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Wise: Anticipation over sports gambling in DC has one minus: parting with your money and possibly your sanity

"Responsible Gambling" is an oxymoron. Amid the euphoria, is the reality that some lives could be ruined by sanctioned addiction.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — The adrenaline keeps coursing through everyone's veins, building up to that transcendent moment in D.C. sports history: the advent of legalized betting on games. And it's happening at actual reputable businesses, like Capital One Arena and a DC Lottery mobile App. 

While most serious, casual and degenerate gamblers still need to illegally go through their online and on-probation bookies for their favorite Super Bowl prop bet -- like how many plays Tony Romo will predict correctly before the snap -- there is a hope that by the time March Madness rolls around, residents of the District will be able to wager away.

Credit: WUSA(

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Now, I don't want to be that rain-on-your-parade guy, the rotten-luck Charlie Brown or Kenny from South Park type. But memo to those eagerly awaiting their first legal sports bet: You do know the owners of these establishments got into this business because they'd like to part people with their money, right?

I know this might be a revelation, but you can lose. And you cannot play for the teams you pick to win, giving you less control of the outcome than your average Texas hold' em or blackjack game. I know this because I lost several thousand many years ago. I know this because a guy I met who used to be head of the Virginia Problem Gamblers Association, lost everything. His wife. His job. Nearly his freedom. 

See, legalizing gambling in the District is like ending prohibition. Some people will have two glasses of wine per night and go happily to bed. And others will have a scotch, another and another and by the end of the week end up in detox or a recovery room. The term "Responsible Gambling" is among the worst oxymoron known to man. Gambling is not responsible. It's a huge risk. Especially if you have kids, a mortgage and plans for summer vacation. 

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And as much as I want to celebrate this new revenue stream that's going to allegedly create more jobs and make it so convenient to win big, while actually attending an NBA or hockey game, I also know for some this will create the loss of wealth, health and sometimes families. One person's new entertainment venue can be another's nadir in life. 

Here's hoping the purveyors of betting in town have enough resources to help those who have no control over the impulse to bet. Because if that doesn't happen, nobody is going to win.

That's my take. Agree or disagree, I'd love to hear yours. You can get me at mwise@wusa9.com or @MikeWiseGuy on Twitter. And if you got a question for #TheQandA, hit us up at TheQandA@wusa9.com.

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