I must admit that as I wandered through casino after casino in Vegas this past weekend, I couldn’t help but feel a little saddened. After all, I’m an accountant who tries to help others like you to learn a bit more on how to become wealthy and prosperous through sound personal financial principles – and here these people sitting at the poker table were throwing all of that knowledge away. In a country where the average consumer carries a credit card balance of over $8,000 I couldn’t help but wonder what those same people were doing in Vegas – throwing even more money away.
Before I continue you should probably know that I don’t gamble. I’ve never even been tempted to gamble – probably for the same reason that I purchase insurance and hate credit card balances… I hate throwing money away. There might be something to say to gambling’s adrenaline rush or the “fun” a player has at the table with friends – but losing a few hundred dollars has never seemed very much fun to me, and I can get that same adrenaline rush from riding a roller coaster. It’s important to note, however, that my reasons for not gambling have nothing to do with risk, per se. Risk is an essential part of life, and an important part of personal finance. After all, what is a company pension other than a bet that the company will still be around when you retire to pay it out to you?
So I guess what I’m trying to say is: why do you gamble?
Personally, I don’t understand it. As I said before, gambling just doesn’t make financial sense to me – given the other options of making money at far less risk. At first I thought that those people throwing away money must just be less educated – but a recent survey showed that 55% of gamblers have had at least some college – with 27% with a bachelors degree. I was also shocked to find out that 44% of gamblers are white-collar workers. It appears as though gambling effects the same demographics as alchoholism and drug addiction – everyone. It spans all age groups, all geographic locations, etc. Which only strengthens my resolve to answer the question; why gamble?
Now, the rest of my Vegas trip was a blast – cheap meals and hotel rooms, and a great Cirque d’ Soleil performance – but I guess I have the gamblers to thank for that. Thier constant losing keeps the hotel prices down.
So how do you get rich in Vegas? My advice is: Don’t gamble. You’ll be richer than 95% of the folks who leave with you.