Gambling’s Biggest Secret

Play episode

Many people around the world enjoy gambling. But is it a problem? Adam Navis and Liz Waid look at the big business of gambling.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Follow along on YouTube
Voice 1 

When Guy was a young man, he had a problem. He liked to gamble. He played games to try and win money. Guy told how his problem started.

Voice 3 

“It all started when I won 100 pounds on a lottery card. After that I went to the betting shop to gamble on sports. And I played the machines in the shops. I did this almost every day. On some days I won some good money. But overall it did cost me a lot. What the average person does not understand is that gambling is an illness. It is like taking drugs. And just like drugs, it is also very difficult to stop. People think you gamble to win money. But to a gambler, money does not mean anything. It is what lets you keep playing. The gambler is likely doing it to escape his or her problems. I would gamble to escape my depression and fears. It’s a process; you win, you spend and you lose.

lotto cards
Lottery Cards; Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay
Voice 2 

Millions of people around the world are just like Guy. Some people gamble to have fun. Other people gamble and destroy their lives. Today’s Spotlight is on gambling.

Voice 1 

Gambling is a big business everywhere in the world. Gambling creates over 500 billion dollars each year. This includes playing games of chance. It also includes games with some skill, such as card games like Poker or Blackjack. It can include trying to choose who will win a particular sporting event.

Voice 2 

Gambling happens in almost every country. And yet, gambling is illegal in many parts of the world. Governments of many countries believe that gambling is not a healthy thing to do. This includes countries like Brazil, China, Indonesia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Other countries permit gambling, but only under strong laws. They may only permit gambling in particular cities or buildings. In these countries, when people break gambling laws they may go to prison.

Gambling at Grand Hotel De Kinshasa, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gambling at Grand Hotel De Kinshasa, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Photo by Kay on Unsplash
Voice 1 

Countries make gambling illegal because it is dangerous. People think they can win a lot of money. But people can become addicted to gambling. They cannot stop. They spend more and more money. For example, studies have found that in the United States, three to four million people are addicted to gambling.

Voice 2 

Experts give two reasons that gambling addiction has become such a big problem around the world. First, people are starting to understand the addictive power of gambling. Ferris Jabr is an editor at Scientific American magazine. He wrote about the power of gambling.

Voice 4 

“Not long ago people did not believe that a person could become addicted to gambling the same way a person gets addicted to a drug. Now scientists agree that in some cases gambling is a true addiction. Research shows that gamblers and drug users both share some qualities. They both make fast choices and want fast rewards. A drug user requires stronger and stronger amounts to get high. A gambler will attempt games with more and more risk.”

Voice 1 

The second reason that gambling addiction is a problem is that the games have changed. Years ago, people played mostly games that required a high level of skill. These were card games like poker, baccarat, or blackjack. Before you played, you had to learn the rules. You often had to travel to a special city in order to gamble.

Voice 2 

The Internet has changed both of those things. A person who wants to gamble can do so at home on their computer. There are a lot of guides online that teach people how to play the games. Sports gambling is always very popular. But now people also like to gamble on fantasy sports and e-sports, such as video game competitions.

Voice 1 

And some gambling requires no skill at all! Casinos are public places where people can gamble. One of the most popular casino games is a slot machine. Traditional slot machines have a small space, or slot, to put in a coin. But today, many use a digital card instead. These machines require no skill. People do not even need to talk to anyone else. They just press a button again and again, hoping to win money.

Slot machines
Slot Machines; Photo by Amit Lahav on Unsplash
Voice 2 

Gambling may seem harmless at first. But gambling’s biggest secret is that it can destroy your life. Terry White lives in Wales. He was addicted to gambling and it cost him everything. He explained to the BBC,

Voice 5 

“I lost my house. I have stolen. I have lied to people. I am now 40,000 pounds in debt. The low point was when I tried to kill myself. I was in hospital for three days. The pain of the addiction is with you as soon as you wake. I have nothing to live for. I am afraid of going food shopping in case I end up in a betting shop. I still want to go into betting shops. I am used to gambling 60 pounds. I could not go back to playing with five pounds. I would always be thinking “I should have gambled more!”

Voice 1 

Do you like to gamble? Do you think you may have a problem? You can decide with the help of a few questions like these:

Voice 2 

Do you gamble more money than you can lose? Do you try to win back money you have lost? Have you ever borrowed money to gamble? Have you sold something so you can gamble? Has anyone ever asked you to stop gambling? Do you ever feel bad about how your gambling affects people you love? If you answered yes to several of these questions, then you may have a problem with gambling.

