Walk into your local supermarket and take stock of who is queuing at the kiosk - also known as the naughty corner of the store. Here you find all manner of debaucheries from cigarettes to spirits, sharp implements to scratch cards, and the queue is likely to be filled with vulnerable looking individuals (try to read that without the implied, but unmeaning, patronisation).
There are sweet dotty old ladies, those who look like they could do with a big hug and a good meal, and those with walking aides or who use some form of mobility device. I know this all sounds very generalising, and a little controversial, but why is it that it is the most vulnerable that are most frequent visitors at the naughty corner?
We live in an age where spending £20 on various scratch cards and lottery tickets which have a minimal chance of a decent (if any) return is this section of society's best chance of bettering itself. Boy, isn't that sad. There is a whole industry built around this gambling and it is aimed at those who have the least to wager and the most to lose. Sickening. Perception is reality, and any person who takes a step back and perceives this scene will see that something has gone horrifically awry with humanity.
The chances of winning the lottery jackpot are around 1 in 45 million. ONE IN FORTY FIVE MILLION. The mind can barely compute such poor odds, yet somehow millions of us still partake in the phenomenon. This October Lotto changed, stating there are more chances to become a millionaire with new schemes, (exactly what they are, scheming bastards out to rob the poor through the sale of false hope) to lure us in.
According to the NHS, there are almost 600,000 problem gamblers in the UK thanks to the 'natural high' it apparently creates - but as with all addictions, the low must dramatically outweigh the high when your pockets are left empty after once the surge of endorphins has subsided. Especially if this means you cannot afford to buy your family food shop, or get the bus home. Any addiction can be linked to health problems such as stress, anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. So why is gambling still so socially accepted, when other addictions such as drugs, are not? It's madness.
In an article for the Guardian last year, it was found that England's poorest bet around £13bn on gambling machines, not even taking into account other forms like scratch cards and lotto. I would wager (excuse the pun) that the figure has increased since then too. It would be really interesting to conduct some thorough research on gambling as a whole - the queue at the kiosk for scratch cards and lotto tickets, betting shops, online usage - the whole kit and caboodle. No easy feat.
The internet has meant that those people queuing at the kiosk really are the tip of a very dangerous iceberg for society, because you can now throw away your money with a few clicks on your iPad, thus avoiding the shame of walking into one of those dark, dank betting shops. These are the same cohorts that look to pay day loan companies for a top up every month - getting them stuck in a downward spiral of a cycle of a come down.
The most concerning thing is that the amount spent is double that of well off areas. You can see this when looking down the high street in areas of lower socio-economic standing too - charity shop, bookies, charity shop, bookies, bookies, bank (to withdraw the last fiver to spend in the bookies of course). It is utterly bleak out there. The charity Campaign for Fairer Gambling say that bookmakers actually target the poorest areas that have high crime, low income, and high unemployment - the sadistic bastards. "Oh look there is some real poverty, let's go and coax their last penny from them through the false hope of more, MORE". We are a hopeful species, if we weren't I think we would be long gone from this planet. And so it makes sense for us to latch onto a distant dream when we are in a time of peril, no matter how unlikely achievement is.
Some book-makers, hope-givers and take-awayers, even have the tenacity to act as though they care about the society they are so obviously damaging. One well-known shop which has become centre stage of many a high street had some #gamblesmart posters (pictured) up in their shop window for a day or two last month. The irony is, that to gamble smart, one should not gamble at all. With advice such as 'only bet what you can afford' when the highest percentage of their clientele cannot actually afford to bet a penny, is truly flabbergasting. All five warnings that are heeded in this image are patronising, at the same time as being woefully on point - people who gamble to put the game before their family and friends, it does make them angry leading to health issues, and they are of course going to chase their losses because what other choice to they have? Every element of it is exploitative, and these shops are a rancid part of 21st century living and reflective of many of society's wider problems.
Is it not the job of society, and of our elected representatives to better protect these vulnerable people? Nah, the latter quite like a rich/poor divide, it makes them 'untouchable' which in itself is ironic. So society - yet again it falls to us. We must fight to stop the betting shop occupation of our high street, against the advertisement of such inappropriate social ills on the TV, online and at the supermarket kiosk. Let's face it, you have got more chance of being better off through fighting for social and political change than you have by buying a lottery ticket.