An Expert and Real Words About “Gambling Addiction” From Arnie Wexler, Author, Expert, and My Friend.

PLEASE, take a listen to this very important video of Arnie Wexler and his take on Gambling Addiction and about his book, gambling addiction. As Now We Kick Off Another “Betting Superbowl!!”  . . . . .

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“A Look at Problem Gambling Problem with Arnie Wexler a Certified Compulsive Gambling Counselor and Author of  “All Bets Are OFF

 

 

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About The Book:

Arnie Wexler’s life as a gambler began on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, flipping cards, shooting marbles, and playing pinball machines. At age fourteen he found the racetrack, a bookie, and started playing the stock market. His obsession with gambling accelerated until a fateful day in 1968 when it all came crashing down.

Wexler’s gripping narrative leads us through the dungeon of a compulsive gambler’s world—chasing the big win and coming up with empty pockets—and how his addiction drove him and his wife, Sheila, to the edge of life. With help, they managed to escape, and together they have devoted themselves to helping others with the problem they know so well.

Arnie and Sheila Wexler have provided extensive training on compulsive, problem, and underage gambling to more than 40,000 gaming employees and have written Responsible Gaming Programs for major gaming companies. In addition to running the toll-free, national helpline 888-LAST-BET, Sheila and Arnie are consultants to Recovery Road in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, a Sunspire Health private residential treatment facility for adults with chemical dependency and problem gambling.

Steve Jacobson was a sports reporter and columnist for Newsday for more than forty years with a great interest in all aspects of sports. He co-authored a number of books with notable sports personalities. He was named by Associated Press among the top sports columnists and twice was nominated by Newsday for the Pulitzer Prize.

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Book by Arnie and Sheila Wexler
and Steve Jacobson.

Read about Arnie’s life of addiction and how it impacted his wife Sheila and their family.

Books can be ordered on Amazon.com

Watch the YouTube video of The Steve Malzberg show’s review of the book and interview of Arnie and Sheila.

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Courtesy and Visit Arnie’s Blog: WWW.ASWEXLER.COM

http://aswexler.com/2017/01/11/n-f-l-playoff-gamessuper-bowl-and-gambling/

Recovery Guest Blog & Article Spotlight. Marilyn Davis of ‘From Addict 2 Advocate’ & Article By, Carl Towns.

Note from  of  Addict 2 Advocate:  I’m always excited to bring another voice to From Addict 2 Advocate. Carl Towns discusses his struggles with gambling addiction and offers straightforward information, his experience with gambling, and some solutions.

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Gambling Addiction: When Rewards Stop Working

Gambling is one of those attractions that are present in everyday life – the football pool at the office, betting on a presidential race, wagering a dollar on the weather, bingo at the senior citizen center. We might even get a scratch-off with our change from the convenience store, and most people turn a blind eye to these kinds of gambling.

However, the rewards for these seemingly innocuous chance games is what can fuel a gambling addiction.

Our brains have neural pathways; one of which is the brain’s reward system. This system involves electronic impulses that turn into pleasure, memory, and motivation. When a person engages in basic actions such as eating, sexual activity or even sleep; the reward system starts to work. The brain releases a chemical neurotransmitter known as dopamine, which is the one responsible for all the feelings of pleasure and euphoria one might experience upon engaging in certain activities. Experts used to think of addiction as dependency on a chemical; they now define it as repeatedly pursuing a rewarding experience despite serious repercussions.

This is the reason drugs have such an addictive power. These substances basically trick the brain into thinking it has engaged in a highly pleasurable activity and releases up to 10 times the normal dose of dopamine, sometimes even more.

Gambling, much like drug addiction has the same impact on the brain and its dopamine production/release, the difference is that no outside chemicals are working, but the brain starts to relate only gambling-like scenarios with pleasurable ones.

For me, it was just an occasional escapade because I had a couple extra bucks to blow or because I ‘happened’ to be vacationing in Las Vegas and gambling is what people do in Vegas, right? At first, I thought of this as harmless fun, until it wasn’t anymore. I didn’t get the same feelings from just occasionally going to the casinos and found that it was impossible to distance myself from the practice of gambling in any form.

Although I realize now what was happening to me,  many people are unaware that gambling addiction causes the same outcomes as drug and alcohol addiction; it is a problem that affects people all across America and the world. If your gut is telling you that someone you know or love (or yourself) is engaging in gambling at the expense of other areas of their life, these facts may help you decide if there is a problem. As with a substance abuse problem, you may need to help your loved one, or yourself, find professional help.

1. Underestimating the Disease

One of the biggest problems is that often people treat don’t treat gambling addiction seriously. Many times I was told to “brush it off” or “snap out of it”. While those statements prompted my guilt, I was unable to stop gambling, so went to greater lengths to hide my gambling.

If someone approaches you telling you they are suffering from this, listen to them and support them, just like you would do if they were addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Gambling is not unlike chemical drugs; one taste can be enough to hook someone. The first time I set foot in a casino was on a cruise with my family when I was 17. I loved it and when I went back, I started looking for bets everywhere until I was able to work and I could play money.

If you go with young ones to a casino or any gambling site, such as a horse track; talk to them and have them understand that there are risks involved and they should not feel bad if they find it difficult to stop. Caution them that gambling addiction is real and that if they are struggling, even after one round of betting, whether they lose or win, is a good way to be proactive about gambling addiction.

2. How Gambling and Substance Compulsive Consumption are Very Similar

After an extended period of time of regular consumption of drugs or gambling, the reward system basically malfunctions, and three things occur as a result:

3. What Are You Doing and Where’s the Money Gone?  

There are many symptoms related to gambling addiction, however, one word sums them up –spending. How much time are you or someone you know spending in casinos, online, buying scratch-offs and how much money is being spent there?

While the “spending” symptoms are the biggest ones to look out for, there are plenty more signs that can indicate if you or someone you know is falling or has fallen into a gambling addiction. When gambling is a secret, how much money is spent, or what activities you’re engaged in; those are huge red flag warnings. Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • Breaking even will become the goal in the face of big losses (even though it probably won’t happen).
  • Gambling becomes a priority: Planning how to earn more money to gamble, how to take advantage of the games; gambling, probabilities, teams, machines, etc. are all the person can talk about, normal events (like social gatherings) are forgotten in order to go gamble.
  • Gambling becomes an exit to relieve stress or suppress feelings of anxiety and even loneliness.
  • Having the need to gamble increasing quantities of money, if the next bet is not bigger, then it’s not exciting.
  • No matter how much the person works or how much they (or you) earn, it will always be an evolving financial loss situation due to constant gambling.
  • Personal relationships, such as marriage, children, family or even close friends are put in serious jeopardy because of gambling, professional life will be affected too.
  • There are several (failed) attempts to cut down the gambling.
  • When their gambling gets cut down unexpectedly bad temper or irritability start to show.

4. Withdrawal

When I finally realized I had a problem, I tried to stop gambling on my own. I decided that isolation would work. I went to my family’s cabin (which is in the middle of nowhere, in Iowa) to get away from all the temptation.


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I always thought that abstinence syndrome or withdrawals only applied to drugs or alcohol, but in that cabin, I found out it applies to gambling too. I started experiencing unpleasant mental and physical distress, insomnia, anxiety, and even physical pain. A pathological gambler would have the need to be constantly aiming higher, making riskier bets to achieve the same thrill, and high, so when I denied myself all that, I went into withdrawal.

It was a hard path, and if you or a loved one are demonstrating signs of a gambling addiction, it’s very important that you understand it’s not a moral failure or a bad habit, but a compulsion and brain disorder. In order to be treated properly professional help must be sought, if you know of someone suffering from gambling addiction or if you are suffering it yourself, please seek help.