Voice 1 

If you want to stop gambling the best thing you can do is ask for help. There is hope! Programs and groups exist that can help. Look for a program in your community. If you cannot find one, visit the website and click the “international meetings” link. Remember that no matter how bad you may feel about your problem, you are not alone.

Voice 2 

Do you think gambling is just fun? Or should it be illegal everywhere? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at You can also comment on Facebook at Visit us on YouTube at

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Gambling’s Biggest Secret’.

Voice 2 

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

See the Advanced program here on Thursday.


Do you know anyone with a gambling problem? Are there resources in your area for people with gambling problems?

Join the discussion

  • I’m a Muslim So , The gamling is not permit for me .and I am sure that gamlig is not healthy and not good to do and its results are totally bad.

  • Gambling is illegal in my country, although a few of people still lack the law to play it in secret. I think there should be more-powerful punishments for ones who break the law.

  • I used to play poker when I was a student with my roommates but only for fun. We
    played with small amount of money and the winner paid for the pizza and beer or the cinema tickets.

  • Gambling should be illegal in all countries because it’s unhealthy for person and his family , there are many jobs in this world so everyone doing the gambling I give you an advice please stop to do that for yourself and for your family .

  • No, I don’t know anyone whit a gambling problem.
    No, I don’t have resources I my area for people with gambling problems.
    thank you spotlight.

  • Gambling is very dangerous, and it must be illegal in all countries.
    Thanks to my Isalm in which gambling is not permitted, so I don’t do gambling and I did not see gamblers before.
    In my area, there are no resources for gambling.
    It is the first time I know that gambling is an addiction like having drugs, really it is dangerous.

  • most people dont have and dont know gambling/gambler
    But i know one
    My dad
    Dont worry
    he do it for fun
    and he only gamble a small amount
    and now i cant even remember any recent time my dad gamble

  • I never ever want to lose my money in such this silly game … but I can understand the feeling of the gamblers .. because I know many people who take drugs … so , I know what the addiction is … It’s litterly an illness as you say!
    This episode give me more information that I didn’t knew before.. I couldn’t imagine how gambiling is a danger and this is the first time i hear that it’s an addiction.

  • No I don’t know anyone with a gambling problem because I am Muslim and I live in a Muslim country so there is no gambling here also a gambling is forbidden in Islam .

    • Yep, gambling is a illegal habit to do ,also i think it’s must be a illegal thing because it destroyed the communities and make the life harder ,so you have a problem in your brain if you gamble and thank you for listning

  • Yep, gambling is a illegal habit to do ,also i think it’s must be a illegal thing because it destroyed the communities and make the life harder ,so you have a problem in your brain if you gamble and thank you for listning

  • No don’t know anyone.
    No because i am a Muslim
    And live in a Muslim country so we didn’t fore any problem of that .

  • No I haven’t tried to gamble before and I don’t want to, entertainment is everywhere why would I end up sticking to gambling which wouldn’t even benefit me in anything even my happiness would go away if I started gambling so I see no reason it’s just a mass of a bug loss

  • yes I do know my sister’s husband is a gambler but he takes responsibility for his family because he has children . I have no idea about resources that can help gamblers .

  • Alhamdullilaah we are muslims we dont play those games because our religion did not allowed to us for those things
    Even if there people addicted to those things in our area is a few people.

  • thanks god I’m a Muslim man and I’m from Egypt we don’t gambling and when we are young the parents safe us to try that

  • We are a muslims peoeple they don’t practice gambling and also I don’t any ideas for this topic because it not suitable our cultures and our religion. Moreover I hope any person stop a practise this a bad work because causes many problems and bad resultes you damage on himself and his community. In addition, this action not satisfy god therfore, must be avoid this work to live by peaceful.

  • Personally, I don’t know anyone who suffers with gambling problems. Alhamdulilah i am muslim and this behavior is tightly forbidden in our religion. Islam, this religion usually chooses to all of us the right, healthy and good things to do or to live with in our lives, to avoid and make us far away from bad things that can be very dangerous and very destroyed for human.

  • no, because in my country it is illegal to gambling and my religion it’s unacceptable. because it’s destroys your life.

More from this show

Episode 6