Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gambling vs. Collecting

When does a hobby become an addiction? What is the process that takes place mentally and intellectually that converts a collector into a gambler? Can a sports trading card gambler still be considered a collector?

The degree to which the synapses in Gellman’s brain fire, can only be described and/or compared to the Millennium Falcon making the jump to hyperspace. The past 2 days he as posted on a couple of topics of long-time interest to me. One in particular, we all know about (Beckett Sucks), the other is a little discussed trend in the Hobby that I refer to as “the gambler”.

The introductory questions posed above, will not likely be answered by one person’s opinion or without more sophisticated research and journalistic skills. Other questions that come to mind when thinking about this topic are;

What percentage of total revenue do products $300 and above represent to a card manufacturers bottom line?

How many collectors (purchasers of sports cards) spend over $1,000 per month?

How many collectors (purchasers of sports cards) spend over $1,000 per week?

What was the decision making process by Upper Deck to continue to produce $500 per pack products after indicating in 2003/04 that the release of NBA Exquisite was a “once in a life time product”?


The behavior of spending thousands of dollars on high-end product like National Treasures, Exquisite, Premier, Ultimate and the like, for some people, has become as compulsive of that of a sports bettor or casino gambler. Are the card companies enabling this behavior?

Do the card companies have an ethical or moral obligation to in some way limit this practice?

As an advocate and participant of capitalism and the free market I don’t necessarily think so. However, in recent years even gambling and sports betting companies advertising on TV or radio have been legislatively required to provide funding for “stop gambling programs”.

Should advertisement for high-end trading cards in print require some sort of disclaimer?

Let’s face it, most of us in some way shape or form are addicted to our hobby, and while I have never heard of a wife complaining that she couldn’t make the mortgage payment because of her husband’s purchase habits, why would I not be surprised if it has actually happened?

As I commented in Gellman’s
post, Topps seemed to exploit this segment of collector (and I use the term very loosely) with the release of Treasury Basketball which contains rip cards with actual currency in them. I was mistaken in that I thought there was a $10,000 bill inserted but the actual amount is $1,000. I can’t help but feel that this product was specifically produced to appeal the gambler.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

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