5. Help is Available

Remember that recovering from such disorder is something possible even for people suffering the worst of it. A pathological gambler can make his or her way back to sanity and stability in their life. Resources for gambling addiction are available through local mental health agencies or here are some online resources and books for you to see if you can identify with a gambling addiction and then find help.

The National Problem Gambling Hotline

Gambling Help Online

A great book on gambling and the price one woman and those who knew her had to pay is by Catherine Townsend-Lyon,  Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat)


Regardless of whether you find help locally or online, just know that gambling addiction will not improve on its own. However daunting that sounds, I know the pitfalls of gambling addiction and the peace and of recovery. I hope you find them, too.

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Biography: Carl Towns

I’m Carl Towns a 28-year-old wannabe writer; I am also a recovering addict on the path of self-discovery. My goal is to learn as many things as possible and to seize every single moment I live, pretty much trying to make up for all that I missed in the years I was lost in drugs and alcohol and gambling. I’m in love with tech, cars and pretty much anything that can be found online.

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Biography: Marilyn L. Davis

A recovery curriculum author with 27 years of abstinence-based recovery, Marilyn advocates for and writes to the addicted population.
She opened and ran an award-winning women’s recovery home from 1990-2011, creating a recovery curriculum, Therapeutic Integrated Education Recovery System, which breaks addiction down into the variables and then offers time-tested exercises for healing, relapse prevention, and dealing with codependency and self-defeating behaviors.

She is the Assistant Editor at Two Drops of Ink, where she shares her gifts as a communicator, encouraging other writers to use their creativity to share their talents through writing.  She believes in the power of words and knows that how something is said is just as important as what is said.

From Addict 2 Advocate explores addiction, recovery, and codependency with the same attention; write, so people relate and heal, and become the best person they can be.

Awards
Marilyn Davis Community Service Learning Award, Brenau University, 2008: ongoing award for individuals in mental health, wellness and recovery.
Liberty Bell Award, Northeastern Judicial Circuit, 2010: given to non-attorneys for their contribution to the criminal justice system and their communities.

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**Presented By Recovery Starts Here! ~ Author/Columnist, Catherine Lyon** 

 

Last Guest Post Rounding Out Our Series of The Oregon Lottery-Forprofit Gambling. Who Is It Costing?

Last Guest Post Rounding Out Our Series of The Oregon Lottery-Forprofit Gambling. Who Is It Costing?

Hello and Welcome Back Recovery Friends,

I thought I would end my series of “Exposing The Oregon Lottery” a for-profit legal gambling sponsored by the State of Oregon. They have many online services like Keno, video poker, slot machines, along with all the other retail products they sell like scratch tickets and Powerball and other drawings. For me, it was a life changing experience to have for gambling machines to be practically everywhere you went. Bars, Taverns, Restaurants, even the grocery stores.

So I happen to be asked to share how or where did I gamble the most to become addicted by ” Keys To Recovery Newspaper, Inc..” They are a free recovery publication that has thousands of subscribers and is placed in many Addiction/Recovery conferences “Welcome bags” nationally all year long. They started a new column called; “QUIT To Win” about problem gambling and gambling addiction and recovery to raise more awareness of this growing disease. So here is my story of how I started gambling every day many times a day on “The Oregon Lottery” video machines, besides at Indian Casinos. . . . .

“QUIT To WIN” ~ Keys to Recovery

“I can still remember the day I learned about “Flush Fever” a video poker game sponsored by ‘The State of Oregon Lottery’ as it was just yesterday.”

I became aware of the video poker game “Flush Fever” that is on video machines sponsored by “The Oregon Lotteries Forprofit” gambling. My husband and I lived in So. Oregon for over 26 years before moving to Arizona in 2013 and where we live now. These poker machines are how I got my start into problem gambling, and slowly crossed into a full-blown gambling addiction, as we know this illness is a slow progressive addiction.

I wrote about this in my current book titled; “Addicted to Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.” Here is an excerpt of my book about this part of my gambling history. The Oregon Lottery for-profit gambling has devastated many lives and has torn many families apart. They introduced video poker machines in most bars, lounges, restaurants and even all these little “lottery retail deli’s.” Here is how I got hooked, then graduated to include Indian Casinos everywhere.

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– An Excerpt from My Book titled;  “FLUSH FEVER”

After a visit to Oregon with my parents, my best friend, Debbie, who had lived next door to me in California for many years, decided to move to Oregon after her visit. She moved up and stayed with us until she got settled at her new job. A few year’s prior, the state of Oregon passed a for-profit gambling bill to allow video poker machines in places that served food, such as bars, taverns, delis, and even most restaurants. The lottery already had Keno games online. For my addiction, that was a downfall for me as soon I started compulsively gambling later. It was so accessible and everywhere.

If you live in Oregon, you know what I mean. If you think about it, gambling is socially accepted. It’s pretty much everywhere you go – even in our children’s schools, with raffles, casino fundraisers, in our churches with bingo, and at our gas stations, markets and grocery stores with Megabucks, Powerball, Mega-Millions drawings, and scratch-off ticket machines. So, for an addicted gambler, it seemed “action” was everywhere, and when you’re addicted, you have no self-control. You feel as though you’re always teetering on a high wire.

When the state approved the video poker machines, the machines also popped up everywhere. Why drive to Las Vegas, Reno or Lake Tahoe, or go to an Indian casino, when you can go up the street to gamble? In the town where I lived, there were lottery retailers everywhere around town disguised as delis and, as long as they served food and soft drinks, they could have up to six poker machines in their stores. They also sold beer, wine coolers and the cheapest cigarettes in town. They offered all types of lottery services and games.

As my husband continued working out-of-town for the next several months, this left lots of time on my hands, and with my friend Debbie staying with me, she and I would often have lunch at one of these delis. Around the same time, she and I would take weekend trips to the Indian casino, or go to the deli for lunch a lot more often. As that year went by, I also noticed I’d spend a little more money than I should have. I believe it was because of the easy access to gambling, and too much time on my hands. Was I addicted at this point? Hardly. That would soon change, though. As I look back now, I was experiencing a few “red flags” of addiction, but not recognizing them. I remember having growing feelings of excitement before I went, knowing I’d get to gamble if we met for lunch at the deli, or if we were going to the Indian casino.

The only thing I did was play Keno if we went at our local deli. I had never played the new video poker machines there, which were operated by the state lottery. One day, in early 1998, Deb and I went to have our usual lunch at the deli on a Saturday. We started talking to four retired gentlemen, who were also having lunch and playing Keno while they ate. One of them finished his lunch and went on the other side of the deli playing one of the video poker machines, so I walked over to watch him play. He was winning. He had about $140 worth of credits on his poker machine. I asked him how much of that money did he start with to win? He said “only $10,” and he cashed out that $140.

Well, you don’t have to tell a person like me who used to work in a bank how much profit he’d made so far. He was playing a game called “Flush Fever,” and explained how the game worked. I think that’s the day my life changed. The machine next to him was open, so I sat next to him and put in only $5 and won $45. I thought, ‘Wow, that sure was easy money.’ So, I cashed out my ticket, sat back down next to him and played again. I started with $ 10 – it was a quarter game, so I increased my bet to 75 cents a hand. The machine started paying again. See, it’s the allure of the game and thinking you’re winning every time you play. That’s why winning, for an addicted gambler, is just as bad as losing. It will keep a person’s ass on that chair gambling. The same with chasing your loss.

As I was playing, the guy next to me got up and was getting ready to leave. For as long as I live, I will always remember what happened next: He leaned over my shoulder and said to me, “When you’re ahead, always cash out, and know when to leave with their money, because I’d hate myself if you got hooked on these machines.” Oh, if only I had listened to his sage wisdom. I still look back today, all these years later, and I remember what that man said to me. He never knew how that day changed my life because I never saw him there again. He never knew my story of how I became a gambling addict. . . . .


