I was cured of gambling young. Straight out of school, I worked the blackjack tables at Jupiters Casino (Gold Coast) and Burswood, in the city of lights. The job was easy, well paid (Penalty rates! Remember those?), the casino provided a clean uniform at the start of each shift, a 20-minute break for every one hour on the tables, as well as all the hotel food I could shovel into my guts during those endless breaks.

What I wasn't prepared for, but what prepared me, paradoxically, for the obstacle course of life that lay ahead, was the relentless losing in front of me. Yeah, I saw plenty of what all those hopeful bastards called "winning streaks", as if the cards followed some cosmic plan, some reward for their cunning and bravado.

If the money doesn't come from gambling, it has to come from somewhere. Call it a tax on stupid. 

But, what I mostly saw were the same delirious guys and gals, hours later, sometimes a straight 24 hours later when I rolled into the casino for the next day's shift, moping around the two-buck tables, their skyscrapers of $100 chips dissolved into a couple of low-rise five-dollar slums.

The few times I worked the high-rollers room, all I saw were these hopeful merchants (mattress salesmen from Malaysia, electronic retailers from Australia, supermarket franchise owners, USA, shady money launderers from everywhere) throwing away 30, 40, 50 grand at a time.

Every so often, that dumb game baccarat would cough up a win. And, suddenly, the gambler would be vindicated. Sure, I'm down a hundred k, but didn't I just win 30? The pit boss would smile at his dumb whale and say, "Have another drink! Enjoy that comped penthouse suite!"

Not once, in three years, did I see a patron smash the bank and stroll outside, wallet inflated with a casino cheque or with a brick of cash. The nature of greed is such that when the winning streak inevitably ends, the gambler chases the next one, losing more and more.

If logic tells you anything, it's that palatial estates built on prime land and sassy waitresses swinging by with trays of free drinks, have to be paid for by something.

A casino is a commercial transaction. The casino provides the fun, the ambience, the drinks, the gals, and a small shot at winning. A very small shot. That well-upholstered seat you're lounging in? It's paid for by all the losers before you.

The upshot, of course, is jobs and tax revenue. If the money doesn't come from gambling, it has to come from somewhere. Call it a tax on stupid.

I think about gambling because every day there's another story of another dumb fool throwing away the family's fortune or looting their employer's biz to fund a gambling habit. The casino or the RSL, meanwhile, has no idea that the very ordinary person before them, this housewife, this bank clerk, this retail shop assistant, can easily lose five-grand a day, every day, for years.

And, you want to know why? Because a gambler believes they are superior, intellectually, to the laws of chance. Everyone else is a dumb schmuck but them even when they've ruined their lives, the audit has been called in at their workplace, and are running on the final couple of hundred on their credit cards..

I know, I've seen it. For some of 'em, it's a system they picked up out of a book or the way they tap the green felt or the degree of intensity of their breath when they blow on the dice.

And, the truth? The house always wins.