It Could Be You


The advertisements say, ‘it could be you’, and it could be, but it’s highly unlikely. It’s 8,145,060 to 1, to be exact to come up with the winning combination of numbers. But what is the National Lottery doing to our society? After the weather it’s probably the most talked about subject in silence filling conversation. The advertisements are becoming more and more frequent. They appear to be targeting a younger market and playing the lottery is now available seven days a week.

So are the National Lottery games a gateway to full on gambling? Much like cannabis is linked as an introduction to harder drugs, surely scratch cards and ‘harmless’ lottery games can be shown to have a similar effect on those that are compulsive or addictive. Gamblers Anonymous meetings around the country will lay testimony to the fact that there are many types of compulsive gambler. Horses, sport of any kind and lotteries are among the most popular vices of choice. Watch any sport on TV these days and the ad breaks are littered with advertisements for bookies. The common denominator between these ads and those of the National Lottery, are that both are trying their utmost to sell a dream. Bookies ads are bright and show wads of cash, lottery ads have been known to show expensive sports cars, winners lying by a swimming pool, drenched in sun, big houses and ultimately, a life beyond your wildest dreams.

Selling dreams however, is a dangerous business. The afore mentioned, Gamblers Anonymous rooms are filling rapidly with those that are seeking help. If cigarettes and alcohol carry health warnings, surely Gambling should carry the same. In such a time as recession, these advertisements can sway people to spend money that they can ill afford to spend, trying to buy this ‘dream existence’.

The National Lottery of 2013 is a far cry from the operation that started back in 1987. The scratch cards and the once a week draw caused much hype at the time. Now, you can play each and every day. The draw soon became, twice weekly, now there is Monday Millions, Telly Bingo, Daily Millions, Euro Millions, the list goes on and on and all are now accompanied by a plus draw or two. Isn’t it ironic that much like the compulsive gambler wanting more and more, the games became more and more but is the Lotto like a compulsive gambler, in that it has gotten out of hand.

Addiction brings with it certain ironies, the alcoholic or drug addict that seeks a high, inevitably falls lower than ever, only to go in search of that high again and so it continues. The compulsive gambler, wants more and more but ultimately is left with less and less. Irish society has a habit of ignoring these problems. There has been much better awareness around alcohol in the past few years but there has been a major growth in gambling. Main streets in all our towns and cities are home to bookie shops. Their numbers increasing steadily. Long gone are the days of the smoke filled, dirty premises up the lane ways. These days, coffee, tea, sandwiches and biscuits are provided for customers in bright, clean attractive premises.

Just like any addiction, there are people that can ‘handle’ gambling and there are people that certainly can’t. It’s up to each individual whether they fancy a flutter or not. The problem with Lotto advertisements is that it glorifies the whole gambling culture. Irish society whisper about, ‘so and so’ that lives in the bookies but the same society has great difficulty in comprehending the fact that ‘so and so’ may feel that he/she just can’t stop. The bookies themselves will admit that online gambling is the most lucrative. People can gamble in the comfort of their own homes, no-one will see them slipping in and out of the bookies. The Lotto can be purchased in the local corner shop and it has been normalised and readily accepted into Irish society. Parents send in young kids to get a ‘quick pick’ for the draw. Is the Lotto responsible for compulsive gambling? No, but the similarities between the two are undeniable, one is just labeled as ‘harmless fun’.

The warnings are there to be seen, as personal debt mounts up, people get desperate and the Lotto provides a real way out. They have in fairness to them, a page on responsible gambling on their website but you have to go looking for it. Surely, with all the glamour of the advertisements a simple warning could be attached at the end. The truth of the matter is that the opposite side to the Ferraris and mansions is a life of hardship and want. So when our kids watch the ads for these products and see the tag line, ‘it could be you’, we should also explain the dangers of gambling and implant that ‘could be you’ also.

  1. Anyone that may have a problem, or knows anyone that they think may need help, gamblers anonymous are available throughout the country. Feel free to contact me directly either, if I can be of any assistance I will try.

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