In Australia & New Zealand the problem is out of control and in Northern Europe countries like Estonia have more casinos than theatres and cinemas. The old one arm bandit has progressed to buttons but the endgame is the same, the longer you play a pokie, the more likely you are to lose all the money you put in the machine. Now we all know someone who can’t handle their booze, their G or Tina but how many GAY GAMBLERS do you know?
When you look at the gay lifestyle some may say we gamble every day with unsafe sex, drugs, pick-ups and the threat of homophobic abuse. But it’s true that admittance of self-fisting has more merit than owning up to debt caused by games of chance, such is the shame around gambling your life away. When I finally gave up booze and drugs (before they gave me up I might add), I thought I drank heavily because I was gay only to discover that I drank alcoholically not homosexually. My sexuality lifestyle encouraged an addiction but was not the cause of it. A gay alcoholic is the same as a straight one and the same rings true for gamblers. I had mentioned in a previous blog elsewhere on Internet Addiction: “Think chinese plate spinning, think tight concentration, think edging. Much like the addictive gambler who sits at the table for hours, lost in the spell of playing the game, net users can spend long periods of time in a trance like state…”
This trance like state is part of gaydar attraction, fixated on what’s gonna come up rather than what’s sitting on your plate, chinese or otherwise. Notice how high street gambling spots now look like social meeting places, we have 3 in a short stretch of Camden High Street with rows of pokies plus refreshments. You are likely to easily spot an alkie down Camden High Street but can you spot a gambler? They remain more closeted than closets. How many gay men do you know who enter the doors of William Hill for leisure? The law of average suggests they do. How would you know if your flatmate, partner or friend is a compulsive gambler since secretive behaviour is part of the deal? Gambling, like using, can be recreational but when when you start to lose more than money it may be time to get real. Like other escape routes, gambling doesn’t start as a problem, some use it to avoid feelings of depression or see it as a pleasant way of escaping life’s responsibilities. Others see it as a stimulator, a mode of excitement much like a drug high. Eventually it becomes the norm and because the addictive personality demands so much more, it’s automatic to play harder with higher stakes, no different from the average clubbers weekend cocktail of substances, highs, lows and justifications. Same meat, different gravy.
It’s easy to think that this blog doesn’t apply to you but look further. You don’t have to roll a dice to deceive. Switching credit cards, robbing peter to pay paul, cheating, lying and focusing on the future and not the present moment are all components of active addiction. Most of us have no idea what we owe, we just avoid the issue of payback time. Debt is the new bareback. Another gamble.
When you think about it, gayers are more inclined to be self sufficient, we don’t hunt in gangs like straight lads for sex, we are prone to secretive sexual antics (things we would NEVER discuss with our mates), are best placed in careers where we act alone, risk chem abuse more often and act quickly on sexual impulse. Older gay men are becoming reliant on the web rather than risk face to face in a bar. On-line sex and the need for instant gratification are seedbed practices for online gaming – real poker instead of pokies. It is the fastest growing addiction and you can see why, you don’t have to look your best for starters and with a couple of grams for companionship and a fist full of cards, your dreams can come true. Except no one knows about it. Especially when you can’t remember what you spent. It’s a bit like signing up for a porn site off yer face and 6 months later you still can’t understand why this monthly figure from nowhere keeps appearing.
Gambling alone is one thing but gambling within a relationship is the biggie. We all read the stories of the husband who has gambled away the house without the wife knowing. There must be a gay version. Not everyone who gambles is compulsive, not everyone who uses is an addict but it is clear that gayers are spending more pro rata web time than straights and this will increase as habits develop. Getting your own house in order with regular review is as wise as gym work. Great tits, shame about the court judgements does not make a great T shirt nor will it impress your new lover, unless he is a babysitting, parenting, fixing, rescuing codependent. And there are plenty of those around.