The highest paid executive in the UK is Denise Coates, boss of the betting organization Bet365. In 2019 she received a salary of £ 277 million plus dividends bringing her income in 2019 to a cool £ 323 million.
The online popularity of online gambling continues to grow, and the industry is rightly coming under a lot of criticism. A November 2019 report says that two-fifths of 11- to 16-year-olds have gambled in the past year. Playing fruitmachines was the most popular form of gambling, followed by playing cards for money with friends and scratch cards. Placing a private bet among friends and buying Lotto tickets were also among the top gambling activities. This is very troubling as across the UK most forms of commercial gambling are only legal for those aged 18 and over.
Why is gambling so addictive? And what can we do about it?
"In simplistic terms our brains are designed in such a way that they seek rewards," explains Dr Cyrus Abbasian, an addiction specialist at Nightingale Hospital in London. But with addictive things - whether it's alcohol, drugs or gambling - Dr Abbasian says that reward system is hijacked.
"Now we live in very artificial environments. That primitive bit of the brain wants that immediate reward and without much thinking and without much logic, it is still functional. And a lot of companies - alcohol, tobacco, gambling, gaming - are making the most of that. So, when we gamble - and win - our brains give us a basic emotional reward.
Abbasian continues, "When people get addicted it reaches a stage whereby normal activities are no longer rewarding and the individual then just gambles for that buzz, that happiness, that release that most of us get naturally through everyday life. "The losses never feel as bad as the wins do good and I believe it's a deliberate ploy by the betting companies and the online casinos.”
"They know this psychology exists and that's how they target vulnerable people."
When we are solely focused on money, the temptations become so great; gambling and gaming are powerful weapons of mammon to enslave people into addiction. Paul was very clear when he wrote, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
The wise Solomon gave these warnings. “The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble. Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.” (Proverbs 28:20,22)
We need to teach our children about the dangers of gambling – and set a good example ourselves!
Learning the discipline of contentment is the key. “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5,6)