Time Out: What happened to just enjoying the day?

I AM not a betting woman. 

My idea of gambling is playing poker for a bunch of M&Ms. 

What I don’t understand is how, very recently, having a punt has become the domain of the hip and trendy and is widely acceptable in day-to-day life.

Every man and his iPhone is now putting multies on this, a cheeky fiver on that, and box trifecta-ing rat races in Port Hedland.

There are new betting agencies popping up all the time, and prime-time ads directed straight at the aspirational man.

It honestly seems as though nowadays no person can go to a footy match without having some small wager on it.

Whatever happened to just enjoying the festivities of the day? 

Is having a good cheer and ploughing into a bucket of limp chips not enough any more?

Why don’t people just pour themselves a cup of tea or two from a thermos if they want to get a little loco?

It really does seem as though you can put a bet on anything as well. 

Twenty bucks on the ball hitting a rogue seagull? Sure. 

Fifty on some passing lint getting caught in Dipper’s moustache? 10-1!

Although the odds of Raphael Clarke getting run down from behind during a match are probably not worth putting a tenner on.

I, like many, usually only have a flutter on one day of the year – the Melbourne Cup.

When I was a young’n, my family and I used to annually frequent the now-demolished Lakes Entrance TAB on Melbourne Cup day. 

It was, on reflection, probably not a place for children.

It was always really hot indoors and I recall a healthy amount of acid-wash jacket about 10 years after it had been in fashion.

The amount of second-hand smoke lingering in the air alarmingly could not mask the overriding smell of sweat and urine.

Flash forward to the present day and the Lakes Entrance TAB clientele is not what is associated with betting. 

Gambling is, according to the ads, how you get chicks, become rich, and develop frighteningly pearly white teeth like Tom Waterhouse.

Regardless, every year I always seem to do my dough on some mid-weight outside chance, which leads from the front then manages to go from winning the Cup to losing by a good 20 paces in the space of the final 100 metres.

I also inevitably get sucked into purchasing several “mystery” bets – where you just hand over your money and the computer chooses a trifecta for you.

Every year I think I’m going to win big off this most mysterious of bets.

They lure you in with at least one highly favoured horse – and then make sure you don’t win by adding a couple of others which have as much chance of placing as two men dressed in a horse costume leaving a Halloween party. Not entering. Leaving.

This Melbourne Cup, I think I’ll just stick to M&Ms.

Then again, in just under two weeks time I will no doubt be talking up the chances of a nifty 20-1 pacemaker, the excellent collection of horses I got in my mystery bets and rat number five to win up in Port Hedland.


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