“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) by [Townsend-Lyon, Catherine]

“Editorial Review”

By Author, Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin PhD., Best Selling Author.

“Pathological Gambling is a more serious problem than most people realize.”Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon’s honest accounting of rejection and abandonment issues, verbal and sexual abuse, stress and anxiety, family dysfunction, relationship and communication problems, self-esteem issues, guilt and shame issues, and addiction are extremely powerful! She shows just why many individuals turn to, and are set up for addiction. Her tell-all style of writing was like listening to a friend tell you their life story. Not everyone has an “angelic childhood.”

This book is about in-depth healing, love, overcoming, rising above, and being your brother’s and sister’s keeper. This is a must read for anyone in the addiction treatment industry, and anyone suffering from problem gambling or family members who have problem gamblers in the family.

This book should remind us all not to believe the lies of addiction or others in the gambling industry. Remember that we all have a purpose, a place, and a right to be without gambling in our lives!”

“A great read and I highly recommend this one!”

Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Ph.D., DCC, DDV, DD, NCIP, IMAC. Best-Selling Author, Editor, Publisher, Speaker,Coach, Consultant, Addiction Expert as seen on FoxNews, ABC, NBC.

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The Oregonian’s Continuing series about the Oregon Lottery and how it Disproportionately Leans on Problem Gamblers to keep its Revenues Flowing.

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends,

Here is another article of this series I will be sharing this week and weekend to prove that for-profit gambling profits ARE being made on the backs of problem gamblers and those addicted. Common sense is they don’t make profits off the just “once in awhile” players . .  .  . “Players Beware”

 

Oregon Lottery: Agency pushes slot machines as problem gamblers pay the price
(Courtesy of TheOregoniann Newspaper)

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In 2011, a team of Texas consultants hired by the Oregon Lottery visited dozens of Portland-area bars, restaurants and “delis” with video slot and poker machines to ask hundreds of patrons about their gambling habits.

What they found is the exact opposite of the fun-loving image the lottery has cultivated for years.

The biggest chunk of players, according to documents obtained by The Oregonian, park in front of a machine and gamble alone until all their money is gone.

“Video lottery is currently a solitary exercise,” Mozak Advertising & Insights concluded in bold green type, adding that “running out of money” is the primary reason for ending a gambling session.

It’s a classic description of problem gambling. 

And it fits with other records analyzed by The Oregonian showing that most of the lottery’s revenue comes from just a sliver of players who lose thousands of dollars a year. Some wind up bankrupt, divorced, unemployed or suicidal.

Yet lottery officials expressed no alarm. Instead, they’ve embarked on one of the agency’s most aggressive marketing efforts yet to increase play on the machines, considered by problem gambling experts to be among the most addictive forms of gambling on the planet.

Together, the findings and marketing plan paint a disturbing picture of a state agency knowingly — and increasingly — siphoning money away from a relatively small group of problem gamblers to pay for schools, parks, business development and other programs.

“It puts the government in the business of vice,” says Roger Humble, an addiction counselor who has treated more than 1,300 problem gamblers at the Bridgeway clinic in Salem. “We play them as suckers to help us pay our taxes.”

“Bled slowly”

The Oregon Lottery’s marketing plan declares that 2014 “will be a milestone year for Video Lottery,” with efforts to attract younger players and install new machines across the state.

It’s no wonder lottery officials are targeting video machines. The numbers tell the story:

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the lottery netted $856 million from all its games: Powerball, Megabucks, scratch tickets, Keno and video machines. A whopping $737 million -– 86 percent — came from video players.

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Lottery officials, along with state policymakers, have long known that addicted gamblers do more than their share to prop up state lottery revenues. What’s new is the state’s fervor in feeding their addiction.

The five-member state Lottery Commission last year approved spending $250 million over the next five years to replace the agency’s 12,000-plus video machines with state-of-the-art models. The first 3,000 machines are on order and could be in taverns, restaurants, strip clubs, bowling alleys and gambling-oriented “delis” in Portland and along the Interstate 5 corridor by late spring.

Created with help from math experts and neuroscientists, the machines are part of a new generation of electronic slots meant to attract younger customers used to playing arcade-style video games. They feature detailed color graphics and exotic names such as Golden Goddess and Shadow of the Panther.

But they’re all designed with one goal, says Natasha Dow Schüll, an anthropologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of “Addiction by Design,” a book about the link between video slots and compulsive gambling.

“They’re catering to the ones who want to zone out or escape,” Schüll says. “These machines are geared to provide that kind of experience.” The idea, Schüll says, is to lull players into a sense that they’re winning even as they slowly lose by returning 60 to 90 percent of the money they drop into the machines. “You don’t really notice that your money is going away,” she says. “As one industry designer told me, some gamblers like to be bled slowly.” 

In the Oregon Lottery’s case, gamblers fed a jaw-dropping $9.9 billion into the machines in fiscal 2013, according to lottery financial statements. They walked away with about $9.2 billion, a return rate of 93 percent. But that 7 percent loss represents a $1 billion boost to the state budget every two years — money that few are willing to walk away from, regardless of who pays it.

Problem gamblers pay a steep price and so does society, counselors say.

Addicts steal from their employers, from stores and from family members to get money to play, says Humble, the Bridgeway counselor. They wind up in trouble with the law or ostracized from their families. Often, they contract health problems, such as hypertension, that land them in the hospital.

“It’s incredible how going like this,” Humble says, mimicking the motion of pushing a slot machine button, “can create a monster.”


Slots push aside poker:

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Oregon Lottery leaders plan to increase profits from video games by $10 million, or 3 percent, in fiscal 2014. The focus clearly is on electronic slot games — “line games” that mimic slots. The games are shoving aside video poker as the game of choice.

The Mozak study shows 55 percent of players prefer line games, compared with 28 percent who prefer video poker. The remaining players divide their gambling time evenly.

The agency’s marketing plan calls for on-site advertising to bring in new players, lottery-sponsored events to teach newcomers how to play slot machines, and research into potential “mobile gaming” — think iPads in bars — as an extension to playing video slots.

The agency’s enthusiasm for the games worries mental health and addiction experts. Jeff Marotta, a nationally recognized consultant on problem gambling who lives in Portland, read the Mozak report and came away shaking his head.

“The most disturbing aspect of this study is that it is clearly focused on assisting the Oregon State Lottery to strategize ways to increase player volume,” Marotta said in an email. “I don’t believe a state agency should be aggressively pushing the public to participate in an activity that has well-documented risks associated with its addictive potential.” Marotta, who has consulted with the Oregon Lottery on problem gambling, said the recent voter rejection of a private casino in Gresham shows the public doesn’t want an expansion of gambling in the state.

“So why,” he asks, “has the lottery recently invested in research and advertising to promote a form of gambling that addicts more Oregonians than any other form of gambling?”

Les Bernal, an outspoken critic of state-run lotteries, puts it more bluntly.

“That’s a government program that’s consciously exploiting the addiction of its own citizens,” says Bernal, who heads the Washington, D.C.-based group Stop Predatory Gambling. “How many people are injured every year by the Oregon Lottery’s machines? Instead of stopping, they’re saying, ‘You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to bring in new machines.’ How incredible is that?”

Director denies findings:

The Oregon Lottery spends heavily to research nearly every aspect of its player base. Contracts with Mozak, the Texas firm that conducted the interviews of video players in bars, came to $275,000 alone.

As part of its research, Mozak also brought 130 gamblers into a room in Portland filled with video machines and closely studied their habits and preferences. Lottery officials rejected The Oregonian’s request to look at results from the study, citing a “trade secrets” exemption from state public records law.

