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A Word to the Wise

21 August 2011

If you are reading this you most likely have a keen interest in casino gambling. The casino is an exciting place. The sights and sounds are designed to excite the patrons' senses. I personally enjoy the casino experience -- the games, the restaurants, the entertainment and just the people watching.

I have studied casino operations and the different games for many years. I only play games that I have determined I have a chance of beating. But even with all the knowledge I have, I understand that the odds are stacked against me. Even the best "advantage players" could lose their entire bankroll on any given day. Just ask experienced card counters in blackjack. They will tell you of times that they had the mathematical advantage, but they lost hand after hand. Randomness and variance are always a part of the winning and losing equation.

Despite all the fun casinos offer, danger lurks below the surface. People can forget that chips represent real money and the credit card advances and markers have to be paid back.

Every person that enters the casino has the responsibility to play sensibly. No one should be using a bankroll that includes money for the rent or mortgage payment. If your ability to pay bills or provide for your family is dependent on the turn of a card or the roll of the dice, you do not belong in a casino.

A study by the State of California determined that welfare recipients were using their electronic benefit cards to withdraw money in the casino ATM. If a person is on the government dole, they should be spending their time looking for a job, not cruising the slot machine lanes. Welfare money is not casino money.

A casino player's bankroll should come from the portion of the family budget that is designated for entertainment.

I know plenty of people that have let casinos ruin their lives. People have lost their children's college funds or have become destitute in pursuit of their gambling addiction.

I recently was speaking with an old friend I had not seen in years. I asked how his parents were. I knew his father had retired some years back after a successful Wall Street career. I was shocked to hear that in his 70s he was working in a greeter type position in a big box store. It turns out that after he retired, he and his wife had blown a lifetime of savings in Atlantic City.

Another senior couple I know lived on a decent pension but it was not enough to fund their gambling trips. They took several mortgages against the equity in their home. When that ran out they began taking cash advances from their credit cards. They would then make minimum payments and request additional cards from other banks. These cards soon became maxed out.

They were unable to pay, so the banks closed their credit line. They then decided to apply for cards in the names of relatives; they justified this by telling themselves that they would make everything right when they made a big score. Well, naturally their scheme fell apart. They lost their home and had to declare bankruptcy.

The family members did not want to make a formal complaint about the credit card shenanigans, so they are on the hook for the cards. Believe it or not, the two of them still go to A.C. to gamble. The draw of the games is too much for them to resist.

The news will periodically report on a mild-mannered man or woman, in a position of trust, that has quietly embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from their employers to fund an out-of-control gambling habit.

Of course, these are examples of people that had true gambling addiction. Most of us are able to recognize that there are clear limits to what we are willing to risk in a casino.

A casino visit or vacation is harmless entertainment if you are a responsible person. Just think; if you went on a vacation to Disney World, you will spend hundreds of dollars on airfare and park admission. A stay at the upper-tier Disney hotels will cost several hundred dollars per night. Dining in the park is as expensive as eating in a NYC restaurant. At the end of the trip, you will find you spent a small fortune.

Contrast that with a vacation to Las Vegas. Airfare is reasonable, especially if you purchase a package with a hotel. You may even qualify for a comped hotel room or suite. There are plenty of free or low cost entertainment options and food is reasonable. If your play qualifies, you may get all or a portion of restaurant charges removed from your bill when you speak to a casino host.

The biggest difference between Disney and Las Vegas is this: At the end of your stay you may find that you were fortunate at the tables and you may leave with more money then you arrived with. This will certainly not happen in the world of Disney.

A casino player's bankroll should be the last budget item funded. Before designating money for gambling, all bills should be paid, the retirement account should receive its regular investment, the kids' college fund should be growing, a sizable emergency fund should be established and you better have health and life insurance.

The remaining money can then be designated for entertainment, which can include gambling. The founders of the Golden Touch Group like to call this a "401G." The 401 references the financial saving vehicle the "G" stands for gambling.

In certain cases, I recommend taking the "401G" to another level.

Sometimes in a marriage one spouse eschews casinos and does not have the temperament to deal with the ups and downs associated with gambling. In these situations, I recommend establishing what I like to call an "Off-Shore 401G." This is two separate funds that receive equal periodic funding. The money is never mingled.

One spouse can use one fund for his or her hobby, whether it is gambling, scrap booking or hot air ballooning; while the other spouse can use the other fund for whatever he or she enjoys. The most important element of the "Off-Shore 401 G" is the spouses agree to never ask or reveal the balance of their fund to the other.

It is strictly "fun money." If it is flush with cash, that is great. If it is depleted, too bad, that is the way it goes. The household funds cannot be used to replenish it. No money will go into it until the next scheduled periodic cash infusion.

I believe that this situation can avoid the domestic problems that result if one spouse feels that the other spouse is "wasting" money on his or her hobby or interests.

Scan
Scan works in a top-secret government agency and he is therefore not allowed to reveal his real name or show a picture of himself. We’ve used a clip-art drawing to indicate his nature. Needless to say, he is an extremely bright guy. He is an active member of the goldentouchcraps.com private members-only Web site where he posts his thoughts and gambling theories on a regular basis.
Scan
Scan works in a top-secret government agency and he is therefore not allowed to reveal his real name or show a picture of himself. We’ve used a clip-art drawing to indicate his nature. Needless to say, he is an extremely bright guy. He is an active member of the goldentouchcraps.com private members-only Web site where he posts his thoughts and gambling theories on a regular basis.