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Is Problem Gambling Relative?

Recent events with basketball great Charles Barkley have sparked debate over whether or not “problem gambling” can be a problem if the person doing the gambling can afford the swings that come with frequent gambling.

Barkley’s gambling issues are not new news – in fact it was during a May 2006 interview with ESPN when the former Suns player admitted to about $10 million in losses due to gambling over the years. Barkley was back in the news recently, however, when he mentioned in an interview with Phoenix television station KTVK that he won about $700,000 gambling in Las Vegas over Super Bowl weekend. His win, which came from a bet on the game where the Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 in Miami and “a lot of blackjack”, is still dwarfed by his tale about a $2.5 million loss over a six hour time frame one night last year.

But, is it a problem? Barkley himself says so, that it is “stupid”, yet at the same time he says it is only a problem when you can’t afford the loss. It didn’t cripple him when he lost the huge figure, and he says he likes it and won’t quit.

In the end, if you can afford your habits and they don’t cause problems in your life, they don’t sound much like problems – and the reverse is also true.


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