Last few months there has been a lot of talking about gambling advertising, both here in the UK and also during my recent visit to my country of origin- Sweden. I can only assume there are similar situations in many other countries too.
The adverts for gambling are sneaky, tempting, often targeted and of course are designed to trigger even the most resistant of people to come back for another bet. If nothing else works – they might go as far as they did to one of my gambling addicted homeless ladies and send a text message directly to her phone offering a few free spins at a nearby arcade.
The gambling industry is big business which operates with the aim of increasing its profitability. What else is new? It has never been known for caring deeply about the emotional needs of the individuals that lose their money inside of its facilities. Their social responsibility is something that is being increasingly addressed- but for now let’s face it - it is in many ways a ruthless money-making machinery that does not differentiate how, or from whom, the money comes in. I felt the need to write this as to prevent angry retaliation for those wanting to engage heavily in active outrage about the ads- because really this post is going to be about helping you withstand the relentless advertising we are currently faced with. It is not about expressing my support for how they operate - there is little doubt that gambling-ads can be harmful and will continue to ‘suck in’ those who still have plenty to lose and create a false sense of hope for those who have little to lose.
I got inspired to write this post, having witnessed far too many problem gamblers who through their obsessions about the pursuing of business from the industry, experience an unhelpful shift in the focus away from what brings them forward in their recovery. Having previously been obsessed with the gambling in a destructive manner, as you are now trying to abstain from that, the mind is kind of looking for a new thing to fixate on. WeDO NOT want that new thing to become the industry or its advertisement (Unless that focus is being used for problem solving and protecting you of course). The main focus for now, and until you are safely underway in your recovery, be on all the good stuff that is starting to constitute your life without gambling!
There is no harm being an activist and lobbying for changes that matter for public health- in fact, it can be empowering to feel that your lessons from recovery can be used to help prevent others, however, by the time obstacles and triggers become the main focus of our attention we can easily become preoccupied and end up in a state of anger, disappointment, sadness. At this point, focusing on those things is happening at the expense of the most important part of all – YOU yourself and your own personal recovery.
I have seen people so vengeful, angry and desperate to ‘get back’ what they lost or to ‘beat the bookies’ , that they end up spending time in prison due to ‘smashing’ a machine or committing illicit acts to fund further gambling to chase after losses. Or lose sleep and wellness in a state of ruminating angrily over the brazenness of those ads and how they are conspiring to pull one back in to gamble. At this level your feelings and energy expenditure is going to be wasted and counter-productive for your own progress
It is understandable that the rage and anger is there, not least given the ever-increasing numbers of people who are becoming addicted, many of whom are young people. Gambling addiction is a very real and very serious problem that we are facing now more than ever before as a result of the increased access and promotion for it as a fun and sociable activity. In reality, for some people, it can wreck lives and create suffering, not just for the gambler themselves but for the entire system surrounding him/her. But at the same time as it is understandable, you have to remember that it was the focus away from you and your life - and onto the gambling- that lead you down a path of sorrow. Continuing to focus on how they ‘got you’ and are ‘making it impossible to avoid them’ will typically result in more sorrow and hopelessness.
Is my helping really helping? Supporting a family member with gambling addiction….
Having posted a couple of blog posts by now for people who struggle with gambling addiction; I thought it was high time to also do one for those trying to support the addicted person. As much as the problem gambler will struggle within both from their inability to stop and from the damaging effects of their gambling on loved ones – there is little doubt that the family/spouses/parents struggle just as much. If you are a loved one reading this chances are that you will have suffered with some of the following symptoms….
· Anxiety & stress
· Fear and panic about their safety
· Low mood & tearfulness
· Feeling totally out of control
· Anger and disappointment
· Swinging between feelings of anger and disappointment to hopefulness
· Desperation to help; only to later feel angry that you did help
· Paranoia and obsession about their gambling
….and many more
Chances are that you are on an emotional rollercoster that in many ways mimics the one that your gambling addicted family member – with the addition of a good dose of disbelief, shock and horror about their continued activities; even at times when they looked you in the eye and swore they would stop. You wonder if they meant it or if they have become so cold-blooded that they actually don’t care how you feel anymore?
Is this the person I gave birth to/married ? …you might wonder. How could they be so caring and sensible in some ways and suddenly so callous and calculating? Maybe I misjudged them? Perhaps I am a bit stupid after all having believed what they said to me?
