Imagine this: you are sitting on the porch of your cottage on the Saturday morning. There is a morning breeze and you can hear birds singing. Your wife is making pancakes in the kitchen and you can hear kids’ laughter while they are playing with the dog. After the breakfast, you start walking towards your boat, witch you prepared for fishing the previous evening. You know that your friends will come for sauna that evening and you feel so happy and accomplished after working all week in the restaurant…
That was my dream and I was working very hard to make it come true. That dream was shattered after my gambling addiction. All what’s left is broken man, who just lost everything what was dear to him.
After getting myself into gambling debt, I started thinking how well the betting companies are actually doing. I wanted to know everything about the gambling industry. I wanted to know where was my money going.
The world’s first-ever online casino was launched in 1996. Quite recent, right? Today online gambling is one of the fastest growing sectors. It generates around billions in annual revenues and is growing rapidly. Nowadays we have thousands of online casinos.
I can assure you that betting sites were loving me. I felt so special when one betting site made me a VIP customer. To reach VIP status, you need to be very active and gamble with large amounts of money on the available games. Because I was spending a lot of money, they give me in return free bets frequently. Getting better odds from them too was just icing on the cake. I even had a dedicated account manager sending me emails, asking if I’m happy with my faster banking and higher betting limits.
Strange to think that before my addiction went out of hands, I was thinking my gym membership was expensive (it was €45). Now I was feeding my VIP membership with €4000 a month. What a change in my thinking. How did this happen? Betting companies must be doing well if they have more costumers like me. I needed to know how well betting companies actually are doing. After countless hours spent on research, I made some discoveries.
Just like alcohol, drugs or any other addictive substances people fall prey to. Gambling addiction is a real concern facing countries where all or at least some form of gambling is legalized. The multi-billion-dollar gambling industry provides casino gambling and sports betting formats, either in land-based settings or through mobile devices—something that’s engulfed a huge chunk of the world population in their shackles.
While it’s quite a lucrative and interesting industry, which puts people’s luck to the test, there are inevitable ills that come with it. The gambling operators rely on hefty membership fees from people—from VIPs to the middle-class stratum of society—who wish to participate in various games of chance. Not to forget, online casinos and bookmakers are increasingly leveraging third-parties to extract people’s data that allows for wider promotions of gambling offers.
It’s true that traditional online gambling has become costlier than before, but operators are switching to other alternatives to keep consumers hooked. Data on people’s age, income, credit card information, and insurance are used to tailor advertisements and target people through emails.
Gambling companies reward gamblers in different ways. Gamblers are the ones who habitually land up losing whopping sums of money by falling prey to perks such as cash back on losing wagers, free bets, or even football tickets. These companies use “dynamic retargeting,” which allows them to winnow out people who have not gambled for some time and lure them into falling off the bandwagon. I was often receiving emails from betting companies, telling me they haven’t seen me for a few days and that they wanted to give me free bets. I accepted all of them straight away.
Even if some people have put a self-restriction on gambling, these companies are able to potentially lure them back, thus lessening the power of industry schemes. If one is lucky, they can win a fortune. But if one isn’t, they land up losing all they have. Even when I admitted to myself, family and friends that I have a gambling problem, and that I lost €50 000, I was still convinced that I am a very successful gambler. I was constantly thinking how I won more than half of bets, without understanding that I have actually lost everything, even money that didn’t belong to me.
The constant urge to try their luck puts people in a vicious loop that enslaves them to gambling companies. Yes, these companies are doing well, but at the cost of people’s hard-earned money, while also taking advantage of their addictive psychological patterns. An increasing trend is online casinos and sport betting games, witch due to lack of advertising restriction do not seem very harmful to young people. In my experience they are very much capable to ruin your life. I know that because it ruined my life.