Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 5, 2012

VINCENT DAVIS: Gamblers: The last real Americans

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Wednesday night the American people, through the magic of television, were able to experience not one, but two historic events that will no doubt have an impact on all of us in the coming months.

Every major television network covered the first of three Presidential debates which are historic by the virtue that there are so few of them, and rare=important, and the Oakland A’s won the AL West and are heading into the post-season in the number one spot despite an April prediction that had them going 73-89.

There were people who watched one of those things happen with a dogged interest, I’m sure many people missed both of those things and would go on with their lives happily unaware were it not for the fact that ‘the media’ will basically talk about nothing but those two events until Monday.

But do you know who followed both of Wednesday’s major shows while furiously taking notes and fact checking, the sweat of their furrowed brow dripping into the empty mug that once contained their lifeblood, coffee (or in some cases, whiskey)? Gamblers and the people who take their bets.

This is the new millennium, a special time where one can gamble on absolutely anything. You think you know who’s going to take home the win on “Cake Wars” this season, you say that the Bills are breaking their decade long playoffs drought, you’ve figured out what Honey Boo Boo is going to do next? Put your money where your mouth is.

No one is a better or more dedicated fan of anything than the person who has his rent check, car payment or next few trips to Taco Bell riding on the outcome. Do a Google search for “election betting sites” and you’ll get more than 500,000 results, do the same search for “sports betting sites” and you’ll get more than 29 million.

The people who run and frequent these sites are providing a vital service, whether you win or lose, someone is taking home some money, money that even if re-invested in more gambling, stimulates the economy. If it weren’t for the precarious moral position that many people place gambling in I believe a candidate could run on a platform of opening OTB’s and horse tracks in every major city, yet where is the celebration for these, the men and women closely following baseball, America’s third favorite pastime (behind football and “Dancing with the Stars”)?

Many people would agree that Wednesday’s debate was the most boring ninety minutes of television they’ll sit through this month, ‘Law and Order: SVU is only an hour long and even they realize that in order to get people to sit still and watch glorified office work go on for that long they need to throw in missing runaways and scenes that show how agent Benson’s main weakness is that he just cares too much.

If you’re not a major fan of the team playing and you don’t have an appreciation for the statistical gamesmanship it takes to win a baseball game you may wonder how anyone can sit still for the hours it takes to complete a game. After all, a pitcher throwing a perfect game is more or less a glorified game of catch between two grown men.

Yet regardless of political affiliation or interest in the A’s, gamblers and their bookies were hanging on every word of the debates and every pitch thrown that night. According to a University of Iowa study, gamblers as a group are more accurate than polls when it comes to predicting who will next run this great nation.

What I’m saying is, despite their pension for vice, we can all learn something from gamblers.

Vincent Davis II is a Cornell graduate, DJ, and market development specialist in the IT industry. His column appears on the second and fourth Friday of every month. He can be contacted at vincedavis06@gmail.com