Last week in my group for homeless problem gamblers we had a session on self-love, and the questions that was being asked was; How to start loving oneself after all the damage inflicted by their addiction? Several group members frowned upon hearing the word self-love and one said ‘but seriously – how can I love this (pointing at self) – look at what has become of me’. What followed was a really good discussion about this ultra-important feeling for ourselves, that in its absence underlies pretty much all things bad in this world. Without loving ourselves we end up with a perforated filter for negative influences in our life, poor boundaries, and as if that was not enough we can use our lack of self-love to justify more disgraceful behaviours towards ourselves and others with the justification of ‘not being worthy anyway’. We can become habituated to situations and behaviours from others that are less than ideal; since we don’t value ourselves enough to see that we need to have better boundaries and say no. Last but not least, it also paves the way for feelings of fear, threat, and negative self-comparisons that trigger envy and in certain cases even hatred of self and others. This is a vicious cycle, and one that can end us up in a really bad place where we don’t have even a shred of respect left for our self. Needless to say, the ideal solution is just to start loving yourself; but what if all you have genuinely done a lot of damage? And if the things we have done have actually been so bad that we find it hard to even accept that it happened? How then is it possible to take such a step and start seeing oneself as an individual worthy of those things that are seemingly there for others to have. How can we allow ourselves to go against our own intuition and treat us well when everything and everyone suggests we should engage in self-punishment and deprivation?
Here are some of the great ideas we came up with in the group this week:
# self excluding and taking other proactive steps to limit the gambling from causing further damage in ones life. Depending on the country you live and what sort of gambling you have been known to engage in, the steps you take here might vary greatly. If you live in the UK there are a few good apps that will make it impossible for you to gamble online. You can also ensure that you take proactive steps and visit the bookmakers that you have been frequenting requesting to complete the paperwork for self-exclusion. Yes, this is not airtight, and I know there are millions of shops around but this step can actually feel empowering even if there are always going to be ways to gamble if you really set your mind to do it. Buy time, empower yourself by acting with assertiveness and take this step anyway. Blocking your access to gambling is the most fundamental and important step any gambler can take and a huge display of recognising that you deserve better than being able to continue to sabotage your life by further betting.
# Start to Treat yourself well in small ways daily Ok agreed- this one sounds so cliché and obvious. But simultaneously please recognise how difficult it actually is to follow this seemingly simple formula. Of course it sounds great to start treating yourself to a decent lunch, going to bed at a time that allows adequate sleep, allowing yourself a new hair cut or whatever it is. Most people I speak to would be able to easily generate a nice long list of things that they would think constitute self-caring behaviours but so few in comparison will actually do any of them for themselves. It is not uncommon for people in general to have a bit of disconnect between what people know they should do and and what they actually do – but there should not be an entire canyon between the two. Start bridging that gap by highlighting just one or two small things that you can insert into your life starting today: do those until they become natural and habitual and then add another one. Building up slowly will always make it more likely for the behaviours to stick longer term since you repeat those small changes until they are no longer requiring of the same level conscious processing. Try and renovate yourself in a day and you will tire out and end up feeling like it is ‘hard work’ to treat yourself well.
# Stop tormenting yourself with what has already happened and focus on future action instead
This step is a lot harder than it sounds. We all know behaviours can end up becoming ingrained, repetitive habits – most people have some habit they have tried to get rid of either successfully or unsuccessfully – think nail biting, thumb sucking, spot-picking or whatever you have have been ‘stuck on’ yourself. It takes effort to stop doing something. It is going to take effort in giving up the gambling. But when you begin to break free it gets easier. You feel freer. On many levels it can feel like being ‘unshackled’ from routines and rituals you knew were just damaging for you. And you can use that energy to continue breaking free and living a fuller life. What many people don’t seem to realise is that our thinking get into the same rigid patterns. The brain starts sounding like a broken record quite easily when we feed it the same experience again and again. Remember ; our emotional mind does not understand any better as it is busy looking out for our survival hence absorbs only the short-term aftermaths. Any constructed scenario that is followed out again and again and generates nice feelings, even if ever so temporary, will be memorised. The thoughts will take on whichever flavour we feed it – meaning if you teach it that going gambling makes you feel high and excited (short term) we need to recall that this is all that part of our brain cares about. Before we know it our brain will have picked up that the it will get to experience a nice ‘lift’ in mood ( or a reduction in a low) – simply by giving incessant prompts to the person to be engaging in the gambling. It basically becomes a mental habit. The mind starts thinking in particular ways more and more often, maybe even obsessively. On the flipside it can also get hooked on extensive rumination about past negative experience, failures and wrong doings. Or rehash obsessively over a past or future agony in a failed attempt to gain closure and aqcuire learning. The reason I explain it in this slightly childish and basic way is so that you can start treating that part of your mind with some detachment yet some understanding and compassion. Yes it will keep firing away with the same broken-record-spiel any chance it gets. But do you need to listen in so hard? Keep moving to better tunes and learn to feed the brain with new fresh info from which it can create new thinking habits. Your mind should be focused on the present moment for you to experience the greatest relief and enjoyment. That does not mean there are no problems to sort; but it means that you keep your mind clear enough to actually be able to sort them while enjoying life a little.
