Why You Shouldn’t Be Gambling Away Your Chance at Financial Freedom

Why You Shouldn’t Be Gambling Away Your Chance at Financial Freedom

Last updated on March 21st, 2019 at 01:50 pm.

Sure, I’ve been to Vegas. And I’m not about to suggest that you say no if your friends invite you on a trip there for a few days. We all need to have some fun every now and then, right? Why not have fun by doing some gambling!?

I’ve written before about how financial independence can really enrich your life. Why sidetrack those goals by feeding a slot machine? And If plain-old financial independence doesn’t tickle your financial, there’s always barista FIRE.

The biggest problem with gambling is that it can trigger a very strong addiction. So, if you know you have an addictive personality in general, I would highly recommend using caution if you do decide to gamble.

And this can mean playing the casinos in Vegas, a casino elsewhere, or the lottery, etc. There are many forms of gambling, but all of them can be dangerous…very dangerous.

There’s no business like show business

I’m sure I’m not the only one who tends to think of Vegas as being synonymous with gambling. And yet, there’s a whole lot more to do in Vegas than just mindlessly feeding the slot machines.

For example, I Googled “things to do in Vegas,” and the top result was from TripAdvisor. Well, guess what? Almost none of these numerous activities have anything to do with gambling, yet so many of them sound amazing.

From Cirque du Soleil, to theater, to helicopter tours, to the Grand Canyon, to…do I need to continue? I think you can see where this is going. The point is, there are so many shows and other really cool things to do in Vegas, and gambling is just a tiny piece of the bigger picture.

The house always wins

Most of us have heard this phrase before, and that’s because it is 100% true. After all, casinos couldn’t exist if they weren’t making money. And unless they’re running a drug cartel out of the back room or something, it’s safe to assume those casino games with their flashing lights, neon signs, and victory chimes are how they bring in the dough.

Indeed, casino games are always structured so that the house will always win (in the long run). That means that while it’s possible to win a bunch of money from a single game, every player will always be losing money if they play long enough.

So, why do people do it anyway? Generally speaking, it all comes back to that addiction I mentioned earlier. Of course, there can be varying severity to it – some people may want to “hit it big,” but have the ability to back out when they see things aren’t going their way.

Others have more trouble walking away, and, sadly, casino games prey on those people. Those people are the real money makers. Hopefully, you can avoid falling into that trap on your own, but if not, I have a few tips and observations that may help.

No, you can’t buy those chips with your card

One thing that may seem like an inconvenience to casino-goers is that no, you can’t buy casino chips with your credit card. In reality, it’s meant to protect the casinos – and it also protects players, albeit probably unintentionally.

It makes sense if you think about it. Not only would buying chips with your credit card make it very easy to gamble with money you don’t have, but it would also create a lot of situations where the casinos may never actually see the money they think they are making.

How not to “lose your shirt”

Okay, so if you do decide to gamble, there are a couple of basic principles that I think will really help you to not lose too much:

  • Firstly, stay within your budget. Ideally, you would keep a budget for yourself. I don’t have a post about that yet, though maybe I will update this one when I do. However, let’s say you have a set amount per month you allow yourself to spend on fun/entertainment. If you’re going to gamble, don’t allow yourself to spend more than that amount. I know you may be thinking it’s a “special occasion,” but don’t do it. It’s just not worth it!
  • Secondly, remember how the house always wins? Right, so if you find yourself ahead, I always recommend walking away. For instance, say you play 3 games that cost $1 each, the first two are a total loss, but on the third one you win $20, I would walk away at that point. Sure, it may have only taken you a few minutes to win that $20, and it may not seem like a lot of money, but I always recommend standing up if you are ahead. Remember, you will always lose if you play long enough.

All in all, remember that when done the right way, a Vegas trip can be a lot of fun. Don’t let that trip be spoiled because you “thought” you were going to make a ton of money, and instead you leave a whole lot poorer. There’s more to Vegas than gambling, but if you must feed the slot machines, or toss the dice, just be sure you proceed with caution.

Bob Haegele

Hey there. My name is Bob and I blog about personal finance here at The Frugal Fellow. In particular, I focus on topics related to student loans, investing, credit cards, and sometimes sustainability. Interested in starting a blog? Find out how to become a blogger!

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