Everybody likes to make money. The accumulation of wealth is so ingrained into our American way of life that wealth is synonymous with success. And for good reason. In our society, the more money you have the better access you have to pretty much everything – from healthcare to art.
For some people, there are pathways to making huge amounts of money. But for most of us, there’s not. For most of us, it doesn’t matter how great we are at our job, there’s a definite ceiling to the amount of money we can ever make.
And that’s why, given an opportunity, we’re attracted to the chance of making tons of money. And I use the word “chance” intentionally. Because I’m talking about gambling.
In 2018, the Supreme Court decided a case that allowed states to legalize sports betting. In 2020, betting on live sports games was legalized in most Louisiana parishes. In 2021, in-person sports betting was allowed here – meaning you could bet on sports games in a casino. And in 2022, the State allowed mobile sports betting.
So, how do we like our sports betting here in Louisiana? Apparently, a lot. According to recent statistics, we’re the 8th biggest sports betters in the nation. And if you rank it on a per capita basis, we’re third biggest.
Who’s benefitting from this all this sports betting? Well, you are – if you win. The State is – they’re gaining millions in tax revenue. And the casinos are probably doing okay too.
Legal real-time betting on the sports industry is fairly recent. But we’ve been placing real-time bets on just about every other industry in the US since 1790. That’s when the Philadelphia Stock Exchange was founded. That was followed two years later, in 1792, by the founding of the New York Stock Exchange.
For a very long time, stocks were traded by a select group of Americans who could afford a broker to navigate the complex process of buying and selling on these exchanges.
Then, along came the internet. Online trading democratized the investment process. Apps like E*TRADE let anyone with a few discretionary dollars and a cell phone put money in the stock market. Consequently, the current generation of investors is way more representative of the general population. One positive effect of this generational shift has been a move toward what is known as ESG investing.
ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. ESG investors invest in companies that are environmentally and socially responsible, and that encourage diversity in their own makeup. Locally, Suzanne Mestayer, Managing Principal at majority-woman-owned Thirty North Investments, is very familiar with ESG investing. She describes it as, “bringing together money and meaning.”
From the outside, a lot of things look easy. Until you come to do them yourself. Then, when you actually have to write a resume, ride a surfboard, host a podcast, or any one of a thousand things that look easy, you find there’s more to it than you thought.
Investing in the stock market is the opposite. From the outside it looks complex, even inexplicable. But once you become an investor, you realize it’s actually pretty straightforward. Of course, the action of putting money in the market and making a profit, is the same action as putting money in the market and making a loss.
Thanks to the demands for transparency that have come with the advent of ESG investing, there are now other forces than a company’s profit and loss statements that move markets. And, although there are various schools of thought on the wisdom of gambling, it’s not a totally dissimilar process to investing. You do as much research as you can, weigh the odds, decide how much you can afford to lose if things go the wrong way, and put your money down.
This is a unique conversation about investing and gambling, from two very different perspectives that come together over pizza. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com.
And you can check out more lunchtime conversation about ESG and how you can get involved in it through being selective about who you buy from online.