I hear those words: “What’s wrong with a little flutter now and again? Can’t do any harm.” And you know, for most, it probably is okay. I once bet a fiver on the Grand National, I lost. I bet the following year, I lost again. That was enough to tell me that gambling isn’t for me. Some poor souls however aren’t so lucky.
I’m not a killjoy. If people want to partake, good luck to them (excuse the pun). However, when I meet a guy outside a betting office in Whitchurch who is off his face, smells to high heaven and has lost all pride in himself and he asks me “Any tips today mate?” I figure it doesn’t work for everyone. He was a lovely guy but alcohol and gambling had torn him to shreds.
For some, gambling works. Like Denise Coates, who hails from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. You’d be forgiven for having no idea who she is. If I told you she is the daughter of Stoke City Football Club Chairman, Peter Coates, you’d still probably be none the wiser.
Quick history: Denise studied econometrics at the University of Sheffield before training as an accountant and took over some of her family’s betting shops – she later sold them to Coral before setting up Bet365 in 2000. She owns around half of the private company which accepts over £50 billion in bets a year. Yes, Ms Coates is a winner. She’s worth an eye-watering £8.65 billion and last year reportedly took home a salary of over £270 million plus change (the change being a share of a £92.5 million dividend).
2012 might have been the end of the world at the movies, but it was a really lovely year for Denise. She got a CBE. So, as you can see, not everyone visiting the betting shops ends up a loser.
Sure it’s working for the big betting companies and the casinos. They’re rolling in it (that should tell you everything you need to know). Unlike wine, the house is always the winner.
Anyway, one thing you should never leave to chance is red wine. Isn’t that why I’m here?
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With a name like Hereford, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a wine from the Welsh/English borderlands but no, this hearty red has put in the air miles. It’s Argentinian and, just in case you needed to know, the ‘Hereford’ is a traditional breed of cattle hence the big black bovine which graces its label. Much like the cattle, this wine is beefy and rich. Yes, it’ll saddle up nicely with a sizzling steak but it’ll also be right at home with a good spicy curry and the cheese board that would, or should, inevitably follow. It’s colour is as mesmerising as is its fruity dance across the palate. This wine is definitely no old bull. For once, you can safely bet on red.
Just as a hoofnote, it’s estimated that gambling addiction cost the UK (that’s us) more than £100 million a year, possibly more. For Denise, that’s a shopping trip probably but it puts it into perspective. If I do have a real beef (groan) with gambling, it’s those tiresome scratchcards. At my local shop I’m regularly held up at the till by someone either buying them or bemoaning the fact they haven’t won. Either way, I lose.
Let’s drink to Denise and the immense pleasure she brings every day. And remember, when the fun stops, stop. Same goes for good wine. But, unlike gambling, that habit can be a little harder to kick.
PS. Bring back Banzai! Bet now! I loved Mr Shake Hands.
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