I grew up in a conservative, religious household. Whenever we’d drive by the big casino, my parents would shake their heads or make some comment about what a waste of time and money that gambling could be. Now, this was before betting sites had really started to pick up and you had to go somewhere to place any big wagers. Fast forward to young adulthood and my oldest sister loves to hit up the casino whenever she’s in town. She took me for my very first time after my 18th birthday and gave me $50 to try to play with. While I had virtually no idea what I was doing and quickly squandered my gift, I happily sat back and observed her at some of the tables. As we hopped from game to game, she explained some of the basic rules of Blackjack, Texas Hold ’em, craps, slots, and baccarat. I didn’t really have money to spare at the time, but enjoyed the night I got to spend with her. I watched her get excited as she built towards a win and saw the frustration when she bet wrong. We spent some extra time at the Blackjack and Baccarat tables, so I began to learn a little more about the depths of the rules, tips, and patterns of the games.
The next time that I spent time in a casino was my first trip to Las Vegas with my two older sisters. We all went on a sister trip to celebrate their birthdays and one of their engagements. I was working more and had a little bit of extra cash that I had planned to use in the casinos. I wanted to join my sisters as they tried their luck at some of the tables and also see what I could learn from gambling in such an iconic place. I’m not sure if it was just beginner’s luck, but at the end of our long weekend I had won a little over $300 for myself. My sister advised me that if I ever wanted a big win, I’d likely have to place larger bets, but that I had done well for what I went into the weekend with. Vegas is always a fun time, but I am glad I got to bond with my sisters over our playing together.
Most recently, I visited my sister last month and we got to watch our home football team play on Sunday morning. I used to play fantasty football pretty actively, but have just been too busy this season to keep up with it. Now, my sister is a huge football fan. She thrives during football season and has always been a very competitive fantasy player. This is the first year she’s done a survivor league and explained all of the rules and potential outcomes to me. It was something we got to watch, discuss, and spend time together over. My knowledge of betting sites is next to zero, so everything she was explaining and showing to me was new. My boyfriend had used a couple of apps to place some bets, but that was the most I’d ever seen. It was really impressive to see how the brackets were set up and how a league of almost 100 people was being managed and matched. While she knew a handful of the people in the league, many of them were strangers from all over the world. Isn’t it wild how people from different places, who will probably never meet each other in real life, can place their bets and play together through the internet?
Over all, I do believe that all things need a certain level of moderation. Every participant needs to be mature and self-disciplined enough to monitor their finances/resources, but I don’t think there need to be any holds or taboos placed on just another vessel for camaraderie. It can even act as a release, for some folks. If one were to be putting money they didn’t have to spare or time that they didn’t have to give, then that would be going too far. I think that going to the casino, to the races, or placing bets on the internet can be a great way to bring people together and have some harmless fun.