September 2017 Is National Recovery Month…New Article In “Keys To Recovery To Celebrate It!”

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I AM CELEBRATING NATIONAL RECOVERY MONTH TO RAISE AWARENESS, EDUCATE, AND INFORM THE PUBLIC ~ GAMBLING ADDICTION IS A REAL ADDICTION…Sharing my newest article in “Keys To Recovery Newspaper!”

I happen to be reading an article the other day, in my AARP magazine, I receive each quarter. Now I know you are thinking? “What does Gambling have to do with AARP right?”

Well, there was a fantastic article, which called slot machines, “The New Electronic Crack.” It got me thinking about my old days, within my gambling addiction. What was the draw to slot machines for me? Was it all the lights, bells, and whistles? Or was it the disease itself with the constant racing thoughts, and triggers and urges abound? Do casinos really pump in oxygen to keep players alert?

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Well, I’m not sure, but anyone can become a gambling addict. Through my 10 and half years in recovery, I have advocated, written blogs and talked loudly about this illness. I remember when I first started communicating about gambling addictions, I actually had people leave comments on “How Stupid” it was for a person to become addicted to slot machines, and not horses, cards, or sports betting. Now, in their favor, back in the day, the most common gambling problems talked about, were sports and horse betting. Sometimes you’d hear talk about “rolling bones,” which is dice games. I took offense to some of the comments as it proved to me that first, how ignorant people can be when they are misinformed or have no education about this addiction. And second, that the STIGMA around gambling addiction was wide spread within the publics view.

Since moving to Arizona from South Oregon a few years ago, I was shocked to see how many Indian Casinos are all over Arizona. Now I know Oregon and California have casinos everywhere as well, but here, IT IS LIKE a Drug Addiction, and the Casinos are selling “Electronic Crack.” I feel it is time for this “drug” widespread as it is, and the dark side of this addiction needs to be exposed. It is time for the conversation, and awareness of the personal and financial hardship this addiction causes. Not only is it attacking our seniors, but it also has reached our kids. There are currently 17+million problem gamblers in the U.S. alone, HALF of who are high school and college kids, and now is another addiction parents have to talk to their children about, along with drugs and alcohol.

TIME TO WAKE UP, PEOPLE! Gambling addiction is the #1 addiction killing people by suicide. True! That is over drug and alcohol deaths.

Anyone can become addicted to gambling. When a person walks into a casino, they got YOU. It’s why there are no windows or clocks around inside. Ever notice that? And they offer you free drinks, and some are free alcohol. They send you coupons for free play, and discount hotel rooms and meals to keep you there longer. Marketing for casinos is a ploy to get you there and keep your money. Slot machines have the highest odds to the house as well. Which means, you rarely win. And now seniors are taking the hit. As the gambling industry booms, aggressive marketing tactics are targeting older patrons. Now, to be fair, not everyone is a problem gambler or becomes addicted. And No, I don’t feel it needs to be banned, ( not that it would ever happen!)  But the expansion and more access can make staying in recovery for many much harder.

In some of the past research I have done, when writing a post for another publication, I learned how seniors are becoming the target of predatory casino tactics. I read recently in AARP, of the 101 million visitors to America’s casinos in 2014 (the last year for which information was available), nearly half were age 55 or older, according to data from the gambling industry. In 2014, American casinos reported over $66 billion in gambling revenue, and much of that profit came from these older gamblers. Also shared in my AARP article I read, that a study published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, revealed that many older adults viewed the casino as a place where they can socialize and escape from loneliness or grief. When we retire, we seem to have more time on our hands. Long gone are the days that you had to go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to gamble.

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Showgirls at the Welcome Sign – 1968

 

Thanks to the boom of the Indian Gambling offerings as of 1988, when the ‘Indian Gaming Regulatory Act’ legalized casino development on Indian lands. That sparked a loosening of state prohibitions on gambling and a nationwide casino building boom. Today, over 1,400 casinos are open across 40 states so far. In those states, casinos were very attractive to seniors who prefer to drive themselves. States with bigger populations of adults over 55, includes Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and where I lived, in the state of Oregon previously. All of these states now have expanded Indian Casino gambling in recent years, and now, State Lottery offerings on top of all of the casino expansion!

For myself, I know what I felt when I would first walk into a casino seeing the lights flashing, the noise, music and people laughing and looking like they are having a fabulous time as I got so excited that I was going to win, let alone what my brain chemicals were doing as I got so euphoric as if I did pop a pill, or stuck a needle in my arm. NOPE. IT WAS ALL my brain and body chemicals doing an inside “happy dance” of excitement! So, anyone can become addicted to gambling and for many different reasons.

