My observation forced me to think back to my childhood. I was brought up in an impoverished community. I grew up watching my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors engaging in lottery, bingo, casinos and other forms of gambling on a daily basis. It’s mind boggling as I think back and reflect on how much money was and continues to be spent trying to make a come-up gambling their money away. I’ve watched people sacrifice bill money hoping they’ll win so that they can recoup the bill money plus have some extra money to spend. I’ve watched people spend way too much money on dream books, lucky candles, and other merchandises as if these merchandises will give them some advantage. I’ve witness first hand close relatives spending $20.00 per day on the lottery (before they had mid-day lottery), $40.00 per day on bingo and roughly $150 every two months at casinos. That equals $375 per month spent on gambling each in every month for the past 30-years of my life. The sad reality is that over the 30-year period that I’ve watched and continue to watch my close relatives engage in the lottery, bingo, casinos and other forms of gambling—They are still POOR PEOPLE.
Mathematically and statically speaking gambling is a rip-off and is a tax on the poor. Consider the size of the various casinos and the lavish decoration. Who’s paying for it? Many churches today and other organizations profit dearly from proceeds from bingo. Who’s paying for it? I had a friend who owned a small convenience store. He told me that the lottery was his best marketing tool. It attracted a lot of traffic to the store. People spent massive amounts on the lottery and the traffic helped him moved other products off of the shelf. Research has shown that ZIP codes in the low-income parts of town spend four times more than anyone else. My own eyesight has witnessed that the majority of the people who fill the bingo halls, casinos and lottery lines are older people. Gambling of all forms is a tax on the poor. It’s interesting to note that 96 percent of those age 65 or older are BROKE.
Just think if my close relatives who individually spend roughly $375 per month on the lottery, bingo, casinos and other forms of gambling for the past 30 years had hid the money under a mattress today that monthly amount would equal $135,000. If they had invested the $375 each and every month in mutual funds earning an average rate of return of 10-percent for the past 30-years their money would have grown to $847,683. The irony is that if they had saved and/or invested the money each and every month instead of gambling it away for the past 30 years and counting, today they would no longer be poor people.
My wife and I at one time justified our casino and bingo activity as a form of entertainment. It turns out that we were losing money in the name of entertainment.
(Mortgage and Money Coach Damon is the owner of ACE Financial. He can be reached at 412-216-1013.)