Until I read this Slate article on financial derivatives, I always assumed gambling was banned or controlled due to moral issues with gambling that arise from gambling’s addictive quality and ability to create financial ruin.
The article describes the difference between hedging and speculation. Hedging reduces risk while speculation (gambling) increases risk. The government control of “gambling” is an effort to reduce risk.
It makes sense that the government would want to prevent catastrophic financial ruin for its country.
But isn’t that what’s occurring right now?
Gambling as Risk
One aspect of gambling is risk. For those not addicted to gambling, risk is controlled by having an entertainment budget one is willing to spend. Often we go over the budget during the excitement of gambling, but enough only to cut into future entertainment budget.
For those addicted, gambling risk can be risking the rent money and other money essential for physical survival.
Gambling as Excitement
If we are going to risk something, it’s because we see the gain on the other side as outweighing the risk. In the case of gambling, the gain is a big financial payout.
For the recreational gambler, the payout is enough to risk some vacation funds.
For the addicted gambler, I see the gain being the excitement generated by the idea of a big payout. If the payout were enough, the addicted gambler would stop when he/she was ahead. But the addicted gambler puts the big payout back into the risk. So it’s not the payout but the excitement, I believe, that keeps addicted gamblers motivated.
Addicted gamblers are often not rich as they put their winnings back into gambling. This up and down in excitement, luck and lifestyle is a little like manic depression. The extreme excitement caused by the thought of winning can lead to severe depression when the results aren’t positive or the landlord puts a notice on the door that the rent is due tomorrow or else.
Gambling as Inflated Optimism
The excitement generated by gambling leads us to hope for a big payout, a payout based on chance rather than the result of our work, efforts or ideas.
In this way, entrepreneurs are truly not gamblers. Thinking I’ll make money because I have a brilliant idea is way different than thinking I’ll make money because today is my “lucky day.”
Entrepreneurs take risks, but the risk is calculated and possibly hedged. Entrepreneurs believe in themselves, not chance. Entrepreneurs may want money, but they truly want the success that money represents.
Gamblers are optimistic toward the great unknown called “chance.”
Who is the gambler of the zodiac?
Which sign is most associated with risk taking, need for excitement, inflated optimism and luck?
I see that sign as Sagittarius.
I’ve also voted for Sagittarius as most clumsy, freedom-loving and luckiest. The common motivation in these different traits is an openness and quest for meaning (or quest for the sublime as the late Howard Sasportas called it).
The quest for the sublime leads Sagittarius to take risks from falling in love, to climbing a mountain to find a wise monk to obsession with the one-armed bandit.
Taking risks allows us to meet new people and situations we wouldn’t meet while watching TV. In that way, Sagittarius can be “lucky.”
Famous Sagittarian Gamblers
Reading the Enron story, I’m convinced Sagittarius Jeffrey Skilling (former CEO now in prison), was essentially a gambler. If you read carefully what Skilling devised, some of it seems more a form of gambling versus hedging or true growth. It’s clear now that now bankrupt and defunct Enron’s “growth” was all on paper.
I’m a little concerned that the person minding the Federal Reserve (Ben Bernanke) is also a Sagittarius, born just 18 days before Skilling.
While Pluto was in Sagittarius from 1996 to 2008, there were several financial “bubbles” including the dot.com and the housing bubbles.
Abuses in mortgage derivatives, to some, were part of the reason for the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. Pluto was leaving the gambling Sagittarius in 2007-2008 and entering the frugal schoolmarm Capricorn.
Sagittarius moon even more than Sagittarius sun creates a risk-taking personality, ala Charlie Sheen. Sagittarius moon simply has no internal control to say no. Fire signs in general (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) need external control if they are to have any control at all, but Sagittarius might be the most extreme.
William Bennett, political pundit and high-stakes gambler, is not a Sagittarius but has four-five planets in Leo, depending on the moon (moon, Jupiter, Pluto, sun, Mercury).
Jupiter is the planet that rules Sagittarius and is associated with abundance. Jupiter is conjunct Bennett’s sun. With Pluto tucked in there as well, the gambling provided a sense of power. If Bennett’s moon is in Leo, there’s just no internal control mechanism in his personality.
Now that Pluto has entered Capricorn, it’s time to pay the gambling bills from Pluto in Sagittarius. I think we’ve learned our lessons about gambling. Have fun but don’t gamble the rent or the collateralized mortgage obligation.