Doomed if you have …doomed if you don’t have…. The impossible role of Money for addicted gamblers and how to think about it
One of the topics that often preoccupies early day interventions for problem gamblers is that of Money. Each month of the year presents its own challenges relating to money and I thought it would be worth taking a look at the very complex role of money in the life of a problem gambler; and how having better awareness of your relationship with money can help you remain abstinent in the longer term. It can be tempting to think that paying attention to money is counterproductive to abstinence as it could ‘feed an obsession’ at a time when you are busy trying to cut your losses and move on. Not addressing your attachment to money can however have the reverse effect that you are looking for and hence I have put together a small list of points to consider as you are now entering your recovery.
Some of the complicated contradictions with money in problem gambling….
# Having money can often lead to an urge to want to gamble
# Having NO money can often lead to an urge to go gambling (you quickly want to make some more)
# Being in debt can be depressing; and the prospect of long-term repayment plans can make a gambler feel tempted to have ‘a quick win’ instead
# Living ‘hand-to-mouth’ often leads to a very short-term focus (and those living hand to mouth will usually adapt a short term focus depending on what caused what) – one where no long term plan for money exist. This state often makes people more likely to justify a little bet; in the end of the day it does not feel like there is that much to loose .. (but of course it makes it impossible to get out of the hole that gambling has created).
# Having no access to money over long periods of time often makes people feel infantilised, less achieved and sometimes a bit bored; all of which can lead to urges to want to gamble
# having outgoings monitored by a loved one often feels intrusive and difficult; and can sometimes add further strain to already strained relationships
#having nobody monitoring accounts and outgoings represents a huge risk for the gambler as they can then convince themselves that they are just ‘using a bit’ to increase the money they have, something that will result in more chasing and more losses.
It would be fair to say that most people would like to have a bit more money. This is not isolated to gamblers at all – however unlike for people suffering with other addictions- gamblers are the only ones who think (from time to time at least) that their addiction is going to make them rich and, if all goes to plan, also possibly help put the addiction to rest. This is of course far from the truth. But it does not take away from the fact that you still might want and need some more money in your life.
So how is one supposed to relate to money when it has become a curse both in its presence and in its absence? Money constitutes the absolute biggest trigger for any problem gambler! It is the very means required to fulfil your gambling addiction and as such can be equated to 'the bottle' for an alcoholic or direct drug access to a person addicted to drugs. The difference is that we still need money to live hence why significant efforts need to go into blocking access to money, and ensuring that these restrictions are not suddenly taken out or reduced for reasons that tend to be driven by ego needs and strange justifications for why life will never be the same with these restrictions in place.
The role of money is highly complicated and it will be worth it for you to spend some time reflecting over the following points. I have written them in ‘I’ format so that you can really pretend like you are thinking it to aid you in reality checking some of the distortions that can easily occur.. .
Rules of thumb for money relating & 3 things I can do right now...
# Although I keep thinking I need money – the fact is I don’t have any due to gambling anyway (and I have gambled a long time) – so is it possible that I actually need money less than I realise?
