January 10, 2014 | Posted in Gambling | By

Last week we talked about Oaklawn racetrack’s new “Oaklawn Anywhere” website that lets people bet on horse races online.

The website lets people place bets literally from anywhere. If you have an internet connection, such as with a smart phone, you can gamble. You can also bet on horse races happening in other countries — all from your computer or mobile device.

So how are the bets placed? By credit card, debit card, ATM card, check, money transfer — basically any way you can get money to Oaklawn in Hot Springs.

And how much money can you wager? As much as you want.

Using a credit card, you can “deposit” money with the racetrack for placing bets on horse races; if you deposit the money online, you can give Oaklawn up to $500 by credit card at once; if you give them your credit card over the phone, you can deposit up to $10,000 at once. If you lose all your money on the races, you can always come back and “deposit” more later.

Imagine, for a moment, that a person can now max out their credit card betting on horse races all over the planet without ever leaving their home.

Sure, people can max out credit cards by shopping online, but at least they can return whatever they bought — or, if nothing else, sell it on eBay — to get some of their money back. Gambling, however, is addictive, and once the money is lost, there’s no getting it back.

Oaklawn seems to assume some people are going to be doing a lot of gambling online. Its website advertises a rewards program where players “earn” rewards points each month. “Serious players,” however, can earn extra points.

What is a “serious player”?

Someone who gambles $5,000 – $250,000 or more each month. These players qualify for “VIP Monthly Rewards,” and can get their rewards points multiplied. I guess it’s the racetrack’s way of saying, “thank you” for gambling (and losing) so much money.

Can you imagine betting $5,000 on horse races in a single month? What about $50,000 or a quarter-million dollars?

Oaklawn calls someone who places bets like that a “serious player.” I think most people would agree it’s more like a “serious problem.”

Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.