Gambling Issues?

A lot of the early retirement and financial independence blogs I’ve come across talk about the foolishness of people who play the lottery.
I hold my hand up and admit that I am one of those fools!

It could be me!

However, I am not relying on a big win to fund my retirement (like some fools), I don’t think that the only way to improve my life is a big win (like other fools) and I am not addicted to gambling (although some may argue that I am).

A big win would certainly change my life, so why not take my chances and buy a ticket? What would I do if I won? I’d give away a lot of it to my family and friends (subject to tax limitations) and I’d invest most of it, probably in property. See, I have a plan – no buying fast cars or racehorses with my winnings!
I’ve been playing the UK lottery since 1994. I run two lottery syndicates: one at work and one with a group of friends. My total lottery spend each week is £3 – it used to be a lot higher and was probably at its highest when I had a lot of debts and I was stupidly hoping for a lottery win to pay it all off – yes, I used to be that kind of fool!
Horses

You’ll see from my post on my savings made in April that I include “£75 Grand National winnings/profit”. Every year, I gamble on this horse race – it’s a family tradition! Some years I win, other years, I lose. Sometimes I break even. In the past, I would have just spent the winnings but having turned into a new leaf, this time, the winnings went into my SIPP (Self Investing Personal Pension)!
Online Betting

I admit to having an online betting account (have had it for many years) and I also take part in various fantasy football leagues and football predictions as well as betting on football matches – ok, now it’s sounding like I do have a gambling problem…!

However, I don’t frequent casinos or play online casino games or bingo, and slot machines have never interested me. I have never borrowed money to gamble, although while I had all my credit card debts, you could argue that I was doing just that.

I see playing the lottery and betting on football as hobbies, I only place small wagers and if I lose, I don’t ‘try to win it all back’ by placing bigger and riskier bets.

However, I’ve yet to do a year long analysis of my spending and I guess that will truly tell me whether I have a problem/addiction or not…

But isn’t investing a bit like gambling?

In a way, a little. When you place bet on say a football team, you are gambling on a desired outcome, eg a win.  When you put money in funds or shares, you are also ‘gambling’ on a desired outcome, ie shares increasing, returns/dividends.   Generally, the higher the potential returns, the higher the risk of the investment, just as in betting, the higher the odds and potential returns, the less likely the event will occur.

The huge difference is that when you invest, you ‘own’ something, ie units/shares. When you place a bet, you own nothing. Also, money invested in funds/shares is for the long-term and you increase your chance of getting returns and increasing your original stake as time goes by.  Betting is short term, instant in many cases.

Perhaps I need to turn my like for ‘gambling’ more towards investing in something like shares…it’s just that the stakes are a lot higher and I’ll need to educate myself about buying shares.

World Cup

Anyway, back to my gambling, the World Cup kicks off on 12th June and I have been invited to join a predictions league and a sweepstake at work.

I joined the sweepstake (it was cheaper) and declined the predictions league, much to everyone’s surprise!

I have £7 remaining in my online betting account (actually, this balance is now £11 – I had a small winning bet on England to beat Peru 3-0 on Weds in the pre-tournament friendly!). I  have resolved not to deposit any more money when these funds run out, although I shall place one bet at the start of the next football season and I shall place my usual bet on the Grand National horse race next April.

That’s it – 2 deposits a year – I think I can cope with that and the lottery. I’ll see how long I can make that £11 last!

Anyway, for what it’s worth, come on England!

8 thoughts on “Gambling Issues?

  1. I'm always frightened by gambling because many people get so addicted to it. It's great that you've set yourself 2 deposits a year which is manageable. I can't blame you with doing the lottery, it only takes one win and you're set!

  2. Hi DBC
    Yes, true addiction is scary – I just need to curb my tendencies and not be tempted. This blog will hold me accountable! And yes, all it takes is one big lottery win!

  3. I don't see anything wrong with a little flutter. I think it becomes a problem once you start lying to yourself and your family about how much you gamble.

    Mr FF plays the lottery still. He made the mistake of playing the same numbers right from the beginning so won't let me stop now.

    As for the Grand National, I am always there in the bookies putting my each way bet on a horse I pick at random. I think I have won once (hedge hunter I think the horse was called) but that was a few years ago now. This year the 3 horses we had picked, all fell!

    As you say, picking shares is a bit like gambling. Pick the wrong one and you could lose all your money. Pick the right one, and you could double or even triple your money.

  4. Thanks Mrs FF, it's good to see I'm not the only one! Hedgehunter was one of my winners in the past! 🙂 This year, I backed the winner again and also the one that came 3rd (each way) – it's all pot luck, I have no skill or knowledge in choosing horses!

    As I mentioned in my post, I've yet to do a full analysis of my betting habits – should be an interesting exercise.

  5. You should onsider taking a look at risk free matched betting. It's a bit complex at first. Once you get to grips its a bit of a lightbulb moment – "why didn't I think of this before". There are plenty of guides online, including one at MSE

  6. I actually used to buy 2 lottery tickets every time I got gas in my car. At the time I was commuting a lot so I probably bought $4 of tickets every week.

    The only reason I was buying them at the time was because I was not happy with my job. Buying the tickets let me dream about escaping that place and that's all it really did for me. I never expected to win, I only did it so I could daydream a little. I knew that I could afford to lose every dollar that I spent but looking back I really should have just saved that extra money.

  7. Hi Zee
    If it was just about winning, then I would have probably stopped playing the lottery by now. My colleagues and I often talk about our dreams of what we would do with a big win – maybe the chatting about our dreams is a bit like a team-bonding exercise! If I find myself nowhere close to reaching my financial targets, then I will seriously have to think about stopping my lottery playing. But until then, it could be me! 🙂

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