# 2. "Jag ska sluta, jag ska bara fortsätta tills jag ”vunnit tillbaka” allt jag förlorat
Dessa orden har jag hört av fler spelberoende än jag ens kan räkna. Många av dem med avservärda skulder och förödelse på flera fronter i livet pga långvarigt spelberoende. Visserligen kan detta "argument" eller rationalisering i sig vara mycket övertygande. Det är ett åtminstonne delvis ett erkännande att spelandet inte längre är en önskvärd aktivitet och att det behöver upphöra. Dessutom existerar nu en känsla av oro över skulder som har accumulerats under processen där förluster jagas. Detta är ju inte heller bra. De flesta spelberoende kommer nu också att förstå att om spelandet var ansvarigt för att skapa den här nivån av skuld till att börja med, finns det verkligen en överhängande risk att ytterligare spel, som ett sätt att återställa skulder, inte är en kanonlösning! Så även om det finns en uppriktig avsikt att sluta spela, handlar upphängningen här om att ha "bara den där sista insatsen" som gör att du kan sluta spela, och samtidigt sopa igen de finansiella spår som producerats under åren. Alla kommer vara glada igen.
Det här är naturligtvis en stor risk att ta och ett av problemen är att många spelare inte har något emot att ta den risken. Speciellt inte eftersom många bedövats i sina känslor både vad gäller värdet av pengar och i relation till att existera under högriskförhållanden. Om du är en spelare som läser detta – kan det vara viktigt att identifiera de karaktärsdrag som eventuellt bidragit till ett starkt intresse för spel. Därmed är det inte sagt att spelberoende alltid är knutet till din personlighet - eller att varje spelare är en risktagande och impulsiv, men det finns ingen tvekan om att risktagare och högre impulsivitetsnivåer är överrepresenterade bland spelberoende personer. Något som har backats upp av mycket forskning.
Även om du inte är impulsiv eller benägen att ta höga risker chansen är det troligt att du trubbats av nämnvärt emotionellt både till den positiva ”buzzen” och även risken som tidigare nämnt och därmed känner att det känns helt rimiligt att öka insatsen i jakt på både pengar och den hypnotiserande känsla som bjuds under spelseansen. I drogmissbruk ökar den drogberoende personen dosen och frekvensen för intag för att kunna uppnå samma magiska känsla som infann sig vid de första brukarfillfällena.
I spelberoende representeras tolerans av faktorer såsom ökad insats, mer frekvent och frantiskt spelande,och sist men inte minst en hög nivå av desperation som leder till att den spelande ej längre bryr sig om vad de egentligen spelar på bara det finns en liten chans till att vinna.
#1. `Mina vänner kanske vill gå på casino, svensexa i Las Vegas eller till kapplöpningsbanan etc.. Jag måste kunna ju kunna leva ett normalt liv! ‘
De flesta spelberoende jag träffar i terapin har en sak gemensamt… De har insett att spelandet inte längre är till någon fördel för dem. De har även insett att spelandet påverkar deras liv och livskvalitet negativt. Man blir frestad av tanken på att dessa insikter skulle få dem att ändra på sitt beteende, och att vägen ur ett spelberoende därför skulle bli lätt... Detta stämmer dock inte! Det är alldeles för lätt för en spelberoende att förneka den skada spelandet orsakar dem- även om de på en grundläggande nivå insett att så är fallet och att det måste få ett slut!
Som en hjälp till dig, för att du skall förstå/inse ditt eget förnekande, kommer jag i denna blogpost presentera den första (utav 8) mest vanliga ursäkterna som jag serverats under alla år i terapi med spelberoende personer. Ursäkten kommer från en spelberoende som själv insett, och även berättat för mig, att denne förmodligen borde sluta upp med spelandet... Jag kommer med detta att föreställa den `rätta´ rösten i ditt huvud, samt ge dig flera bra motargument du kan ta till då du själv märker att dina tankar låter som ett av nedanstående påståenden. Detta för att ge dig rätt verktyg för att jobba vidare med din utveckling.
Jag kommer att följa upp med fler lögner/påståenden inom kort, så håll dig uppdaterad!
#1. `Mina vänner kanske vill gå på casino, svensexa i Las Vegas eller till kapplöpningsbanan etc.. Jag måste kunna ju kunna leva ett normalt liv! ‘
Detta är förmodligen en av de vanligaste ursäkterna, och även en vanlig utlösare för återfall. Det är inte så att det inte stämmer för individen- för det gör det! Dina vänner kanske vill gå på svensexa i Las Vegas, eller gå på casino, och även roa sig på kapplöpningsbanan, med all rätt. Det viktiga är dock vad du själv bör göra, och hur du hanterar de situationer som uppkommer i samband med att besöka `hög-risk´ (för dig) platser!