Despite all the data, the lottery’s director either doesn’t understand or won’t acknowledge the extent to which the agency relies on problem gamblers for revenue.

In a lengthy interview with The Oregonian, lottery Director Larry Niswender defended the lottery’s practices and denied that the agency targets problem gamblers. He also disputed data showing that an outsize share of lottery revenue comes from a small group of players. He offered no explanation for Mosak’s finding that lone players gamble until they empty their wallets or purses.

“We’re operating under a framework set in the constitution, approved by voters,” said Niswender, who announced he is retiring from the lottery at the end of the month. Former state Labor Commissioner Jack Roberts takes over as director Dec. 1.

Voters overwhelmingly approved creating the lottery in 1984, Niswender said, and surveys show strong support today. And the whole point is to raise as much money as possible to substitute for tax increases, he said.

Niswender also pointed to a new responsible-gambling plan developed by lottery staff that will be implemented next year. The plan calls for the lottery to establish a “responsible gaming code of practice” but largely continues practices in place, such as clocks on game screens and prominent display of the 877-MYLIMIT help number for problem gamblers.

**To be fair here is the info from the “My Limit” website**

The Oregon Problem Gambling Helpline has been in operation since 2001 and is currently taking approximately 5,000 calls a year. Trained professional staff members are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen, educate, answer questions, and refer people to free confidential treatment services.

If you (or someone you know) are gambling too much, you can call the Oregon Problem Gambling Helpline and speak to a certified gambling counselor. All information shared is confidential and this service is FREE to Oregon residents.

Call the Helpline 1-877-695-4648 (My Limit) and speak with someone who can get you to the help you may need. Or text 503-713-6000.

All calls are free.
All calls are confidential.
Call anytime, 24 hours a day.

You are not alone. There is help, there is hope, and there is a way to get your life back on track.


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The lottery’s goal, Niswender said, “is to attract new players so we don’t have a few that play a lot, we have a lot playing a little.” He questioned lottery data showing the opposite.

“I have a hard time believing there’s a very small number of people generating what is probably between $12 million to $14 million a week in revenue,” Niswender said. “It’s got to be a broad diverse player base.”

But later, his research staff confirmed through lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann that the lottery’s video revenue does come from a small segment of players.

As far as the finding that most play alone, Niswender referred to surveys in which video players reported playing mainly for fun. “It’s to hang out with friends,” he said.

“Anything but a social thing”

A visit to just about anyplace with lottery video games offers a different view.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon at top grossing lottery outlets, people sat at the machines, quietly feeding in $5 and $20 bills.

At Ace Tavern on Northeast Sandy Boulevard, patron Amanda Elliot watched while two women who declined to give their names played slot machines in silence.

“Your focus is on the screen,” said Elliot, who rarely plays. “It’s anything but a social thing.”

Habitual players say they may go to casinos with friends, but they play Oregon Lottery alone.

“I have no interest in interacting with other people while I’m gambling,” says Kitty Martz of Northwest Portland, who recently completed a gambling treatment program. “I can’t stand to have someone even comment, ‘Looks like you’ve got a win there.’” She says she would wear a “gambling suit” that included ear buds to block outside noise and a scarf to hide her face.

Martz, 44, is a world traveler who once had a thriving home-remodeling business. Once she fell into the grip of video poker and slots, she started blowing through her and her now ex-husband’s life savings.

“A lot of people think it’s a tax on the stupid,” Martz says. “Really, we’re behaving exactly the way the machines want us to.”

A devil’s bargain

The lottery has always been something of a devil’s bargain, suggests Peter Bragdon, who helped lead a 1995 task force on state-run gambling. The task force, established by Gov. John Kitzhaber, issued a widely publicized report warning that the state was becoming overly dependent on money that came at least in part from gambling addicts.
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Years later, Bragdon was serving as chief of staff to then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who also served on the task force and helped write the report. The state was in the middle of a budget crisis, and “pressure was intense” to increase lottery profits, Bragdon said.

At the time, the state had video poker but not slots because of their addictive allure. First, the state loosened rules to allow six video poker machines per establishment instead of five. Then the governor decided to allow slot machines.

“It’s not pressure from gambling interests, it’s pressure from people who want to spend the money,” Bragdon says. “You’ve got the reality of getting people to play these games, but you’re also looking at a budget where you’ve got really vulnerable people losing medicine, losing shelter, school doors closing early.

“And you’ve got to make a choice.”

— Harry Esteve, The Oregonian

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**Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & ‘In Recovery Magazine’ Columnist**

 

 

 

The Oregonian Puts A Spotlight on Addicted and Problem Gambling With The Oregon Lottery: “Selling Addiction.”

The Oregonian Puts A Spotlight on Addicted and Problem Gambling With The Oregon Lottery: “Selling Addiction.”

“While researching data and facts last week for my week-long blogging for “The National Week Of Action Against Predatory Gambling” along with Les Bernal, my hardworking friend over at
Stop Predatory Gambling, I happen to come across a series that is written by  Senior Political reporter Harry Esteve on the Oregon Lottery and it’s called:   “Selling Addiction” series ….  
It is a very interesting series about how “The Oregon Lottery Offerings” have affected many Oregonians and their families.”


See, I lived in Southern Oregon for over 26 years before moving to Arizona in late 2013 and I to had  become addicted to the Oregon ‘Lotteries Video Poker/Slot Machines’ that were introduced back in 1991 and Keno way before that. If you have read my book “Addicted To Dimes,” then you know how that all turned out for me, NOT GOOD. Yes, I did also gamble at an Indian Casino 40 miles North of my home, but it was the slot machines by the Oregon Lottery that fueled my gambling addiction most times because of access.  They are everywhere!!

I could walk across the street to the bar and gamble, walk up a block and there were 3 more lottery retailers with machines I could gamble on. And so on. I was gambling 2 to 4 times a day at my worst of my addiction. In turn, I attempted suicide twice and blessed I failed. But many others were not AS fortunate. as I. This series will share much of that as well  .  .  .  .

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Harry Esteve | hesteve@oregonian.com
By Harry Esteve | hesteve@oregonian.com
on December 06, 2013 at 8:07 AM.

Oregon Lottery: Readers continue sharing stories of bankruptcy, shame, despair…

The Oregonian invited readers to share Oregon Lottery experiences in a questionnaire. We published dozens of their stories as part of our “Selling Addiction” series, and that led to even more submissions. Here are some of the latest to come in. Because of the personal nature of comments, many asked that their names be withheld all or in part.

Portland,OR woman, 52

Have you ever won a big prize?

I won $1,500 on Big 5 when it first came out. I think that was the beginning of my slide into problem gambling.

When you play, do you sometimes feel you have a problem stopping even though you know you should?

Yes, my mother gave me some money and instead of going to my bank I spent it gambling. It made me feel bad, remorseful, stupid — all the names one could call themselves.

Has your life been affected by gambling?

Yes, it has impacted relationships and my ability to save for retirement. It has caused me to come close to lying which is something I never do and to spend money I should not be spending. It is sneaky and insidious when you get the gambling bug. I’m an educated women and I feel like I should know better but when I start it is hard to stop. I do not like the person I have become since I have become addicted and I struggle every day with fighting the urge. I worry about my future.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

The Oregon Lottery management has no vested interest in helping gamblers and is only interested in hitting targets, etc., and how to hook more gamblers. I feel like they do everything in their power with ads, putting signs outside buildings that I have to see everywhere I drive which tempt people like me, to hook and retain problem gamblers. The lottery should have an overseeing agency to put them into check.

For example, the lottery should not be allowed to advertise on buses/TV/papers nor put its signage outside business establishments. They have an obligation to help the very people they purposefully attracted. Ten percent of their revenues should be dedicated to problem addicts and making help/programs more accessible in better parts of town. But they don’t want to treat the problem gamblers because if they do, they will lose the very people they depend upon. Oregon should have never gone down this slippery slope.

