What Happens When You Run Out of Losers?

GUEST POST by Dwight Short. Dwight is one of our authors at Austin Brothers Publishing. He is very involved in two important areas – Biblically Responsible Investing and mission work to Congo. You will want to get his books at Austin Brothers Publishing because he has a lot to say about both of these subjects. This article presents an important issue for all of us to consider.

One of my favorite clients was my own ENT doctor who was a world traveler born in Austria, educated in Hong Kong, and lived for many years in Europe before starting a practice in Cleveland, Ohio. Upon his return from a trip to a Caribbean hotel/casino he called and asked my investment advice about a company called Resorts Intl. I told him I had never heard of it but would check it out. Profit or Principles front cover

The financials were among the worst I had ever seen, and the association of what appeared to be gangster types made my report to the good doctor sound like something between financial nausea and disgust. He bought the stock anyway and he was following one of the hottest tips of the 1970’s for the company that was awarded the first casino outside of Las Vegas. My client did make money on that transaction for a while, but then he took his profits and kept buying more companies in the gambling industry and his returns from all of them turned negative.

It seems that same thing is happening on a much larger scale these days in Atlantic City where this story first began. Economic blight for that area was to be wiped out by all the casinos and for a period of time, it appeared that might happen. Those of you who have read my previous articles will recall the rule of 35 when it comes to casino gambling. You need 35 losers for every winner in order for casinos to be profitable.

When you run out of losers, you have what is now happening in Atlantic City where more than a third of the “gaming palaces” are going out of business. The fool’s gold that politicians and tax payers think they have discovered in casino gambling eventually has to give way to other forms of entertainment or industry, or there just aren’t enough losers to go around.   The novelty of losing money, no matter how glittering the bright lights might be, are an empty outcome dressed up in economic loss for both players and the community that was counting on the tax revenues. The bonds needed for building infrastructure are approaching default while even properties with the name Trump attached are going for bankruptcy #3.

My response to all of my clients to questions like this was that I would look at the companies they were interested in and check the financials for them. Despite my advice about the companies involved, some of my clients would buy things that I did not like and that I did not believe in. I executed their unsolicited orders and allowed their trades to take place and those companies sat side by side in their portfolios with my recommendations.

Sometimes, those companies were quite profitable, but most were not. Could I have made a greater impact by refusing to allow them to purchase those stocks? Perhaps so, but then for many of them, they might never have heard about Biblically Responsible Investments and may never had had a chance to understand my witness. Ron Blue often refers to every economic and spending decision as a vote either for or against what is pleasing to The Lord. How do you decide what is the correct response to a situation where you believe someone is promoting sinful behavior by their support or actions? Perhaps focusing on the things God finds beautiful will help you to answer that question.

Proverbs 14:11-12 (RSV) “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

I Peter 4:10-11 (RSV) “As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace; whoever speaks as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”

If you would like to receive Dwight Short’s weekly email, send a note to dshort@dlsconsult.com.


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