I had a dream one night long ago in the distant past, in the dream my wife was suddenly accosted by an evil woman who proclaimed she had come to claim what was owed to her by way of gambling debts accrued by my wife. Not small debts, not merely a few thousand baht, but the house I worked so hard to save for, the home of my children.
I wouldn’t say I was one to worry about dreams too much, but everyone who lives with a gambler must worry about the harsh reality that such a dream might come true, the reality that overnight, they might be homeless, and that their children are both homeless and let down by their gambling mother. I dismissed the dream but never forgot it.
My wife had always enjoyed a game of cards, I had no objection to a social game for small stakes. Being as gambling for money is illegal in Thailand, no stakes other than bottle tops or matchsticks would be preferable. Slowly but surely her need to play cards took priority over cooking for her children and other such motherly chores, excuses were made to go out the house, when in fact she was going to play cards, only to return several hours later, often in the early hours of the morning. I feared that gambling had become an obsession, and the fun of playing for small stakes had long time passed, her little group had indeed evolved into a fully fledged ‘card school’. My dream, or more appropriately ‘nightmare’ had already become reality, or more appropriately I should say ‘living hell’ for a surprisingly high percentage of my work colleagues, some of them never even knew their wife gambled until they returned home from work to find that the door locks had been changed, and when they knocked on the door a stranger answered and informed them that the property belonged to them now. My colleagues told me stories of loan sharks calling unannounced to collect their wife’s gambling debt, or their wife inexplicably selling the car. For most it came as a shock, a bolt from the blue, and ultimately ended their marriage.
There really was not a lot I could do to confirm or distinguish my worst fear, apart from her distraction with cards there was nothing to suggest that she was about to blow the whole lot, my bank balance always appeared normal, but she had her own bank account, the car was in her name, as was the house. I had no control over any of these things, I never realized just how little control I had over my life until my wife chanced it on a pair of two’s, maybe she mistook me for the joker in the pack. It turned out the evil woman in my dream was one of my wife’s so called friends, a friend who just happened to have a better hand on the night. I don’t know the circumstances why the game got out of control, or how many games were played prior to amass such a stake. All I know now is that a long time ago I had a dream, but now like so many of my friends before me, I have a living hell. What can I say “The Lord giveth and the gambler taketh away”.
In reality, the evil woman has not accosted my wife, and hopefully my wife will never be foolish enough to take such a gamble. I did have that dream though, and I really do know a hell of a lot of friends and colleagues who have had their lives torn apart by their Thai wife’s addiction to gambling.
WHY DO SO MANY THAI WOMEN GAMBLE ?.
I don’t know the motives which make so many Thai women gamble, or if this gambling addiction is more prevalent amongst Thai women who are married to farangs (foreigners) than it is to women married to Thai men, I suspect it probably is though. Just maybe there is a combination of ingredients which make the Thai wife’s of expats living in Thailand gamble. For a start they have more time on their hands, many simply don’t need to work. They have more money to play with, quite literally. They have more time to socialize with friends. Some are bored housewife’s and some are part time housewife’s looking for something exciting to fill their time, I guess gambling ticks all the boxes for them.
Why do Thai women gamble for such high stakes ?.
I grew up in a culture where women didn’t gamble, except for the occasional night at bingo or a game of Queenie with the family. Women used to knit, crochet, do jigsaw puzzles, cook, go to Tupperware parties, and occasionally go out with friends or get sloshed at a bottle party. Men used to gamble, stay out all night playing cards until they blew next weeks rent money on a game of Three Card Brag. The reality of women playing cards for big money doesn’t paint a pretty picture in my mind, after the social game for small stakes becomes tiresome and boring it progresses into their own little card school for relatively serious gamblers. Next, they are invited to play for big money at some well known gambling den, they have some early success and grow confident, they up the stakes as their confidence grows, somebody wants them to win. Alas, when the proprietor of the gambling den believes they have reached the limit of their financial worth things start to go sour. Suddenly the compulsive gambler starts to lose, and for a gambler there is only one way to recoup your losses, play again, and again. In the controlled environment of these corrupt gambling dens there is little chance they will win their money back, so now they have to borrow from a loan shark to pay off the initial debt. Some will go to another gambling den to try and win enough to pay off their loan but the cycle starts again, and all the time the only logical answer to their problems is to continue gambling.
Is your wife a compulsive gambler.
They call compulsive gambling ‘the hidden illness’, because there are no physical symptoms, but just like nicotine, alcohol and drugs, gambling can be highly addictive. Aside from an overwhelming urge to gamble, the telltale signs of a compulsive gambler are, gambling at every given opportunity, staying out late or even for days on end, denying that gambling is a problem, neglecting loved ones, lying and stealing.
Thailand gambling trivia.
Gambling is illegal in Thailand, the only encouraged form of gambling is the National Lottery. Just because gambling is illegal doesn’t stop people from partaking, after drugs, gambling is probably Thailand’s biggest social problem, both men and women participate. Although it is not in the open, anyone wanting to play cards or one of many other methods of gambling can easily find one of an estimated 1000,000 gambling dens which are operating in Thailand.
Gambling is a disease, those afflicted become compulsive and selfish and lose all love and loyalty to what was once important in their life. Eventually the disease will shatter the lives of the gambler and their family. If you are an expat married to a Thai woman, be warned, I’m sure that you, like me have heard the horror stories of Thai women losing everything the family strives for, this disease is probably thriving in a corner of your village, waiting with open arms for the next bored housewife to chance it all on a pair of two’s.