Beaverton, OR man, 33

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

$100 to $400.

What do you enjoy about playing lottery games?

They are fun to play, and they are very addictive. The thrill of possibly winning big is what keeps me playing.

Have you ever won a big prize?

I have won $800 and $600 and won a couple of times of $400-500. I hit the max credit and won twice, and that is a wonderful feeling. Losing that much is the exact opposite.

Have you ever lost more than you could afford?

I have always paid my bills on time, but I have lost a lot of money to the point where I could have paid off my bills rather than just making the monthly payment to stay current. I have used cash advances on some credit cards but have then paid them off only to do the same thing over and over again.

When you play, do you sometimes feel you have a problem stopping even though you know you should?

For sure! I can sit at a machine for hours drinking and playing, going back and forth from the machine to the ATM and back. I think that I’ll just pop into the bar on the way home from work as the wife won’t be home for another hour or so and play 40 bucks. Three hours later and a couple of lies, and you head back home down $300. You go in there thinking, “I can win $300” only to lose the very $300 you were trying to win and MORE!

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

Never have sought help. Currently trying to coach myself to quit, but it is very hard, knowing I can be at a machine within 10 to 15 minutes, sometimes less, from just about anywhere in this state. I think typing this out is a big step for me: To admit to myself that I do have a problem but with the hope to correct the problem.

Has your life been affected by problem gambling?

For sure. The amount of money I have wasted playing these highly addictive and expensive video games would total over $15,000 over the past 12 years, with the most damage coming in the past five years. Could have paid off several bills sooner than I did. Could have all that money saved for a down payment on a home or in an IRA. Have lied to others about where I have been and what I was doing. Wake up the next morning with the worst feeling I have ever had. A feeling of remorse and regret and shame. Feelings that humans should not have to feel from a “game” or “entertainment.”

Do you think the benefits from Oregon Lottery revenues — to schools, parks and such — outweigh the harm caused by problem gambling?

I get that the “State” benefits from a small population of the state, but I believe that there are other ways to get money for schools and parks and feel that this is a problem that the majority of people don’t ever speak about so the numbers are probably higher than reported. My short answer is NO.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I believe that for myself and my family that if these machines weren’t in the bars and delis, then I would not be gambling. It’s that simple for me. That may sound like an excuse but “out of sight is out of mind.” Spirit Mountain and Chinook Winds are quite a drive. It’s certainly not right around the corner but you know what is?? About 15 to 25 bars on my way home from work.

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Mike Burton, 72, Vancouver, OR

I served in the Oregon House of Representatives 1985-1995. I made several attempts to curb the lottery in 1985 and then video lottery in 1991.

My objection to video poker is three-fold:

1. The easy access just makes it easier for problem players to lose.

2. The losers, as your article’s point out, are those who can least afford to lose. We knew this in 1991; no one listened. Then-Senate President Kitzhaber (after I had the expansion bill stopped in the House) came down from his podium and made an impassioned plea to pass the bill, saying there were no problems.

3. Worse, it creates a false economy. That is, there is very little created in the way of “new” money or jobs, it simply shifts the money around and the state becomes the addict here, depending on its revenues to fill the budget and always being hungry for more. This avoids the real debate about fees and taxes because lottery winnings are a “tax” on someone else — a stupid tax.


Vancouver man, 65

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

$200-$2,000

Have you ever won a big prize?

Oh, yeah, that’s part of compulsive gambling, winning the big one and giving it all back and then some.

Have you ever lost more than you could afford?

I have enough money and can afford to lose big, but it isn’t about the money. It becomes a living lie of deceit, deception and not facing up to one’s problem.

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

I have. I regularly attend GA meetings and work the 12 steps “day by day.” It has helped, at least yesterday and hopefully today!

Has your life been affected by problem gambling?

Yes, the self-deception and lying to oneself about the problem have been tough to overcome. I’m a college-educated, smart guy. I have a great job and earn $150,000 per year. The people who work for me and with me respect me. I am well-known in my community for my work with youth baseball. Yet, when it came to gambling, I didn’t have the sense of a goat. I couldn’t stop until I’d maxed my daily withdrawal on my cash advances. The only way I’m beating this is “day-to-day.”

Do you think the benefits from Oregon Lottery revenues — to schools, parks and such — outweigh the harm caused by problem gambling?

No, the state should realize the lottery is nothing more than a regressive tax. The majority of those who lose can’t afford to lose. I see it at my GA meetings week in and week out. “I got paid from my job waiting tables and lost it all. … How am I going to pay my bills?” It’s ugly, real ugly. But, as I am a compulsive gambler, the state, too, is hooked on it. The fact that more up-to-date slots are coming speaks volumes. The state will continue to bleed those addicts dry and will create another generation of them.

Gail, 66, Tigard, OR

How long have you played Lottery games in Oregon?

I seldom play; it’s my 85-year-old mother who has a gambling addiction.

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

She’s lost, as far as we can calculate, around a quarter of a million dollars in the last 10 to 15 years.

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

She did seek counseling a few years ago. Until they said they were being “shut down” due to lack of funds. It didn’t do any good, anyway. She lied to us and to the counselors.

Do you know other people who have a problem with gambling?

I just know that my mother’s problem is really sick and sad and disgusting. And it’s really caused a major problem in our family. I should mention, her gambling has gotten much worse since the death of my dad eight years ago.

Beaverton woman, 41

How long have you played Lottery games in Oregon?

I have played scratch-off tickets since I was about 10 years old. My parents would buy them for me and cash them in if we won anything. I began playing Keno when I was a teenager in restaurants with my parents. I began playing video lottery machines when I was 25, and I have had a gambling problem since I was 26.

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Where do you typically play?

I will play anywhere that has a video poker machine if I am by myself. Nobody talks to each other. There are people who will use the ATM repeatedly and hit the buttons on the machines in frustration when they are losing their money. I will often find a bar or restaurant downtown near my workplace and play on my lunch breaks. It was always the same people playing when I arrived, who appeared to be workers downtown also.

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

I have lost an entire paycheck the day I was paid within a matter of 90 minutes. If I begin gambling, I will spend as much cash as I have on me. As soon as I’m started, I am completely out of control.

What do you enjoy about playing lottery games?

Nothing anymore. It is fun to win until you play because you have to win. I gamble infrequently compared to as much as I did six months ago. Six months ago, I was playing before work because Maddy’s opened at 7 a.m., playing on lunch breaks at bars downtown and playing on my way home.

Have you ever won a big prize?

I won two $2,500 jackpot prizes in two days. I have won a third $2,500 jackpot and another $1,500 jackpot. There are countless times I would win $500 over an initial investment of $60 or less. It was a rush to see them count out all of those $20 bills on the bar and being unable to close my wallet. It was a rush to live recklessly with financial abandon with my winnings for a day or two after winning.

Have you ever lost more than you could afford?

I have a discharged Chapter 7 bankruptcy from multiple payday loans, maxed out credit cards and overdraft checking account fees. I’ve been sued multiple times for failing to repay obligations. The rest of my family is very financially responsible. I haven’t told anyone that I’ve been bankrupted. I feel like a liar and a cheat like I would be a complete embarrassment to my parents, and despite a college education and a very good job, I feel like I am the biggest idiot to ever come out of my gene pool.

When you play, do you sometimes feel you have a problem stopping even though you know you should?

I closed my bank account and cut up my ATM card. If I had access to any more cash, I would spend it. If I ran out of all resources, I would use a hot check and get a payday loan to cover basic expenses, sometimes to gamble more. At one time, I was juggling five payday loans at once, using one to pay off another, re-borrowing to pay off another — it was a vicious cycle.

