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ARE YOU HAVING FUN?

“At the end of the day, betting should be fun, not stressful.”

ARE YOU HAVING FUN?

In the last year or two, there has been a huge effort in Australia and the UK to send a clear message to punters. Along similar lines to the now very long-term drink driving campaigns, we are now seeing the same messages aimed at us around betting. In the UK, every gambling advert comes with huge bold letters, “WHEN THE FUN STOPS, STOP!”

In Australia, the message is different but clear, “Chances are you are about to lose.”

At the end of the day, betting should be fun, not stressful. It evolved as a form of entertainment for horse racing, and whilst it is now a multi-billion dollar industry, with hundreds of companies, paying for thousands of adverts, asking you to have your fun with them, for most people, most of the time, it is just a great way to spend some time with their mates.

Some people love going to concerts, others love going on cruises, some fly to exotic destinations, and others, like me, very simply enjoy having a bet on the ponies or dogs for a bit of fun.

So, with all the messages permeating every aspect of our television and online lives, I thought it was a good time to have a look at what the messages really mean and how they affect us in a practical sense. I think back to my time as a teenager and how our weekends used to play out, and it has made me wonder if it is something we have actually been doing all along.

Early Wagering Days…

Let me take you back to the 80’s. I have such incredible and happy memories – it was great to make a plan with a dozen mates, to head to the track together on a Saturday morning with a form guide in hand and spend a few hours doing your best to try to find a winner. Most people would have a budget for the day, that allowed for transport to the track, entry to the track, enough for a feed, and then usually a set amount to bet per race.

If you didn’t find a winner, you just had a great afternoon with your mates, some high-quality entertainment and in the UK in the summer, they even put on a band for a few hours after racing. It was a fabulous day out.

If you did happen to back a winner or two and walked out with the same amount of money you started with, having paid for transport, a racebook, a feed and you still had the cash, we would head off to Wenty Park dogs.

Then toward the end of the 90’s, we added a new leg to our ‘weekend multi.’ After the dogs, we would head to the newly opened Star City for a few drinks, watch a game in the Sports Bar and end our night with a kebab at 3.00am on Victoria Road.

We didn’t bet from Monday morning to Friday afternoon and we always stayed within our budget. If we lost it at the trots and the races, we didn’t head to the cash machine to empty our banks or bet on credit. Our weekend lasted as long as our entertainment funds lasted. If you still had cash on a Sunday morning, we would all go and play a round of golf together.

 

Bonecrusher to Kingston Town

When I think back to those times, let me tell you about some of the horses we got to bet on every Saturday. Once you read these names, you will understand why these were easily the best days of our lives.

The only fair way to do it is alphabetical, although I do have a favourite. That favourite is and always will be Sunline- what a mare! But look at these names: Bonecrusher, Campaign King, Emancipation, Kingston Town (what a horse), Let’s Elope, Mahogany, Might and Power, Placid Ark, Octagonal, Rough Habit, Schillachi, Snippets, Strawberry Road, Super Impose (loved coming from last to win), the aforementioned Sunline and of course Tie The Knot.

I remember going to Rosehill on Golden Slipper Day four years running and watching Shane Dye win on Courtza (1989), Canny Lad (1990), Tierce (1991) and Burst (1992); and thinking he would win it for the next 20 years he was so good.

My most memorable Golden Slipper by far was won by the John Singleton owned, Belle Du Jour. I can see the race in my head instantly, it is burnt into my brain.

For me, that is what racing and betting is about. Great times and memories. It is not about betting money you can’t afford to lose, or to try to dig yourself out of a financial hole. The memories above were when the only person I was responsible for was myself. I didn’t have to put food on the table for a family or worry about paying a load of bills.

That’s what these messages are about now. Just reinforcing that a lot of bets you place will lose, and when it stops being fun to stop for a while and take a break.

TAKING STOCK OF YOUR BETTING

But now with so many things to bet on, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the easy access of online gambling, is it worth just taking stock of your betting? Is it doing your finances damage you could do without? Is it affecting relationships with a wife, husband, partner or family? Is it affecting the amount of quality time you spend with your kids?

Do you see it affecting any of your mates badly? Maybe have a chat and see if they are ok, because the one thing I recall from those simply brilliant racing days of the past, with no online betting and no mobile phones, we all looked out for each other.

I love racing but I understand a lot of the time, my bets will lose. That’s ok, it’s part of the game. But I make sure that no matter if I win or lose today or tomorrow, I am ok, my family is ok, my kids are ok. It needs to be fun. If it is no longer fun, then just take a break. Have a week or two off, do some stuff with the kids or do some other activity with your mates.

Whatever you do this weekend, just have fun. Enjoy it. If you are worried about money and having some issues, then trust someone that has seen it all a few times over. You can’t punt your way out of trouble, it just makes the hole deeper. So stay smart, stay responsible and just ask yourself; am I having fun?

Setting A Deposit Limit

One of the very best and simplest ways to stay out of harm’s way is to set a deposit limit. It removes a lot of the issues that can come from a losing run, which we all will undoubtedly come across at some point. When on a losing run, it can be very tempting to just reload the account and try to instantly recover the loss. It rarely works out like that for two main reasons. Firstly, you won’t be thinking straight, as you will probably be upset from the terrible luck you just had and it tends to make people bet larger amounts, to try to recover the money faster. Those two things combined are a recipe for disaster, and setting a deposit limit makes so much sense.

Betting can be very a emotional experience. The joys of winning and the despair of losing can stretch the emotions like a rubber band. When you are upset, that is literally the worst time you should be reloading the bank and betting larger amounts. With a deposit limit, it keeps things calm and under control and allows you to refocus and go again when your state of mind is where it needs to be.

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