Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gambling

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gambling

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Hutchinson

Of all the vices open to we mortals the one This Column has largely steered clear of is gambling.

A flutter on the Grand National, perhaps. A ticket in the office sweepstake. A raffle ticket for the weekly meat draw.

A quid on the Lottery, but only on Saturday unless it carries over.

Not exactly high-rolling stuff and the excuse is invariably that one can afford it. But can we really?

This last few days has seen the blueprint that could change the whole aspect of gambling in this country, with proposals that might include a casino in most towns and cities, super one-armed bandits offering millionaire jackpots - and, if opponents are to be believed, a huge increase in gambling addicts with the subsequent misery and poverty that it is likely to entail.

Far-fetched? Maybe. Unlikely to happen? Not so sure.

A cautionary tale from 30 years ago reminds us that addiction to the cards, the horses, the fruit machine or whatever is not something that only happens to other people. It can take over in the most ordinary circumstances.

In the early 1970s a group of us from the Evening Gazette got into the habit of playing a few hands of poker at the end of the day. Stakes were very modest initially, a few pence here and there.

The original group of half a dozen or so were soon joined by other colleagues.

Games got bigger in terms of those taking part and the amounts wagered. Sub groups developed with some playing for modest sums and the big boys laying out larger amounts. Things began to get out of hand. Large sums were involved ( often on an IOU basis.

On one occasion a chap received his weekly wages at 4pm on a Thursday ( cash in brown envelopes in those days. By half-past five, with debts paid off and a new game concluded, he had lost the lot. …

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