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

1-877-MYLIMIT (The Oregon Lottery Help Line) – is honestly a complete joke. Many of the programs they referred me to serve criminal clientele as well, so you feel like even more of a lowlife for having a problem. Most of the programs they referred me to in the Portland area did not return my calls seeking treatment. I sought the help of a psychiatrist, who put me on the prescription drug Naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist, hoping to change the reward structure in my brain so that I could somehow find gambling less exciting. I completed an intensive outpatient mental health program through ‘Kaiser Permanente’ four months ago after completing a bankruptcy and suffering from suicidal ideation.

Has your life been affected by problem gambling?

My life has been affected in every way by problem gambling. I tell half-truths or even bald-faced lies to my friends and family about my whereabouts or my finances. I’m nearly 30; I do not live on my own because I haven’t been able to afford to, I’m bankrupt, and I have difficulty meeting my basic needs. I feel like I have to start my adulthood completely over again and learn better financial habits due to the wreck that the Oregon Lottery has helped me to make out of my life.

Do you think the benefits from Oregon Lottery revenues — to schools, parks and such — outweigh the harm caused by problem gambling?

No. I think the Oregon Lottery should be shut down as soon as possible. There is nothing good that can come out of it. The devastation it causes people should not be used for revenue by the government. The justification — providing schoolchildren with materials they need or providing medicine to the poor and ill — should not be any type of excuse for this type of pain and devastation. Oregon is in the business of ruining lives.

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“I feel like a liar and a cheat” Now this statement from this person interviewed for this article is exactly the way I FELT when I gambled addictively. And is why I added it to the Title of MY Book/Memoir. I did FEEL like a Liar and a Cheat!  That is what Compulsive Gambling Addiction turned me into, a liar and a cheat.

It was my way of taking accountability and ownership of all my “Character Defect and to those, I had HURT  within my addiction.” So that statement she made was powerful to me when I read it. I will be sharing much of this series all week & weekend long . . . .

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Author & Recovery Columnist,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon


Product Details

( Ebook now on sale for 3.10! )
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“How does a Good Girl Go Bad? Based on the author’s true life story and experiences told in the author’s own words, without polish or prose, a haunting tale of gambling addiction, dark family secrets, living with undiagnosed PTSD, and much more. She has overcome, she has triumphed in recovery one day at a time. So read this woman’s remarkable brave story!”


Honoring Bobby Hafemann’s Memory and Ronda Hatefi and Family. What Life is Like Today Without Bobby. . .

Honoring Bobby Hafemann’s Memory and Ronda Hatefi and Family. What Life is Like Today Without Bobby. . .

Today I close out the “National Week of Action Against Predatory Gambling on a personal note. I am shining the spotlight on a family that has been through heartbreak and know very well what it is like to lose a brother, son, uncle, and on. His name is Bobby Hafemann. . . . .

Ronda has had to describe many times over through the years about what happened when Bobby decided the only option he had to stop his addiction to gambling was to take his own life. Bobby became addicted to the Oregon Lottery Video Poker machines that went on-line in 1991. And to me? This is heartbreaking.  He was failed by many before he died after talking with Ronda at length a few weeks back. Ronda and her family desperately looked for ways to get Bobby help from Gamblers Anonymous, support groups and out-patient treatment which he was attending until Oregon pulled it, possible due to not enough funding yet from the profits of the Lottery. His treatment therapist just suggested he go to a psychologist or psychiatrist for help. AGAIN, they all were failed. Professionals didn’t really know how to treat a person with addicted compulsive gambling at that time.

So today, I wanted to share how Ronda and her family are doing today, today now that Bobby has been gone for over twenty years. So asked her to write this ‘Guest Post’ so I could share it to keep Bobby’s memory of a life taken to soon from this cunning addiction and disease. We as addicted gamblers deep within the worst of our gambling don’t know what we are doing to those we love and others around us. I want to say thank you to Ronda for all the tireless hard work she and her family puts in each year to help others, advocate, raise awareness and keep Bobby Hafemann’s memory ALIVE. Yes, it is long but very worth the read for an in-depth look at what a family goes through when losing a loved one from the disease of gambling addiction .  .  .  .

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* How Gambling Changed My Life! ~ Guest Author & Advocate Ronda Hatefi *

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Ronda Hatefi
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“July 22, 1995, a day that changed my life forever. Not only mine but the life of my parents, siblings children and extended family as well.”

That is the day I got a call that my brother and best friend was found with a gunshot to his head. Bobby was 28-year-old, he was the 4th of 5 children in our family. I was the 5th. Bobby and I were both diagnosed with Epilepsy when we were young, Bobby was having constant seizures during the day and ended up having to repeat second grade. That meant we were in the same grade from my 2nd-grade year through high school.

We became each other’s best friend and at times worst enemy. We ALWAYS had each other’s back no matter what. We truly did everything together, his friends were my friends and vice versa. School was always hard for Bobby; he struggled with almost everything, not because he wasn’t smart enough to do but because it took time away from things he thought were more important. He loved to work, he loved to make money. He mowed lawns and delivered papers at a very young age. He loved to be able to do things for others, he loved to give gifts.

He quit school in high school, which Mom and Dad allowed him to do with the condition that he had to take and pass his GED. He did that and got a job. He worked here in Eugene, Oregon where we grew up until Mom and Dad moved to Portland. He decided to move there too and got a great job working at a Steel Mill making about $45,000 a year. That was great money for a single guy, but it came at a price. The hours were rough, 3pm to 1am 4 days a week. So he went to work just a little while before Dad and our other brother E J got home. They were all in bed long before he got off work. So to unwind after work he started going to a bowling alley just for fun. A cool place to meet people and have a beer before coming home and crawling into bed. This was fine for a while, but in late 1991 video poker was introduced. It was a quick hook for Bobby, he could play for awhile, and walk away with winnings. But it didn’t take long for it to become a little more important than sleep, it became something he had to do, not wanted to do.

Fast forward now just a few years. I watched my brother become someone I didn’t know. He withdrew from family functions, he was irritable, he was always broke. He was borrowing money from everyone he could but tried hard to pay people back. He started selling things, hawking important items, and not paying people back, which meant he just avoided us even more. Things that had always been important to him weren’t anymore. He was sad. He wrote a bad check to my parents, which meant he needed to move out, focus his money, time and attention to other things again. That is what we thought we could do to help him. He knew he couldn’t afford to gamble anymore, he just would quit….right?

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It isn’t that easy. We had many late night talks, crying together about how hard it was for him. When the State is telling you this is entertainment, why doesn’t it feel fun? Why can’t I stop? Feeling so bad about the people he didn’t pay back. It is heart wrenching to watch someone you love so much be in so much pain and not understand how to help fix it. I wish over and over that I could have a do-over on those nights. I wish I could stand up for him, to hold his hand through this process of healing that I have done many times in the past 21 years. I know he would stand with me if he could. I am proud to have shared his story and help others. Sometimes I feel angry that it wasn’t him that I helped. I go to his grave and talk to him about it. I ask him for strength and ask him to be with those who are struggling here. I don’t know really what I would do if one of the gamblers I have helped succeeded at suicide. I think about it, and wonder if I could get through that pain again. I wasn’t sure I was going to get through it the first time.

I will walk you through that horrible day that we got the call. My family and my husband, my 6-year-old daughter, and 18-month-old son were all getting ready to go to Portland to surprise Bobby at his company picnic. We were getting things ready in a leisurely way, enjoying the morning. The phone rang, I answered, it was my brother E J and all he said was, “Can I talk to Darren.”  I don’t know why or how I knew but at that moment, I knew I lost Bobby. I screamed. I don’t remember that, but I was told the neighbors heard and rushed over. My body trembled, I remember my husband trying to hold me down, hold my body still. My daughter was crying because I was scaring her. I have no idea how long it took to get loaded, I have no idea what was loaded, I just know we were at my sister’s house.

