Tuesday, 6 December 2011

No safe level of gambling.

I bet you didn't expect that.

The 'no safe level' rubbish is now being applied to absolutely everything. No safe level of smoke so people burn candles and incense to avoid smelling tobacco smoke, no safe level of alcohol so all those hand-washes and cough medicines will have to go, no safe level of fat - and I can tell you I know someone who refuses anything cooked in olive oil because it's 'just fat', so forget all that Omega-3 health advice. It's fat. The drones won't eat it.

Now we have a silly cow insisting there is no safe level of gambling and that any gambling, at any level is inherently evil.

Betting can never be 'responsible'. So how can anyone possibly justify gambling lessons in schools? 

 Her argument is that if you teach kids about gambling, they will gamble. Funnily enough, I don't hear the same arguments coming from the MSM concerning sex education to small children. Her argument is also somewhat undermined by her own figures -

There are already an estimated 100,000 problem gamblers under the age of 18, including some 60,000 12 to 15-year-olds — a prevalence rate of 2 per cent, more than twice that for adults. 

 So if there are twice as many 'problem gamblers' among children as there are among adults now, when racing form and the football pools are not taught in schools, where did they come from?

Most likely from the same place those thousands of deaths due to passive this or that came from. Straight out of some qango's arse. Define 'problem gambler'? Someone who gambles when they can't afford it. Children with no income can't afford it so any kind of gambling for them - including the premium bond Auntie bought for them - is gambling they can't afford. That gives you a huge base of 'problem gamblers' to play with. Especially if you include games like marbles.

I don't gamble, in the 'place your bets' sense. Not for any moral reason, but because I'm no good at it. I worked out a long time ago that I never win any kind of bet so I don't do it. I was once in a works' lottery pool. We each put in a pound a week and shared out the winnings after a year. We each received less than the £52 it had cost us for the year. We would all have been better off putting a pound a week into a jar.

The lottery odds do not reflect the payouts anyway. The UK lottery gives you odds of about 57 to 1 of getting three numbers right. So you bet a pound, get three numbers and it pays you back £58? No. It pays £10. The odds of getting those numbers are 57 to 1 and if you succeed, the payout is at 9 to 1. If a bookie did that they'd be lynched.

That's the kind of thing that's proposed for teaching in schools. Not 'how to fill out a pools coupon' or 'how to beg for coins to feed the slot machine'. Probability theory. Mathematics. What is the probability of your pound coin winning you the jackpot before a falling piano lands on your head? On the whole, not very high.

Gambling is the next pleasure to be denied us. This terrible, terrible toll of gambling infants playing poker behind the bike sheds (well they aren't allowed to smoke there any more) will be spoken of most gravely by politicians who will then rush off to check their stock market investments and rend their garments when they find they gambled on the wrong company.

They don't see it as gambling. They call it 'investing'. It's not like Joe Scroggs putting a tenner on a horse on Saturday, and if the horse doesn't perform his tenner is lost. This is serious money on serious shares and it is, in no uncertain terms, gambling. Big time gambling. Some of them do it with millions at a time and if the company they bet on doesn't perform then they can lose millions at a stroke.

'No safe level of gambling' means shutting down the stock markets and no investment in any company ever. It's all gambling. Even when they try to fix the odds by promoting windmills and shoring up currencies, they are still gambling.

If I take on a job I gamble that the company will pay. They usually do but there have been some that didn't. That's why, if a new company wants work, I'll run a short and cheap experiment first. It lets them know how efficient I am and it lets me know how their accounts department treats smaller businesses.

There is no way to take the gamble out of that. If the company pays up front, I'm not gambling, but they are. They're gambling that I won't just bugger off with the money and end up drunk in a gutter somewhere. One of other of us has to take a chance and in real life, it's always the smaller business that gambles.

We have to weigh up probabilities all day, every day. If you have an extra cup of tea in the morning, what are the chances you'll be bursting for the toilet on the way to work and how likely is it that the train toilet will be working, if it even has one? Do you leave for the bus now, and risk longer waiting in the cold, or do you leave later and risk missing it? How fast is that truck approaching and can you cross the road before it gets here?

