Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Odds Stay the Same

Back when I was a kid, I think the gaming laws in my province were pretty relaxed. A walk through the mall on any given Saturday afternoon included any number of tables set up by local community organisations and charities, selling those pull-tab tickets as a fundraiser. I could never resist. Just 50 cents a try, what's to lose? But I'd use up all my quarters. One time I actually paid with a special 50 cent piece I'd collected. It was pretty nuts. I did have a lucky streak and won fairly regularly, but of course I spent more than I won. If my mom was with me she kept me in check. But on my own all quarters were fair game. At least I didn't get into my dollar bills. I had some restraint.

And, honestly, I'm not sure what was more compelling me to keep playing "just once more" - winning or losing?

Needless to say, that was a long, long time ago and the gaming regulations are much more sensible now. Those tables of pull-tab tickets are long gone, as is selling lottery tickets to kids. I no longer feel tempted by gambling, though I'll buy tickets for charitable causes, and I did buy in to my office's lottery pool.  And, yes, I will joke about the lottery as my "retirement plan," but it's clear I don't mean it.

Not everyone is so immune to the temptation though. I'm lucky my little obsession was so short-lived.

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) has a campaign running to help the public understand gambling, and how the odds of winning work. GameSense How Gambling Works is a website that addresses gambling myths, odds & randomness, and the difference between skill-based and entirely chance-based games. But even the skill-based games (think Blackjack) still have a huge element of chance.

Did you realise that no matter how many times you roll the dice, the odds of the winning combination coming up in any given roll don't change? The dice don't remember that you've just lost 4 times in a row. They aren't going to cut you a break.

I think this video is a pretty cute way to illustrate this fact in an understandable scenario:

Bottom line - gambling is filled with chance and randomness. Multiple tries don't change the odds. The GameSense site offers a number of tips to help you play safely, including play for fun not the win, and always set and stick to a budget. Visit them for some more insights!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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