Isn’t it funny how when your friends get back from Vegas you generally hear how they either broke even or actually made a few hundred. Casinos are like Trump, they don’t need to pay for advertising and everyone who goes always only talks of winning. You don’t (or rarely) hear how they lost hundreds (if not thousands) and even when they do lose they’ll talk about the great comps they got to make up for it. We all must have lucky friends and as we know the casinos always wins. Everybody else’s friends must be the unlucky ones.
My friend and I recently went gambling at our local casino. I like to think it was for fun and to just blow off some steam. I set a budget of $100 and promised myself I wouldn’t go beyond. After I lost my $100 at Blackjack I did throw another dollar in the jackpot slot machine. I lost again.
Back to the fun part, though. I did have fun. It is always a good time when spent with friends. It did kill me though after the adrenaline washed out of my system that I squandered a hundred dollars. Not really in line with my 5 keys to building wealth. Having a beer with friends would have yielded the same fun and cost a lot less. While playing, looking around me, I didn’t see a lot of people having fun. I saw people sitting by themselves, behind slot machines and card tables throwing away dollar after dollar (and much worse) and even at the occasional win, I rarely saw anyone crack a smile.
Dollar after dollar and cigarette after cigarette. It’s amazing how almost everyone there smokes. I can’t help but make the connection between the addictive nature of smoking and gambling. To be honest having smoked for 20 years (gave it up some 14 years ago) I was concerned gambling might trigger some addictive response on my part. For now, I’m fine but ask me about that, 2 months from now.
So can you have fun at the casino? Yes, I think you can. Just keep it in moderation. Here are some ways I think you can increase the fun and limit any damage:
- Set yourself a budget. Go to the casino with a fixed gambling budget in mind. Be it $40, $60 or more, I can’t tell you what that is as it depends on your financial situation. If you’re on a multi-day stay in Vegas set a daily budget. Once you reach your budget the fun doesn’t have to be over. Get a drink enjoy the company.
- Set a goal for what to do with your winnings. Should you be so lucky to win (and it does happen) decide upfront what to do. Take the winnings and quit while you’re ahead, take out your principal and continue to play with your winnings or keep going full steam ahead. The adrenaline of winning will tempt you to keep going. Setting a goal ahead may prevent you from losing it all again.
- Pick a game that lasts a little longer. Personally, I’ve tried the slots several times now and am amazed at how fast your money disappears. What’s worse, you’re not doing anything but push a button, over and over and over again. Pick a game that takes a bit more skill and time, you may lose but it will take you a bit longer.
- Set a time limit. I can’t imagine gambling for 3 hours straight can be fun. I’m guessing that after 2 hours you’re caught up in something. Set yourself a time-limit and quit regardless of whether you are down or up.
- Go with friends. Don’t go to a casino on your own. It’s like drinking alone, not a good thing I hear. That is unless you’re there in hopes of meeting someone (but let’s get real). Take a friend or friends. Groups of people that go for a night at the casino seem to be the only ones having fun (this from observation only). It might also help to have someone around to bring you down to earth or drag you up from below.
All of this is very non-scientific and coming from someone who’s only gambled once in the last 15 years. Still I think the advice might be worth something. If you have any suggestions on how to keep a night at the casino fun I’d love to hear.
For those of you who read this blog and know how much have riding on the stock market, just keep it to yourself, investing is not gambling (I keep telling myself).
Good luck reaching your financial goals.