“Not All Addictions Are Substance Use Anymore.”

So if you think you or someone you love or care for might have a problem, I would recommend visiting my friends at “The National Council on Problem Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous” for support and resources for a good start and direction. Today, it seems our government and states have decided to begin turning toward “Gaming” as a way to make a profit for their mistakes of not shortfall budgeting or not being fiscally responsible, so they are pushing on us, the “Good Ole Tax Payer.” now that IS predatory tactics.

BUT? That is a topic for another day and future post!

 


Author/Writer/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

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September is also National Suicide Prevention Month…

September is also National Suicide Prevention Month…

IT IS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE & CRISIS IN THIS COUNTRY! So Let’s Have The Conversation…

BUT PLEASE:

“Don’t refer to suicide as “successful,” “unsuccessful,” or a “failed attempt.” Use “died by suicide,” “completed suicide,” or “killed him/herself.”

“Most people who die by suicide exhibit warning signs. Refrain from describing a suicide as “inexplicable” or “without warning.”

“Don’t quote the suicide note or describe the method used and Report on suicide as a public health issue, not a crime.”

“The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number, 1-800-273-TALK(8255) connects the caller to a certified crisis center near where the call is placed.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.

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Especially Our Vets! They Need Us Now More Than Ever!  https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/BeThere.aspx

Veteran Crisis Line & Military Crisis Line logo

Dial 1-800-273-8255, press 1        Text to 838255

You are not alone.  Help is available.

If you are a Veteran in crisis or know one who is, call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to confidentially speak with a trained, caring VA responder and get connected to services that can make a difference. Chat online or text with a VA responder to receive anonymous support now. Deaf or hard of hearing individuals using TTY can call 1-800-799-4889.

Why I am I Sharing This? I am a Suicide Survivor and Someone Was There For Me. I am Here For You!

#BeThe1To

#BeThe1To is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s message for National Suicide Prevention Month and beyond, which helps spread the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide. The Lifeline network and its partners are working to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, to actions that can promote healing, help and give hope… I AM!

Author. Catherine Townsend-Lyon

I Am Supporting Many Including SAMHSA As September 2017 Is “National Recovery Month” and I am Dually Diagnosed…

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National Recovery Month ~ Raise The Awareness!

Every September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover. 

National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.

Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate health improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. The observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.

There are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. Since these successes often go unnoticed by the broader population, Recovery Month provides a vehicle for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments. Each September, tens of thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and facilities around the country celebrate National Recovery Month. They speak about the gains made by those in recovery and share their success stories with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues. In doing so, everyone helps to increase awareness and furthers a greater understanding about the diseases of mental and substance use disorders.

Now in its 27th year, Recovery Month highlights the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery and honors the treatment and recovery service providers who make recovery possible. Recovery Month also promotes the message that recovery in all of its forms is possible and encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective preventiontreatment, and recovery services for those in need.

The Recovery Month theme is carefully developed each year to invite individuals in recovery and their support systems to spread the message and share the successes of recovery. Learn more about this year’s theme.

Materials produced for the Recovery Month observance include print, Web, television, radio, and social media tools. These resources help local communities reach out and encourage individuals in need of services, and their friends and families, to seek treatment and recovery services and information. Materials provide multiple resources including SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662 HELP (4357) for information and treatment referral as well as other SAMHSA resources for locating services.

LET’S RAISE AWARENESS TOGETHER AND STOP THE STIGMA!

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    My Voice My Legacy ~ By Author/Advocate
on Sale
All September 2017
Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

 

“We The People Declare A State of Emergency ~ Today Is Overdose Awareness Day!”

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“WE THE PEOPLE ARE FED UP WITH WASHINGTON, D.C. ~ TODAY IS ‘International Overdose Awareness Day!”

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Facing Addiction

Dear Author & Recovery Advocate, Catherine Lyon,

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. We all know someone, who has suffered the ultimate loss. Our family, our friends, our neighbors, our children. Nobody is immune from the addiction crisis. Today is a day to remember, reflect, and speak out. Overdoses are preventable. We must do more.
This is a national emergency. Several weeks ago, President Trump stated his intention to declare a national emergency around the opioid epidemic. Since his statement – NO NATIONAL EMERGENCY HAS BEEN DECLARED.

Words are one thing, taking action is another. Action is what we need. Please, take a moment today and sign our letter to President Trump urging him to turn his words into action and officially declare a national emergency.

