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You Bet!

Almost everyone dreams of winning the lottery. Why not, since almost everybody takes a chance with “Lady Luck” every once in a while. Hey, sometimes simply getting out of bed can be a gamble.

We learn from the cradle to do things that are ruled by randomness. We love board games that include dice or a stack of cards where one commands “Go directly to jail, do not pass Go.” For fun, “Life” is based on chance, and to some degree, that could be literal. “Sorry”, but gambling can be an “Aggravation.” But, we try to beat the odds – one boy playing spin-the-bottle with five girls understands that concept.

How often have you drawn the short straw? Do you feel that the cards are always stacked against you? We are told that we have to live our lives with whatever is dealt to us. Fate is fickle. We wish other people luck (good and bad). You can bet your bottom dollar. It’s a sure bet. Put your money where your mouth is.

Even in professional sports some games begin with a coin-flip to determine sides and who goes first. When someone brags that a hard shot was all skill, simply ask them to do it again. We listen to music that includes “The Gambler” and we watch shows based on winning a golden ticket, “Willy Wonka”. Wasn’t it Clint Eastwood, portraying Dirty Harry, who made famous the line, “Do you feel lucky?”

Some gambling is socially acceptable, and even a way to be social. Who hasn’t played Bingo? (No, not that musical dog, but the game that some churches are known for.) Raffles are done by volunteer groups, even done at school games, and are seemingly a way of life. We learn that losing can happen even if we do our very best. That is why the dice game played at a velvet-covered table has a more commonly voiced name. We all have played “paper, scissors, rock.” When you speed down the road (I know, I know, none of us ever does that) aren’t you gambling that the highway patrolman is NOT over the next hill?

If gambling, by definition, is taking a chance, why should we become angry when we lose? They don’t show the super-disturbed loser on “Let’s Make a Deal.” Does anyone ‘go postal’ under the Golden Arches over an unsuccessful scratch card? Imagine the headlines if a sweet, little, old lady were to start a riot over a Bingo game gone wrong?

Whole industries exist because of gambling – Vegas, Deadwood, eating at that “certain” restaurant in that “certain” town. Technically, Wall Street is professional gambling. In South Dakota, there are no “reservations” against gambling as an income; ask the casino owners.

I am not talking about gamble-holics, they are a different animal. There are, and should be, laws pertaining to the extremes and to ‘fixed’ gambling. But, the taking of opposing sides on something that is mostly chance is so common that we are all guilty. They can’t arrest all such gamblers, because there would be no one on the jury for a trial by our peers. You don’t think so? Wanna bet?