80 million to 1

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My cousin was a gambler. He died last year of self-inflicted wounds, but while alive he taught me the definitive lesson about gambling. He said, "When you win, you lose; and when you lose, you lose."

His point was that once you begin to gamble you're hooked and winning or losing becomes secondary — just playing the game is all that matters.

I thought of him as the TV flashed the news of the country's biggest lottery winner taking home 109 million dollars after taxes. People justified the 80 million to 1 odds by saying that one lucky guy was a winner and it could have been them.

The sad part no one reported was the fact that in order to produce that one winner, millions of people had to lose part of their hard earned money. In addition to this, they also forfeited a measure of personal freedom as the gambling disease was discreetly injected into their veins in order to guarantee their loyalty to the next round of lottery mania.

Let's be careful of the gambling bug. Once you get it you lose all the time, even on those rare occasions when you win. The only way to avoid it is never to begin, not even "for fun". That's how my cousin started to lose everything precious to him including his life.