White House
What would a national emergency mean?

It could open up various new funding streams from the federal government. It could mean increased access to medically assisted treatment. And it could loosen restrictions on using Medicaid dollars to gain access to treatment.

Show the President you are willing to do more than talk – show him and his administration you are willing to act. Please, take a moment today to sign our letter urging President Trump to turn his words into action and officially declare this national emergency here: sign our letter to President Trump!!

Thank you for all you do.
 

With warm regards,
 

Michael King,
Director of Outreach & Engagement


It Happens Today Recovery Friends! So Please Tune Into ~Facing Addiction in America. . .

Gambling Addiction & Alcohol = FEAR “Kick Fear Out of Your Recovery. Especially If You Are “Dual Diagnosed.”

Hello, and Welcome Recovery Friends!

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The Truth About Lottery Video Poker Machines. Guest Article. “Man Vs Machine”- National Week of Action From Predatory Gambling.

Hello Recovery Friends and Welcome All Visitors,

As this is “National Addiction and Recovery Month and National Week of Action Against Predatory Gambling” I want to share a Guest Article I read a while back that sheds light on a guy who caught “The Oregon Video Poker” machines trying to make players lose instead of winning a hand of poker from an electronic game. It also sheds light on just how BAD the “odds” are of a player winning. So this man took on the video poker machines! (Article Courtesy of  Willamette Week News Website .

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Video Lottery Game Zone

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“MAN Vs. MACHINE – A video poker machine dealt Justin Curzi a strange hand. Now he’s calling the Oregon Lottery’s bluff.” 

Updated March 4, 2015
Published March 4, 2015

Curzi, 35, had moved to Oregon in 2012 from San Francisco after selling a software company he’d helped found a decade earlier. He was fascinated with the games—the ubiquitous, flashing terminals found in bars, delis, and even pancake houses—and he played occasionally when out drinking with friends.

On this day—Jan. 10, 2014, a Friday—Curzi paused playing video poker while a pal went to get a beer. He used the break to study his hand—a 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of different suits. He was close to getting a straight, which would pay $5 on a $1 bet.

The game Curzi was playing, draw poker, allowed him to discard cards and get new ones from the dealer. He knew his best chance was to discard the 2 and hope the machine dealt him a 3 or an 8 to complete a straight.

But the machine suggested he do something Curzi thought strange: It recommended he discard the 7. He would get his straight only if he drew a 3. That would cut Curzi’s chances of winning by half—and he thought it was terrible advice.

“Hey, is this right?” Curzi asked his friend when he returned.

Curzi took out his iPhone and snapped photos of the screen and the machine’s serial number.

It was the first step to uncovering what he says is a $134 million scam by the Oregon Lottery.

 

Bad Advice

“Here’s how the video poker hand Justin Curzi got on Jan. 10, 2014, led him to investigate the Oregon Lottery machines.”

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Oregon voters approved the state lottery in 1984, and today state-run gambling contributes about $550 million a year to Oregon’s budget, behind only personal income taxes.

The lottery encourages dreams of riches. But the games are engineered to take your money. “Everyone should understand that the odds in all our games favor the lottery,” says Jack Roberts, Oregon Lottery director. That’s why news reports two months ago that a Portland man was suing the lottery to recoup video poker players’ losses struck some as ludicrous.

Who would sue over losing money while gambling?

But it’s not so simple. Curzi—who friends say is intelligent, analytical and obsessively curious—launched a personal investigation of Oregon video poker machines that led him to conclude the machines were cheating players out of millions of dollars every month. That’s why he filed a class-action lawsuit against the Oregon Lottery in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleging fraud. Lottery officials deny Curzi’s allegations.

“Good for him,” says Les Bernal, national director of the advocacy group Stop Predatory Gambling, based in Washington, D.C. “What the Oregon Lottery does with these games is create the illusion that you have some control, where in reality you actually have far less.”

Curzi is aware some people might assume he’s suing to make money. He insists he’s not. “The real reason I’m doing this,” he says, “is because it’s outright wrong.”

“Justin is not afraid to jump at things, he’s not afraid to question things,” says Rob Steele, a friend of Curzi’s dating back to high school in New Jersey. “That is just catnip for Justin.”

Six days after his curious experience with the Jacks or Better game at Quimby’s, Curzi sent a polite and inquisitive email to the Oregon Lottery.

“Hello, my name is Justin,” he wrote on Jan. 16, 2014. “I’ve attached a photo of a hand that was given to me in one of your Oregon Lottery machines.” Curzi explained how he believed the video poker machine should have given him the best advice. “This does not seem to be the case,” he wrote.