Om du har planer på att utsätta dig själv för fara genom att besöka platser som man vet är i katergorin högrisk, är det lönt att kolla av din personaliga track-record och tänka över hur det har slutat vid tidigare tillfällen- i liknande situationer.
Hur har det gått de gångerna?
Din personliga historik av liknande utmaningar kommer ge dig svaret på hur du bör agera vid dessa tillfällen både nu och i framtiden. Här gäller det att du är sanningsenlig och fri från förnekelse gentemot dig själv för att kunna fatta de kloka beslut som krävs för att göra de framsteg du behöver göra, och med hjälp av dessa (kloka) beslut bli kvitt ett liv av spelberoende.
Tänk över nedanstående:
De gånger det slutade med att du spelade mer än vad du tänkt från början- förutsatt att du innan hade satt en tydlig gräns för det.
Nivån på den förlorade självbehärskningen då du insåg att du EJ kunde sluta spela trots att du satt en gräns vid ett visst förlorat belopp.
Din oförmåga att sluta spela, och lösa ut vinsten, när du var på ett så kallat “winning streak”.
Konsekvenserna som uppstått efter en spelsession, och hur de påverkat dig själv och andra i din närhet.
New year’s is a time when many people make commitments to themselves and others. Many of those commitments involve breaking bad habits and/or increasing good habits. This very much applies to peoples struggling with addictions and towards the end of a year many of the addicted people I see in therapy have grand plans about what changes to put in place come the new year.
For any person, addicted or not, the start of a new year can be very inspiring; not least if you sit down and look forward to great projects, trips, ideas or goals and achievements that you are hoping will lie ahead. Just as it can be inspirational it can also be daunting, and again, not least for people with addictions or mental health problems whom might be looking back over the year that has passed with regrets and ruminations, wondering if they can really trust themselves to make those changes, they need in the next year, any more than they did in the one just passed.
Commitment is a BIG thing and a key part of leading a life that we value and enjoy. Take a moment and think about the biggest things you have achieved in your life – if you look at what lead you to keep going all the way to the goal line ( if the nature of the commitment has a goal line which is not always the case) you will realise that it was a strong commitment to stick with the process even when things do not feel great. The thing to understand here is that we cannot listen to our feelings to decide the level of commitment on any given day. A commitment needs to be made based on entirely different basis – in brief – a basis that align well with our value system and as such can be identified as something that will make us proud of the person we are inside.
For some people, committing themselves equals a huge step out of the comfort zone. Because it means giving yourself a promise to stick with something. Something that most of us know will be easy some days but really hard other days. With that we take a risk when we make commitments; we risk letting other people down and by doing so also letting ourselves down. There’s no wonder many people I see in recovery are frightened of even making any to begin with! Unfortunately- without taking that risk; our lives will come to a bit of a standstill. Nothing materialises. No goals get met. We stop growing and developing. And a sense of void and emptiness easily sets in. Even if we DO get around to make those commitments; the race isn’t over. We now have to stick with them. This is something that the vast majority of human beings struggle with in one way or another. The New year is a particularly common time period for people to get excited about making promises, lay out the plans, make commitments, tell the world about them ...and we all know what often happens a few weeks in. That diet that never lasted. Or that new gym membership with accompanying outfit that never got used beyond the point of February. Or the addiction that picked up again once the high of early abstinence had settled down.
So how do we get better at sticking with commitments?
Here are 3 important steps that you can take right now to make the job a little easier:
#3. ‘ But I’ve ‘invested’ so much….no way can I quit now’
#4. ‘It will take too long to repay my debts any other way…’
#5. ‘I just need to be more focused…….’
#6 ‘if I can go back to how I used to gamble it might work’
#7 ‘No I am not addicted, it is not as if I wake up craving or anything….’
#8 ‘If I was addicted to gambling, surely I would have big debt. Since I don’t – it means I don’t have an issue’
Previously in this blog series I have posted individual ‘lies’ and responded to them. I have here decided to put an entire 5 lies together and address them together as they are slightly different but still arrive at the same issue. They are all in complete contradiction of REALITY and if you were to go with the statements you would be required to deny at least aspects of your current life situation to yourself. Some of them you may wish to do your own breakdown with – if they are particularly relevant for you.
