Why I Gamble


I love to gamble. In a different world, I’d have a gambling problem. Maybe I have one already: fortunately, it’s not one I can afford to water.

I do, however, get scratch tickets. I love scratch tickets. It’s like scratching a mosquito bite: not a good idea, I suppose, but oh so satisfying in the moment.

For those of you who don’t gamble, who look down on it, who call it a tax on the stupid: okay, you’re right. But this is a billion dollar industry, a perpetual habit of humanity that has survived every attempt of logic or morals to cripple it.

So maybe I can shed some light.


The first part is destiny.

Not the fact of it, of course, but the need for it. Ambition is prized and lauded. But the path through it is murky at best for non-programmers. What am I supposed to do with words and language? How am I supposed to succeed here?

I’m not. But I might win the lottery.

No, not really. But when you want something, a part of you hopes to manifest it through wanting it. People believe what they want to believe and the scratch tickets themselves, dancing with colors and numbers, encourage you to follow your delusions. Well, maybe this time it’s mine; it’s only $2; if I win, shit, that would be insane

It seems like low risk and high reward when you put it down that way. Your emotional narrative supersedes bland, gray numbers. You want to play and to win and, dangling behind the counter, it’s the ultimate impulse buy. Hell, it’s an impulse investment.

You might as well, right?

Second, there’s an emotional misunderstanding of math at work there as well. It’s not logical, but neither is humanity so cut me some slack. A part of me works on a binary; either I win the lottery or I don’t. To my mind, that sounds like a 50/50 shot. It isn’t, of course, but it feels like it. And, with no clear path and deep, burning want, it feels good to have some hope in your pocket.

I lose, of course. But where else was that two dollars supposed to go to? A craft beer? An investment? Am I a stock-buyer? No. Of course not.

I’m an underemployed writer. I have no future: I only have the present. And, in the here and now, every scratch ticket beckons stronger than it should.

Third, and most importantly, it’s fun and exciting in the way that every vice has ever been.

The scorn for gambling seems outsized and unfair when you consider, for a moment, how rarely we use logic in our day to day. Is it logical or good to drink the way we do? To smoke, or even smoke weed as often we do? To eat what we do? To spend how we spend? Of course not. Indulgences are human in every regard. Vices are vices for a reason: they survive logic and what we “should” do. Gambling is fun, exciting, addictive and as harmful as any vice there is. But, like any vice, it’s capable of surviving logic and math.

It’s not great that I gamble, but it is. There’s a gap between fact and theory.