Draw poker is a game of luck, strategy and second chances. The dealer gives players five cards. Players then get a chance to discard cards in the hopes of being dealt better ones.

When you’re playing poker around a table in real life, you’re betting against other players in hopes of having the best hand.

But in video poker, you’re not betting against anyone. Each hand costs you 25 cents (or more, if you increase your wager), and you win money based on a scale of how strong your hand is. A pair of jacks might win you your 25 cents back. A royal flush—the highest and rarest combination—would win you up to $600.

Unlike slot machines, video poker gives the player a sense that strategy matters. In reality, if you play long enough, the machines are geared to eventually take your money, no matter how many wins you record. Still, the sense that a player can outsmart the game is part of its allure.

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What caught Curzi’s attention was a feature on the draw poker games called “auto-hold.” The feature puts the word “hold” over cards it suggests players should keep. Players can reject the suggestions at any time.

But auto-hold has a second, less obvious function. It allows players to play faster because they don’t have to stop to think about what cards to hold before hitting the button to draw again. That’s important because faster play translates to more money for the Oregon Lottery.

Before he got a response from the lottery, Curzi returned to Quimby’s, wondering whether the game’s bad advice had only been a fluke. He shoved a $20 bill into a machine to play the same Jacks or Better game. Within 10 minutes, the game was again advising him to hold cards that cut his chances of winning in half. Curzi says he just wanted a simple explanation. “I certainly didn’t think,” he says, “I would discover what I know now.”

Who Plays Oregon Lottery Games?

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Curzi grew up as a sports-focused kid in small-town New Jersey, the son of a prominent lawyer and a stay-at-home mom. Curzi—who played football despite his small size—also wrestled, played baseball and graduated near the top of his high-school class. He played wide receiver at Amherst College, where he majored in economics and history. That led him to New York City after graduation.

“I thought the only two jobs on earth were investment banking and consulting,” he says now.

He landed his first job selling investments. Working on commission, he’d target an office building, climb to the top floor, then work his way down, knocking on doors. “I was 21, looking like I was 16, asking people to give me their money,” Curzi says. He soon climbed the monthly leader board. His boss told him he was one of the youngest salespeople to reach the top.

He wasn’t destined for a traditional job. A sticker on Curzi’s apartment door showed a group of people heading one direction, and one person walking the other way. “Routine,” it read. “The enemy!”

In 2003, he moved to Brazil and quickly immersed himself in the culture, teaching himself Portuguese within months. “You feel like the guy has been there two or three years,” says Ken Barrington, a college friend who visited him.

In Brazil, Curzi met an American computer programmer working on a way to help accountants share QuickBook files. The two teamed up and sold the program, cold-calling potential clients from Rio de Janeiro on an Internet phone line. “We must have sounded like we were speaking through tin cans,” Curzi says.

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They called the business Emocgila—mochila means “backpack” in Spanish and Portuguese—and it blossomed to 30 employees. In 2011, Curzi and his partner sold the company to Thomson Reuters in a private deal; Curzi declines to say for how much. But friends describe him as wealthy. “I’m not Elon Musk,” Curzi says of the co-founder of Tesla and PayPal.

Curzi moved to Portland in 2012 with his then-girlfriend (and now wife), who grew up in Tigard, and now lives in a $565,000 Victorian in Northwest Portland. He consults for private clients, provides microloans to entrepreneurs through the website Kiva and drives a 1996 Isuzu Rodeo “whose crowning feature is where a dog chewed the back seats.”

Friends say they are not surprised Curzi—who’s just as likely to want to discuss North Dakota’s fracking economy as the business model for Purringtons Cat Lounge—zeroed in on something as small and seemingly innocuous as a quirk in a video poker game.

“So many times in life, people just overlook the obvious,” Barrington says. “Justin has a knack for pointing those things out.”

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Marlene Meissner, a spokeswoman for the lottery, drafted a response. Auto-hold, she wrote, “is based on optimizing the player’s opportunity to win the best (highest prize) rather than simply increasing the odds of winning any prize.”

But, as Curzi later discovered, lottery officials guided Meissner to a different answer, so she revised her email before sending it. “In your case, the terminal did advise a strategy — granted not the only strategy — for you to have an opportunity to win with the cards you were dealt,” she said in her email to Curzi on Feb. 3.

In other words, the lottery was backing away from telling Curzi auto-hold offered the best option.

