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Declan Lynch's tales of addiction: Gambling is not just about money, it's about the act of gambling itself


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Donald Trump. REUTERS/David Becker

Donald Trump. REUTERS/David Becker

Donald Trump. REUTERS/David Becker

One of the great mysteries of human existence is the desire of extremely rich people to become much richer than they already are.

It is a mystery, at least, to those humans who are not rich - and who just can't imagine why you would go to the trouble of making yourself a millionaire, only to spend your time doing whatever it takes to become a billionaire.

In theory, at least, we surmise that if we made a load of money, we would then apply our minds solely to enjoying ourselves. We can't help feeling that the acquisition of money is "work", and the spending of it is "pleasure".

What we are failing to understand is that people who want to become rich, don't necessarily want to do anything when they become rich, except to continue the process of enrichment.

It's a bit like a gambling addiction.

A gambler wants to win money, of course, but not because he loves money, as such. What he loves is gambling.

And if he has more money, he can continue to gamble with it - we are familiar now with many stories of people who embezzle funds from a financial institution to fund their addiction.

Invariably, they spend hardly any of this money on "enjoying themselves" in the traditional sense. Though they might have access to enormous sums, they will baulk at buying themselves a new pair of shoes, let alone heading off for a fabulous holiday in some seven-star resort.

And it's not just because they don't want to be drawing attention to themselves. No, they would consider such extravagance a tragic waste of precious resources, which they could use more "wisely" in the betting ring.

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Gambling is about... gambling.

It is about buying time in that pursuit, time that is soon gone, and that can only be recaptured with more money. Indeed, it is common for a gambler to feel a kind of incandescent confidence about backing a horse in the moments when he is placing the bet, and then to feel like a complete chump about five seconds later, even before the race has taken place.

Because it's over then, you see - that moment of elation, that surge of adrenaline. And now the only way he can enjoy it is by going there again.

Yes, gambling is about gambling, and, for the most part, it would appear that getting rich is about getting rich. And that's it. So when you wonder why rich people can be miserable, albeit miserable in comfort, you should think of this image of the gambler only feeling truly alive in that zone. Constantly wanting to get back there, and wanting nothing else that interferes with that.

And the rest should be pretty obvious, all things considered.

I mean, after you've spent a certain amount of time on this earth, you start to notice certain things. And one of the most obvious things is that rich people tend, on the whole, to be a bit... limited.

Indeed, their tunnel vision is that of the addict, be it the gambler or any other devotee of some black art. Yes, they are gifted in this one way - they have this ferocious need, this obsession with making money. But it seems to come at an almost ridiculous price.

If we take Trump as the ultimate exemplar of this state of being, we see a tribe of moneyed people who don't read books, who don't have taste of any kind, other than what they can buy from people who do - and who have almost no way of measuring any aspect of the universal experience of mankind except in terms of how much it costs to buy and sell.

Not that I'd want to put anyone off it, and to each his own and all that. If getting rich is all that you desire, you'll probably get there. But you might be better off enjoying yourself.


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