Then her family, as well as my other brother and his family could travel together to my parent’s house in Portland. I don’t remember the ride other than reading my bible out loud, I’m not sure what I read. Seeing my parents in their driveway was one of the worst feelings in the world. To see the pain in them, I can’t imagine what was going through their heads. My Dad and my 2 nephews rode their bikes to Bobby’s apartment to surprise him that morning, and when he didn’t answer they asked the apartment manager to let them in. That is how Bobby was found, no parent should ever have to witness that. They think he had been gone for 2 days.

Why didn’t someone hear the gun shot?
Why didn’t a neighbor seem to notice he wasn’t in and out?
Why did he have to lay there alone for 2 days?
Would he have survived if he was found sooner?

These are all questions that I think about still. I wish I could have been there for him, he had my number written in his notebook but he never called. WHY!
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That night we all sat and tried to console each other. We talked about what went wrong. We thought about Bobby and told stories. I didn’t sleep at all, I cried all night. I wrote him a 9-page letter telling him that I missed him. That I loved him, maybe more than he realized. That I would have been there if he just called. I told him that I forgave him, that I didn’t understand why he did it, but I forgave him. I remember my brother-in-law coming into the dining room where I was in a puddle on the floor sobbing and trying to get me to go to bed. I didn’t want to bother anyone so I thought I sitting in the dining room would be the best place.

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The next day a few people went to Bobby’s to clean up the mess. I couldn’t go. I felt so bad but I couldn’t help, I just couldn’t do it. I wanted his “stuff” just anything that had his smell. I brought home his tennis shoes, his clothes, and other things just to have a piece of him. My parents later let me have his rings and his hat. I didn’t want anyone else to put his hat on their head. It is funny the things that were important to me.

We got a call from his work saying they had heard, and they were sorry. We got a call from 7-11 saying that he was in earlier in the week, they had fronted him his paycheck so if we could please bring his check to them when we got it that would be great. We had to start making funeral plans, canceling things like his phone, electric, truck payments, and credit cards. None of this was easy. We moved Bobby’s truck to Mom and Dad’s so it wasn’t at the apartment, and every time we looked out we thought he was home. It was so hard seeing it, he loved his truck. We called and asked the bank to come get it, we needed it gone. They couldn’t do that until he was 3 months behind on payments. I finally called and told them that if they didn’t come and get it we would park it somewhere and they would have to find it. That was the hardest part for my Mom was seeing that out front. They did finally come get it, but it took way to long. The phone company was the other hard one to deal with, they wouldn’t disconnect the line without his permission. I finally told them that when they got a hold of him to please let him know I had a few questions myself.

We had his service in Portland, we all worked to make it the way he would have wanted it. We all went to pick out Bobby’s casket and decided to put it in a cement vault too.

We were all numb, I don’t remember much about any of that. I don’t remember the funeral really either. I do remember his girlfriend at the time coming from Bend to stay with us. She let us hear the messages he left her, oh my goodness. He was crying for help, he begged her to help him. He told her he had a gun to his head. I think it was 5 different messages, and she did nothing. She talked to him once and thought she talked him out of it. She didn’t bother calling my parents, the police or anyone. She just didn’t think he would do it. I asked her so many questions that night my sister made me stop. I just wanted to know everything. She was the last one to talk to him, I wanted to know every single thing he said. She helped us with funeral plans a little. I know he loved her, I wanted to be fair.

“My Mom wrote on his death certificate, suicide thanks to the Oregon State Lottery.”

The paper could not print it that way, but they did call us and asked us if they could do a story. We did. Our lives changed. We were not alone in our lack of understanding about gambling addiction. After the story ran in the Oregonian we received 2 phone calls on my parents’ answering machine in Portland. One was a man who thought Bobby was right, that was the only way to escape this terrible addiction, and he was later arrested for trying to jump from a bridge in Portland.

And the other from a very distraught gambler who had lost his wife, kids and was near suicide when his Mom called him and made him come read our story. I called both men back, didn’t reach the first one of course, but did talk to the second one. His Mom and Dad joined our fight and has been a part of everything we have done since. It took him awhile to get it all together, but he has. He is remarried, reconnected with his kids and living a gambling free life for 15 years now. We are very close to his whole family and so grateful that he was able to recover from his struggle and live the life he deserves.

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(Bobby Hafemann of Oregon was only 28-years old when he passed due to gambling.)
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I needed to understand what Bobby was feeling, I wanted to know every last thought he had and I wanted to know why a machine could take him away from me. I called a Gamblers Anonymous hotline number, the same one Bobby called, and on the other end was whooping and hollering with a man saying: he was out gambling, he slipped and couldn’t even help himself so he couldn’t help anyone else either. I left a message; he did call me back and apologize for the message but did give me some insight. I called our local treatment place in Eugene, I talked to a counselor who was very nice to talk to me and invite me to a meeting so I could sit in and listen to their words to see if it helped me.

In return, I had to tell my story to try to help them. As I was listening to the gamblers stories, a gambler had spoken almost word for word a part of Bobby’s suicide note. It hit me hard then, and it still hits me hard today. By far one of the hardest part of me telling Bobby’s story. Bobby wrote that he felt like a ghost that no one could see or hear. He wanted to be a ghost so others wouldn’t see him. We were such a close loving family, that to hear he felt like a ghost rips my heart out. I never wanted him to feel alone, how could he, we were always here for him, we wanted nothing more than for him to come back to our family as his old self. I sent him notes from me, and my kids on a weekly basis. His other nieces and nephews wrote him notes and drew him pictures to hang on his fridge. He was very loved and very much an important part of our family.

After the funeral, we all came to Eugene, we had him buried where my parent’s plots are. We had a little service there too, for all our Eugene family. I remember having so many dreams about him, some he was crying and saying he was sorry. Some asking me to give messages to others. He wanted me to know it wasn’t his girlfriend’s fault. He wanted me to tell my Mom he loved her and appreciated her help and support. He would sit on my bed and tell me that I was going to be ok, that he was ok. I would beg him to come back, and he would tell me that I knew he couldn’t but he loved me. I would hear gunshots but never see his face. It was just a couple of years ago that I was able to ask my brother for details about the gun, what it did to Bobby’s face and if he thought Bobby suffered, and why nobody heard the shot.

Those are things I always wanted to know but it is so hard to ask. I’m only one of 5 siblings remember, so I know they have hard days too and I didn’t want to ask things that would be hard for them to answer. I am so thankful for my brother Harvey who was my rock then and still is today. He has supported everything I have done since day one. We all dealt with the grief differently. 2 of my sisters’ boys were there when he was found so she had them to take care of. My other brother’s kids were out of the State with their Mom when it happened and they lived with Uncle Bobby for years, so were very close to him. E J was very angry with Bobby for doing that to his kids. I don’t blame him, explaining to our kids what happened was the worst! For years my Son would ask, “Mommy, tell me again why did Uncle Bobby have to die?”

My daughter had terrible nightmares for years. She wrote an incredible story for school her freshman year about how she remembers those days. I find it interesting that I can tell you this part of the story. I really don’t remember much of the first year he passed other than what I did for him. I remember crying at night because I didn’t know if I fed my kids that day, or if I took my daughter to school, or bathed my son. I didn’t write a thing in their baby books for a year. I know I would go to my other brothers’ house a lot because I knew his wife would take care of my kids. About a year after Bobby passed I remember looking in the mirror and not really recognizing me, my hair was really short, I gained a lot of weight, I wasn’t taken care of. And I didn’t care. I was just hoping I was taking care of my kids. My main focus was really just to learn as much as we could from others, and help others by telling our story.