Curzi wasn’t satisfied. “I know your interpretation of the law is that you only have to suggest ‘a’ winning combination, but why not the best one?” he wrote in an email the next day.

The lottery’s response? “Crickets,” Curzi says.

Curzi turned to Jay Zollinger, a lawyer who had helped negotiate the sale of Curzi’s business. Zollinger suggested a public records request might turn up some answers.

On Feb. 20, 2014, Curzi and Zollinger formally asked the lottery for documents concerning the Jacks or Better game Curzi played at Quimby’s, plus any correspondence, studies and reports about auto-hold. The lottery responded on April 8, saying it would take 30 hours of staff time just to review the records Curzi requested. The lottery wanted a $2,350 deposit to cover its costs.

That fee would have stopped most people. But Curzi’s lawyer paid it. The total bill for records eventually came to $3,581.49.  Six months after his request, in August 2014, Curzi received the first of five batches of records.

By September, Curzi had hundreds of pages of emails, memos, and spreadsheets. He made a copy of the originals, arranging one set chronologically and the second by topic. He took notes on his laptop in a file that grew to 4,800 words.

Curzi came across a Feb. 2, 2009, email with a spreadsheet attached—”Video Lottery Game Payout Percentage Report.” The document had come from Gaming Laboratories International, an independent auditor based in New Jersey that works with many state lotteries to test machines.

The spreadsheet listed all the types of Oregon video poker machines by the manufacturer, the millions of games played in one-quarter of 2008 and how much money players spent.

In one column, the document showed what various video poker machines, based on calculations of probabilities, were expected to pay out to players over time.

In another column, the document showed what the machines were actually paying out. Curzi thought the payouts should have been very close to what the game’s programmers predicted.

Some weren’t. Curzi discovered the game he had been playing at Quimby’s, the Jacks or Better “Bluebird” terminal produced by WMS Gaming, was off by quite a bit.

The spreadsheet showed Jacks or Better on average should be paying out 90 cents for every $1 players put into the machine. It actually paid out about 87 cents.

That 3-cent difference may seem small, but when multiplied by the huge numbers of video poker games played, it translated to about $1.3 million per year that Jacks or Better wasn’t returning to players.

“This,” Curzi recalls thinking to himself, “is totally corrupt.”

He kept digging and made a second big discovery: Lottery officials knew about the discrepancy, and the auto-hold function on some machines was to blame.

“Due to the vendors’ auto-hold strategies, a few other poker games have actual payout percentages that are below theoretical,” Carole Hardy, the lottery’s then-assistant director for marketing, wrote on April 1, 2009. Curzi discovered a survey of video poker players the lottery commissioned from Mosak, a marketing research firm.

“Across all player types, the overwhelming majority of players said they prefer the auto-hold feature in video poker games as it makes it more convenient and easier to play,” a 2010 Mosak report said. “Players said this feature allows them to hold the correct cards, thus increasing their chances of winning.”

Curzi had only hoped to understand how auto-hold worked. He had instead discovered the lottery knew auto-hold sucked millions away from players—and players actually thought auto-hold helped them.

The lottery’s rules require “a close approximation of the odds of winning some prize for each game” and say those odds “must be displayed on a Video Lottery game terminal screen.”  Documents Curzi received show lottery officials debated whether or not they should tell players the actual odds if they relied on auto-hold.

In a memo labeled “confidential” and dated Sept. 15, 2009, lottery officials reported they had been studying their system to find video poker games that might be making payouts that were too high. Instead, they found machines whose payouts were too low.

“This triggered additional investigation regarding the integrity of the games,” the memo said. “Further, there was a question whether additional information should be provided to players to ensure they have accurate information regarding how video lottery games pay.”

The Sept. 15 memo also contained this nugget about WMS Gaming, maker of the game Curzi played at Quimby’s: “WMS has confirmed that the auto-hold strategy for all WMS poker games is set to pay out lower than the other products as a result of the auto-hold strategies WMS has implemented.”

Lottery officials, according to a separate 2009 memo, decided to put accurate auto-hold payouts on the Web. But Curzi went looking online, even using the Internet Archive search engine, to see if the lottery had ever made public the lower odds. He found no evidence it had. Over the next month, Curzi built a spreadsheet to estimate how much money the video poker machines, based on the odds, should have paid out, compared to what they actually did.

What he found startled him. Payouts to video lottery players were as much as 5 percent lower when they used auto-hold than when they didn’t. That translated to $134 million.

