise awareness of the devastating effect of gambling addiction on people’s lives. The chapter “Addiction, Affected Others’ and Suicide” highlights how gambling addiction is no respecter of wealth or status.
Real Life Stories
This section illustrates how people with the world at their feet lose direction and have their future taken away. Ponder the life stories related to Jack Ritchie, Adrian Howard, Phil Worral, Ben Jones, Julie Martin and also others. They may highlight issues of secrecy, temper tantrums and theft displayed by growing numbers of gambling addicts. Even experienced by readers as they affect family, friends and work colleagues.
Within a frank yet alarming overview of “The Safety Net Failures in Regulation and Treatment”. Rob Davies highlights critical issues, including the support and treatment for problem gamblers. Many readers may well consider that the current structure to address the health implications of gambling disorder is inadequate. Despite glimmers of light regarding improvement.
He emphasises the need for bookmakers to reassess advertising strategies to entice punters, the problems caused by excessive losses and research into mental health issues and suicides caused by gambling debts. The author pulls no punches. He examines the role of politics within the gambling industry, the wealth of betting royalty as they become millionaires, and also how the industry influences the agenda of whether a levy on gambling, online operators and casinos can help to alleviate the consequences of gambling addiction.
Raise Awareness of an Increasing Problem
This book is an outstanding, informative, challenging and also, at times, a mind-blowing read. With technology making betting easy and more accessible, young people and adults succumb to having a punt without realising the impact of chasing losses.
As Rob Davies emphasises, “Now is the time to be vigilant for the young and the vulnerable”. This book should be on the shelves of all personnel and pastoral managers at colleges and businesses to raise awareness of an increasing problem.
If you found this book review interesting, you might also want to check out all our other book reviews here.