It's not just the small stuff. Do you buy the big house in the posh area and hope your salary continues until retirement, or just buy the semi-detached in the tatty corner of town and build up a reserve in case of redundancy? If you're in the tatty corner and never made redundant you've missed out on the posh house but if you buy the posh house and lose your job, you're stuffed. Which will you take a chance on?

I would not be in favour of teaching children that gambling is a viable lifestyle but I'd certainly agree with making very clear to them that every decision in life is a gamble. I'd definitely agree with teaching them how to work out probabilities, and how to make decisions based on likely outcomes, because it would teach them something that has been fast disappearing from modern education.

It would teach them how to think for themselves.

Is that why there is so much protest against it, I wonder?


Anonymous said...

Got to thank you for the memories, the football pools man collecting on a Friday night or was it Thursday, probably. Spot the ball in the Manchester Evening News (great fun) Was it gambling? We never knew we had a problem.

Macheath said...

I can't see any government-backed teaching scheme suggesting the National Lottery is a mug's game.

I wonder who would be delivering the proposed content; it is designed not for maths lessons but for PSHE time, which is often handed to form tutors with little or no expertise in the relevant field - the alternative being to bring in outside staff at great expense.

The poor national standard of maths in our schools is, I believe, directly related to the widespread lack of expertise among primary teachers; will non-specialist secondary form tutors do any better?

Anonymous said...

"Gambling is the next pleasure to be denied us."

Which is very strange since ZaNuLabour did their level best to have cosinos deregulated and gave approval for online gambling sites.

@Mary, I remember my granddad doing The Pink Spot the Ball every Saturday evening.

George Speller said...

Can't be teaching the kiddies about probability or they might see through all the fake stats thought up by fake charities, and that would never do.

Anonymous said...

FWIW I taught my daughter aged 9 how to play blackjack. Then, playing the strict casino version, I took every cent of her pocket money off her for the next two weeks. I didn't let her get into debt to the "House", but she didn't get it back either.

She has never gambled since.

Macheath said...

Anon, I experienced a similar deterrent at my convent school; not only did the nuns at the school fete practice every trick in the huckster's manual (in the interests of charity, of course), but on rainy afternoons Sister Joseph taught us to play blackjack and gin rummy and then proceeded, with ruthless efficiency, to win our pocket money from us for the poor box.

It's a highly effective strategy.

Willy said...

I remember the fruit machine at a local youth club, informing us (in minuscule print) that it paid out 65%.

That was enough to put me off for life.

Anonymous said...

About 50 yrs ago I visited a local casino converted from a closed down cinema. This was after a night out on the pop.
Playing blackjack at 2/6d a time, I lost £7 in 15 mins. At that time this equated to half my weekly wage.
Never bothered again apart from the very occasional day at the races organised by the local pub. A social occasion with a minimum bet on each race. Don't even do the lottery.
Mind you, educating kids on probability theory is an excellent idea. First time I looked at it as applied to gambling really opened my eyes, though not as much as losing half my wage in 15 mins did.

timbone said...

We used to have family card games for pennies (old pennies, does that count). My dad used to ask me to choose a horse and put a shilling on it for me (5p). I was taught gambling when I was a kid. Now I am a compulsive gambler.......am I fuck! My only sin is doing the lottery,and if there wasn't one, I wouldn't do it. EVIL I tell you........I feel the F word coming on again

Leg-iron said...

Mary - I forgot about Spot the Ball. I never once got even close.

Henry Crun - Labour also allowed 24-hour pubs, waited a bit then turned on the drinkers. The gamblers were up for the same game. Still are, because we still have the same class of dicks in charge.

Catherine in Athens said...

I was a languages teacher and form tutor in a comprehensive school a long time ago. In the periods now known as PSHE, I made sure that every one of my charges understood compound interest as well as probablity - the true facts of life.

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