My Mom and I got a call from the Maury Povich show, which we were flown to New York to record a taping of an episode. We did a news story for a station in Seattle WA, Dad and I went to the National Conference in South Dakota one year so I could speak on a panel, which I have done now a few times. We have spoken at Churches, in Schools, at the Capitol building in Salem, Oregon, at Lottery commission meetings, and many other places. There have been times in my life when I think I need to be done, I am not making a difference, I am tired of fighting and getting nowhere. About that time, I will get a phone call from somewhere across the United States from someone who found my information on the web and they just need to talk to someone.

They thought I would listen. And I do. I am not a counselor, I do not have certified training to be one, but I can listen and give them ideas on how to find help. It is very important to me to make sure each person I talk to feels supported, not alone. I want them to know they have loved ones who want nothing more than to help and support them through this even though they have done things they can’t even believe. I know that first step has to be so hard, but they can do it. I am very proud that the Oregon Proclamation has been renewed every year since we started. It is a starting point, it is something that shows whether or not they want to deal with it, our Government knows we have a problem in our State of Oregon. I am proud of what we have done with “Gambling Awareness Day” each Sept 29th. From family gatherings, sending balloons with messages to the sky the first year to going national, 20 States, 2 Countries and over 100 Actions taking place last year.

We have rallied on the State Capitol steps, even having one of the Governor assistants reading our proclamation to the crowd of people. I am so excited to see where we can go with our TAKE A BREAK campaign. It is just another way to reach out. My goal is the same today as it was 21 years ago, to reach out to those who are struggling, who don’t understand what is happening from gambling and to the families who are frustrated and don’t know how to help. I want them all to know they are not alone; they have people who are standing up and being the voice when they cannot speak about it. I have a few people who have been by my side for many years, some in prevention and many in the treatment field who have said to me, “I hope that one day you will put me out of work.”

Their hearts are in the right place, they are doing what they can do to HELP others. I know it has been said by others that they need problem gamblers so they can keep their jobs. I hope one day I can put them out of work too! What I have learned from this whole experience is that sometimes we are called to do things that we had no idea we were capable of doing. It is with hard work, dedication, determination and a lot of support from the connections I have made to keep me moving forward. I want my kids to know that just because something is hard, doesn’t make it ok to quit. That is how we find out who we are, and how strong we can be!

Thank you, Catherine, for letting me tell this side of my story, It is something I haven’t done. It is hard to think that I took that much time away from my kids, not to mention my husband. My sister would tell me often, this is too hard on you, you need to stop telling this story. I really can’t imagine life without Bobby, and the only way I know how to keep him close is by telling HIS STORY.

I have his hat hanging on my wall with his picture. I wear his ring every day. I still have a shirt of his that I wear when I need a hug. I miss him every day. I think about what he would be like today, how much he would love my kids and grandkids. His girlfriend at the time still calls and we talk, she has a daughter now but isn’t very happy in her marriage. When my Mom passed on Mother’s Day last year, it made me smile to know she was able to be with ALL of her kids on Mother’s Day, she missed Bobby so much too. I can only imagine the big smiles on their faces when they were together again in Heaven!


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OGAO – Oregonians for Gambling Awareness Organization

The OGAO was founded by Ronda Hatefi, who lost her brother Bobby Hafemann in 1995 to suicide related to his problems with gambling. Bobby was only 28 years old.

Ronda commemorates Bobby’s birthday every year on September 29 through Problem Gamblers Awareness Day. She also chairs the Lane County Problem Gambling Advisory Committee.

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In closing, I have to say I have been very blessed to have met Ronda and am Honored each year to help her in her quest to raise awareness through Bobby’s Memory and tragic story. I wish and I pray for her and her family that they keep all those beautiful special memories of Bobby deep in their hearts. But as we both know, advocating shares HOPE to others and hopefully save lives from the disease of Gambling Addiction.

God Bless All,

Author & Recovery Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
“National Week of Action Against For-Profit Predatory Gambling.”

 

 

Meet Ronda Hatefi and How She is Advocating About Gambling Addiction with “The Take a Break Campaign & Day of Awareness”

“Ronda Hatefi and her family work tirelessly to raise awareness about problem gambling and gambling addiction. WHY? Because she lost her brother, Bobby Hafemann to this disease by suicide. Ronda does this through the help of “Prevention Lane” a program through Lane County Public Health in Oregon. It is a Day of Awareness for those who Gamble to just “Take A Break!” So, here is more about her campaign and how she advocates.”

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TAKE A BREAK CAMPAIGN:


OUR MISSION:

Problem Gamblers Awareness Day/ Day of Action Against Predatory Gambling’s purpose in “Take a Break Campaign” is to reach out to gamblers and family members to check in to make sure they are in control and gambling responsibly.

OUR GOALS:

• To offer an opportunity for businesses that offer gambling to show they care for their customer base.
• To offer family members and friends a way to start a conversation about responsible gambling.
• To reach out with our helpline information and offer hope and help to those who are unable to take a break.

WHO WE ARE:


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Ronda Hatefi, founder of Oregonians for Gambling Awareness Organization. I have been married 30 years, have 2 grown children and 2 granddaughters. Both of my children have graduated college, are working in their professions and are married. I am very proud of them and their accomplishments. They both grew up knowing my passion for helping others with gambling addiction.

I lost my brother, Bobby, 21 years ago after he took his life due to gambling addiction. I have worked since then to speak HOPE and HELP to gamblers and their families. I have been to many conferences, have spoken many places including New York, Washington DC, South Dakota and Oregon, as well as taken part in 3 documentaries (South Korea, California, and France).

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We have had our Oregon Governor sign a proclamation every year declaring September 29th as Problem Gamblers Awareness Day since 1997. Last year being the 20th anniversary of Bobby’s death, we took our Awareness day National. We are working with others across our Country to spread the message of HOPE AND HELP, as well as speaking the truth about how State sponsored gambling is a bad public policy and doesn’t bring only good things to our States.

The work I have done for 21 years has all been volunteer, I believe in what I am doing. I have partnered with some amazing people, Lane County Prevention Team, STOP Predatory Gambling, Voices of Problem Gamblers, and others. I feel it is important to work as a team to do the best work for the gamblers in our State.

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September 29, 2016 – Problem Gamblers Awareness Day in Oregon



HOW CAN YOU HELP?

First, click on the blue link above and READ all that Ronda is doing in conjunction with Lane County Public Health Prevention Team through the “Problem Gambling Awareness & Take A Break” campaign. As many other organizations too like “Stop Predatory Gambling – Les Bernal,” and others listed below are Joining In!

You can help spread the word by a REBLOG today, Friday and Sat…. through Oct 1st 2016! I know Ronda and I would appreciate the SUPPORT!!

And lastly:

Like other addictions, the compulsion to gamble can become the main priority of a person’s life. When this happens the emotional and financial upheavals are devastating. Often, the family is just as impacted by this devastation as the gambler. According to prevalence studies conducted by the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling, problem gambling affects approximately 80,000 adult Oregonians. For those entering treatment last year, the Oregon Health Authority estimates their combined debt related to gambling at more than $31 million.

Key events locally include the “Take A Break” campaign and Bridgeway Recovery Walk & Run.

In Oregon, treatment for problem gamblers and their loved ones is free and confidential and provided through Oregon Lottery revenues; those interested in seeking help may call the 24-hour help line at 1-877-MY-LIMIT (877-695-4648).

For more information about Awareness Day, contact Ronda Hatefi: ogao.ronda@gmail.com

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” Author, Recovery Columnist, and Gambling Recovery Advocate ~ Catherine Lyon ”