Gambling versus Shakespeare: To bet or not to bet, that is the question

Mon, 17 Feb 2014  |  

There are lots of people who spend $2,000 each year and more going to concerts, plays, movies and the opera. But is the cost of these tickets dead money or money well spent?

That few thousand dollars no doubt provides a good dose of inspiration and entertainment in the delights of Carmen, One Direction, Mary Poppins, The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Hamlet and a mix of the Hollywood blockbusters and fringe movies that are always a bit quirky.

Most who spend a chunk of their hard earned cash on any such array of cultural fulfillment will no doubt think it money well spent.

But is it?

As soon as you walk out of the theatre, Sydney Opera House or concert venue, all you have are memories and perhaps some inspiration. Nothing more.
Now think of someone who loses $2,000 a year betting on horses. Could it be, like the opera go-er, they spend $2,000 entertaining themselves in the glory and adrenaline rush that you can get by betting on a race horse?

Some wowsers or those who have probably never experienced the fun of watching a horse that you have bet on charge down the home straight, often say, 'what a waste'! This is the common refrain when there are the stories that pop up from time to time that show Australians are among the world's biggest gamblers, at least in terms of the amount of money they spend each year. Some think this is a bad thing, that there is something wrong when people spend money on gambling.

It just might reflect the fact that we Australians know how to diversify our sources of fun and entertainment.

The experience of going to the races, punting a few dollars on the races is, at least in my view, every bit as inspiring as Beethoven's Fifth, Five Seconds of Summer or The Third Man, even if you do you dough on the hot favourite. The fact that gambling turnover is so high suggest others share this view.

Seeing the horse you backed hold on for a win, or watching it flounder in the heavy going for last, has highs and lows that mirror the emotions of watching a Shakespeare classic.

Some people seem addicted to the opera, have season tickets to the theatre year in and year out, queue up for wasted hours just so they can see the Rolling Stones in concert.

By all means go to the opera, spend a few hundred dollars on the tickets and have a great time. I reckon it is a waste of money.

For me, I am off to the TAB with a few dollars in my pocket. I reckon I will have more fun backing the dish-lickers at Dapto, trotters at Melton and the thoroughbreds at Bendigo and Randwick than someone seeing Il Trovatore, Bruce Springsteen, Swan Lake or The Book Thief.

I hope to be a bookie thief.

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