So now footballers in the higher leagues have been found to be involved in the match-fixing scandal. Who would have thought it? It was already utterly incomprehensible that people who are paid to play games upon which bets are made might be in any way open to bribery or impropriety; now, it seems, we are expected to believe that this financial incentive to corruption runs through the whole, immensely profitable industry.
Of course, the true tragedy here is that, in recent years, gambling has become normalised. Bookmakers, beguiling peddlers of debt and despair, are nowt but shamelessly exploitative merchants of nothingness, yet the draw of their illusory wares becomes an addiction for many. Incredibly, the propulsion of this chicanery into everyday life appears to have been actively encouraged by both the state and the media – almost as if their loyalties might have been bought…
Seemingly blinded to the lessons that we might have hoped to draw from the fallout of the casino-banking fiasco, the deepening bite of austere times and associated drought of employment opportunities have led to such a desperation of aspiration that gambling is now seen by many as being a central part of everyday life – for a great many, the sole hope of personal advancement. This treacherous promise is relentlessly whispered through television, the press and the internet (because you’ve got to be in it to win it…), sucking nobility and virtue from human endeavour and poisoning dreams.
The ‘luck’ industry, as fortune would have it, is a wholly predatory and amoral institution – its roots are in organised crime and the Mafia – and yet, in spite of this, gambling dens (traditionally shady operations which shared the dark alleys and back-streets with pimps and drug dealers) have surged onto our high streets: suddenly occupying bankrupt business premises and abandoned banks, interspersed between the loan-shark dealerships and pawn shops which now comprise our modern urban landscape, where grocers, bakers, cobblers and charity shops once held sway.
That we have succumbed to such poverty of ambition is a human tragedy of epic proportions; now it transpires that the game is fixed against us – and that’s not merely a metaphor, it’s reality.