Many people see habitual gambling as a mental illness. What you’re about to read lends credence to that opinion.
At the ground floor of a three-storey building sits a nondescript home for “elderly associations.” Deep within the bowels of this ever-busy apartment, a practising medical doctor pulls out a tall stool, beckoning at a middle-aged man to “draw nearer.” In hushed words, he describes the terms of their latest punt: the father of the middle-aged man is a late-stage cancer patient in care of the aforementioned doctor. Now, doc thinks the man’s father is due to die within the next two months, and he advises Mr. Chronic Gambler to wager hundreds of thousands of dollars on that happening. Together they excitedly walk towards the peering “bookmaker” perched in his booth, hungrily waiting to take their bets.
Fiction? No. Fact? YES.
According to a report in Taiwan’s Next Magazine, a gambling trend has appeared on Shijia East Street of Taichung’s Eastern District, where over a hundred businesses under the guise of “elderly associations” are actually fronts for gambling on the probability of a terminally ill patient dying within a specific period of time. The connivance of family members is complete; so far, around a billion New Taiwan Dollars (approximately US$34.5 million) has exchanged hands.
On one street just a short 200 meters long, there were 10 fronts participating in the “death gambling” business.
It was noted that poor family members most times passed up the opportunity to provide emergency treatment for the dying in-patients, and immoral doctors joined in placing bets and encouraged others they knew to do so. Housewives, local gang leaders, insurance agents, etc., even fought to oversee individual racketeering groups.
The payment terms were mentioned in the report. It states that if the patient dies between one and six months, the bettor is paid thrice his or her wager. Government officials and family members can also get up to 10 percent dividends. However, if the patient dies within one month, there is no payout. After six months, the payout is substantially decreased, and after a year, the bettor loses the entire stake.
Eerily enough, in football betting parlance, punters know of the concept called the “Asian Handicap,” which bears uncanny similarities to the staking conditions used in this “death gambling.”
One wonders how a mentally ill doctor would help a mentally ill gambler. Never mind the terminally-ill-but-sentient human being entrusted into Dr. Evil’s loving care.