Denial is a central topic in addiction – one of the hallmarks in fact, irrespective of if we are talking about alcohol, gambling, sex and pornography or anything else. Denial is an also prevalent in our thinking day to day even when unrelated to addiction. If you are someone who pays close attention to your thoughts, you won’t have to look far before you can detect times in the day when we are likely to go into momentary denial about something.
‘nooooo I didn’t just leave my keys and lock myself out, did I?’
‘I cannot believe I missed the train, I am going to be late for the interview now’
Clearly these moments of denial are slightly different from the often-prolonged state of denial seen in individuals with addiction.
#2. I WILL STOP, I’M JUST GAMBLING TIL’ I’VE RECOVERED MY LOSSES...
These are the words of many problem gamblers presenting in therapy. Many of whom have significant debts and devastation has been caused to many areas of life as a result of gambling. Admittedly this ‘argument’ or rationalisation itself can be very convincing. There is a sincere acknowledgment that the gambling is no longer a desirable activity and that it does need to stop. Additionally, there is a sense of unease about debts that have been run during the process of chasing losses- and of course it’s not hard to see that this is not good. Most problem gamblers will also at this point intellectually be able to realise that if the gambling was responsible for running up the debt in the first place: there is indeed an overwhelming risk that further gambling, as a way to recover the debt, is not a great way to go forward. So, while there is a sincere intention about quitting the gambling, the belief here is about having ‘just that final bet’ that will enable them to quit with a clean slate. Everyone will be happy again. This is of course a huge risk to take and the trouble is that many gamblers don’t really mind taking that risk. If you are a gambler reading this – it is important to recognise what character features in yourself brought you to take such an interest in gambling to begin with. Not saying that it is always tied in with your personality – or that every gambler is a risk taker, but there is little doubt that risk-takers are over represented amongst problem gamblers. And even if you are not one of them, chances are that you have ‘numbed out’ to your fear of taking risks with money over time whilst putting bets on that are beyond what you can afford. Coming back to the reasoning behind the idea of using gambling to recover from gambling problems- if often goes something like this 'rather take that risk and might win than having a guarantee of long and boring payback plan...’ and/or ‘if I just concentrate better/focus on x stock/pick the 'right' machine it could work out and I might win’
# 1. ‘ But my friends might be wanting to go to casino, stags in Vegas, days out at the race tracks etc …I need to be able to live a normal life’
Most problem gamblers I see in therapy have one thing in common. They have decided that the gambling is no longer serving them well. On some level it has been acknowledged that it is causing harm to their life: financially, relationally, emotionally or professionally or in many cases in all of the above. It could be tempting to think that from that time onwards, recovery should be a straight forward process. This is however far from the truth. Varying degrees of denial about the impact of the gambling addiction can come– even after the time where there is a baseline understanding that the gambling is a big problem and needs to stop.
In order to help you pay more attention to your own denial I will today start posting the 1st (out of a list of 8) most common ‘excuses’ that problem gamblers present to me, and to themselves, even after they have once and for all told me that they should probably quit. I am also going to act out the ‘correct’ voice in your head and give you some good counter arguments & strategies that you can use to set yourself straight once you notice your thinking sounding anything like the statements below. Each day this week I will be posting another one so stay tuned…
# 1. ‘ But my friends might be wanting to go to casino, stags in Vegas, days out at the race tracks etc …I need to be able to live a normal life surely….’
This is probably one of the most common excuses, and also a common triggers for relapse. It is not that it does not have some truth to it. It does. Your friends might be wanting to go to Vegas for their stags. You might be wanting to not miss out on a day at Cheltenham’s and more than likely your friends might on occasions be wanting to head to a Casino or to the bookmakers at some point in the future when you are around. It is tempting to think about these situations form the point of view of what you think you should be able to do. But here is where the fantasy gets confused with reality. If you are posed with a dilemma where you want to do something that you simultaneously know is putting you at risk..
…PLEASE CHECK YOUR TRACK RECORD!!
This is the answer to a lot of tricky situations you will find yourself in going forward in your recovery. Your personal track record will help illustrate to you some of the very critical information that you need to make an informed and conscious decision about your future ability to resist gambling in any given situation!