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Commentary: A bet down the wrong road
Published on November 12, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Ken Lewis

Arriving in the city, with my chest out, I was beaming with confidence that I would be very successful at sports betting. Moving to Las Vegas and staying with my uncle there gave me close access to sports books. Viewing the myriad casinos, I was anxious to start betting.

Ken Lewis grew up in the inner city in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. In 2008, he founded the nonprofit company, Juggling For A Cure, which serves communities and promotes education.
My early wins gave self-validity to my ability to win. When I experienced losses, I found myself attributing them to mistakes. Even as the losses accumulated, I rationalized that they were the result of my accidental choices. The logical fallacy being that I rarely attributed my wins to mistaken choices.

Sports betting quickly became a mental drain. I worried during the game; when I was unable to watch the game, I worried as I waited to hear the scores. Sports betting took over my thinking. Whether I was planning on making a bet, in the process of betting, or had made a bet, betting thoughts dominated my psyche.

Spending days, weeks, months, and years attempting to win at a system that is set up for loss, I realized opportunity cost in that I could have been working on achievable goals. I contemplated how the time could have been better spent attaining a higher education degree, learning a foreign language, feeding people in need, or doing something else noble and worthwhile.

While sports betting in Lake Tahoe, a representative at one of the sports books hinted to me that I should move on. The representative had witnessed my losses, and could see my demeanour deteriorating. The gentleman felt sorry for me and knew that I should be doing something better with my life. He told me stories about other sports bettors who he had witnessed destroying their lives through sports betting.

As the losses continued to build, my confidence waned. And I eventually began to break down. One day upon arriving home, my uncle found me -- not beaming with confidence, but curled up on the couch like a fetus.

I recall my former statistics professor saying that it was experts in his profession that casinos hire or consult with in order to ensure that the mathematical odds do not side with bettors. A stubborn student, I went on to learn a hard lesson that the glitter and excitement of sports betting can be a cunning façade to a perilous undertaking.

But it took getting to a broken state -- financially and emotionally -- for me to gain the realization, will, and determination to deal with my sports betting addiction. A friend once told me that the best way to deal with a problem is to replace it with something positive. Doing volunteer work, continuing my education, and pursuing other goals have replaced my sports betting. Instead of cluttering my thinking with sports betting concerns, I am concentrating on productive thoughts toward accomplishing goals. There are much better things that life has to offer.
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