To Curzi, it was an outrageous discrepancy—especially given that players believed auto-hold helped them, and the lottery knew otherwise. Buried on the lottery’s website is one disclaimer: “Auto-hold strategies vary by game, based on the particular features of a game and do not necessarily result in theoretical payouts.”

Curzi says that’s not enough. The lottery is supposed to be based on chance. “You can’t manipulate the game,” he says.

In October 2014, he sent the Oregon Lottery a letter detailing his findings and notifying officials he intended to sue unless the lottery reimbursed players within 30 days. On Dec. 4, a claims management consultant in the state’s Department of Administrative Services wrote back to say the lottery was still investigating Curzi’s claims.

On Dec. 31, Curzi took the Oregon Lottery to court.

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Jack Roberts, the lottery director, took over the agency in December 2013, following years of controversy and accusations the agency wasn’t doing enough to address problem gambling. He had earlier served as state labor commissioner and ran in the Republican primary for governor in 2002.

Roberts says the lottery is fairly representing players’ chances. “Clearly the odds favor us,” he says. “That’s what gambling establishments are about, but we believe we’ve been honest in representing what they are.”

Roberts wasn’t around when the lottery introduced video poker and the auto-hold feature in 1992. “Our assumption has always been that on balance people who play auto-hold do better than people who don’t,” he says. “We don’t tell people that.”

He rejects Curzi’s allegation the lottery is intentionally misleading players. “I don’t think we’ve ever represented that the auto-hold gives you the optimal result,” he says. “The idea was that it gives you a good result.”

But records Curzi turned up show the opposite. “The machine recommends the best possible cards to hold in order for the player to win and if the player changes the cards to be held, the possibility of winning will decrease,” the Sept. 15, 2009, memo marked “confidential” reads.

Today, the lottery is in the process of replacing all 12,000 video lottery terminals in the state; it’s a routine technology update. But one consequence of the upgrade is that Oregon is completely phasing out the WMS Gaming “Bluebird” terminal on which Curzi played Jacks or Better. Roberts says Jacks or Better is being phased out because it’s unpopular with players. Roberts says the lottery is interested in finding out if more players are concerned about auto-hold.

“It gets complicated in the middle of litigation,” he says. “Any actions that we take might be interpreted as an admission that we don’t mean to say.”

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Experts on lotteries and the law say Curzi’s odds of winning in court seem low. Rob Carey, an Arizona class-action lawyer, took on several state lotteries over the deceptive practice of selling scratch-off tickets after the top prizes had already been awarded. Carey never succeeded in getting a class established for his lawsuits, but he did win payments for some plaintiffs and forced changes in state lottery practices.

He says Curzi’s case hinges on whether the Oregon Lottery’s public disclosures were adequate. “It really depends on what they’re telling the players,” Carey says.

The lottery could be safe even if the disclosures are vague. “You have to show the intent to defraud,” says I. Nelson Rose, a law professor at Whittier Law School in Southern California. “I don’t think they’ll be able to do that.”

Rose says it’s the machines’ manufacturers that should be worried.  “If the plaintiff were able to prove this was intentional,” he says, “that supplier could end up paying.”

Nevada-based Scientific Games, owner of WMS Gaming, the maker of the Jacks or Better game Curzi played, declined to answer WW‘s questions. “It is company policy not to comment on ongoing litigation,” Scientific Games spokeswoman Mollie Cole said in an email.

Curzi is undaunted. He wants players to recoup their money. He wants the lottery’s auto-hold feature to give good advice, and he wants the agency to give players honest information.

“It goes all the way back to that first photo,” he says of the photo he took of the video poker machine’s bum recommendation at Quimby’s last year. “I look at it and say, ‘That’s not right.”  .   .   .   .   .

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My own thoughts about The Oregon Lottery and the Retail places available everywhere? I had gotten hooked and was just one of several places around my town I gambled at. So when there IS “Excess to Access” you CAN become addicted.” Learn from my dear friend Ronda Hatefi and her brother’s suicide because of his Gambling Addiction & Could Not Stop!   “LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!”

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IF YOU NEED HELP From Gambling? Please Call TODAY .  .  .  .

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In Oregon:  call 1-877-MY-LIMIT (695-4648).
National Hotline:  call  1-800-522-4700 all days and hours for resources and referrals.
National Suicide Hotline: call Call  1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day.
For Family Help:  Gam-Anon: Family and friends of problem gamblers can find resources and a list of meetings at gam-anon.org or 718-352-1671.

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Author & In Recovery Magzine Columnist & Recovering Addicted Gambler 9-years 9months,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon