The Diagnosis: Battered Horseplayer Syndrome

Following a two and a half-year study at the University of Illinois, Dr. Alex Rotcoddam has concluded that there is indeed a clinical condition called “Battered Horseplayer Syndrome”, which affects several thousand individuals across the country.

The study was commissioned by the American Council on Problem Gambling and involved over 400 subjects. Dr. Rotcoddam published his findings last month in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“It’s actually quite similar to what is known as Battered Person Syndrome, which has been used since the 1970s as a defense in the court system,” Dr. Rotcoddam related. “It’s also widely referred to as Battered Wife or Battered Woman Syndrome, because so many of these court cases involve a female spouse or partner.”

Dr. Rotcoddam’s official definition of Battered Horseplayer Syndrome is as follows: “A physical or psychological condition of a person who has suffered (usually persistent) emotional abuse from the act of betting on horse races.”

He went on to explain that just like in the Battered Woman Syndrome, where the wife or partner returns to the man despite having been abused over and over again, there had to be a reason that a horseplayer would continue to return to betting day after day following everything they have thrown at them.

“We looked at things like the ridiculous takeout rate compared to other forms of gambling, the bad rides from jockeys, the sometimes poor decisions by the stewards and then just plain bad luck and were amazed that so many people continue this practice.”

While he didn’t go so far as to use the word “masochistic” in his paper in the Journal, Dr. Rotcoddam did indicate that most of the people who play the races on a daily or semi-daily basis must have some deep-rooted psychological problems that may or may not relate to dysfunctional childhoods.

“This may also explain many of the comments you see on Twitter,” he added.

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