“Problem Gambling Awareness Month” My Guest Is Vegas Judy. “What If You Live In Las Vegas?”


WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A RECOVERING GAMBLER LIVING IN LAS VEGAS.
by JUDY G.

MEET, VEGAS JUDY!

 

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This is about two aspects of me – my evolution as a compulsive and then recovering gambler – and my growing fascination and compulsion to be in Las Vegas. Intertwined?Yes. But also distinct and separate. What I mean by that is: If gambling didn’t exist in Las Vegas, would I still want to live here? Yes.

However, since gambling does exist here, would I want to live anywhere else? No.

Now, back to the beginnings:

My childhood years certainly didn’t include this yearning to be in Las Vegas. But I guess I always had yearnings – and in those days, it was to live in the Golden State – California. I  spent the first 8 years of my life exclusively in California – mainly Lodi and Woodland. But when I was 9, my father “re-upped” and went back into the Air Force, and shortly after that, he was sent to Korea.

In Fifth Grade, I went to four different schools, including one in Texas and one in Virginia. This was the beginning of my Air Force brat experiences, and at the same time, I began thinking that “everything would be perfect” if I could just be with my friends in California. So I always had that propensity to think the “grass was greener” somewhere else.

I started living in a sort of “escape fantasy land” whenever real life got too rough. Since most of our relatives lived in California, no matter where we were stationed in the U.S., we usually made a road trip back to the Golden State at least once – usually during the summer. Quite often, these trips would take us through Las Vegas, where often we’d stop and spend the night. During those early years, I never thought about gambling, of course. It was strictly an adult playland then.

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I was mostly aware of the celebrities who might be lounging around the pools or perhaps wandering in the casinos. I remember once being in a casino with my parents and hearing “Paging Mr. Belafonte, Mr. Harry Belafonte.” This was heady stuff for a movie-star-struck young girl. If my parents went to see a show at night, my sister and I didn’t mind. We’d stay at our motel, go swimming in the pool that was usually opened all night, and have fun on our own. I do remember seeing the “fantasyland” aspects of the Strip, such as it was, back in those days; such as the camels in front of the Sahara, the Sultan in front of the Dunes. But that’s all Las Vegas was to me then – a convenient stop on our way to my “mecca”, California.

As far as gambling, I had literally no experience or feeling about it one way or the other. Ironically, we were stationed in Wiesbaden Germany when I was 17, and my first “job” was giving out change for the small bank of slot machines in the Officer’s Club (the General Von Steuben). This was a pretty boring job. Hardly anyone spent much time in that little space.

I do, however, remember one woman who was pretty much a “regular,”  She started out feeding quarters into one particular machine and would stand there for hours, having drinks and hitting several jackpots, but by the end of the evening, there she was, slightly weaving, by now barefoot (there were no stools for the gamblers then, and those high heels got too tricky to stand in after awhile and after a few drinks) and her winnings had long gone back into the machine. I remember thinking how stupid and boring the whole thing was. (Little did I know that I was to become that woman one day).

My next exposure to gambling was back in Las Vegas. My first husband and I had (not surprisingly) gone to Vegas for our honeymoon.  In those days, there were no video poker machines, and I didn’t know how to play any “table games of chance”, so I just put a few quarters in the single reel slot machine and I might get lucky and win the “jackpot” – $25.

My second husband and I also went to Las Vegas on our honeymoon. He has the dubious honor of being the one who taught me how to play 21.  After winning a small jackpot on a machine, he suggested taking my winnings and playing blackjack. Of course, we had our Beginners’ Luck there, and that became my new favorite game, and a reason to escape to Vegas whenever I could talk him into it…

By the end of our marriage, we were two full-blown alcoholics, but he was happy to do his drinking every night in front of the TV set.  I, on the other hand, wanted the action and excitement and fantasy of Las Vegas!

 

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One night I got into an argument with him and ended up taking off in my car.  I was picked up by the police somewhere near Ontario, California, heading to L.A., yet I told the police I was driving to Vegas.  The fact that I had my housedress on and was drunk might have alerted the police to the veracity of my statement, and I spent that night in jail.  Toward the end of my second marriage, I had met my third husband-to-be, who was temporarily my “escape companion”.  Why not? He had no job, no ties.  Why wouldn’t he hook up with this crazy alcoholic who had a car, and all she asked of him was to drive her to Vegas.

When we’d first arrive, I would hit the tables and eventually pass out– sometimes in the casino (where I had to be carried to the room) – and sometimes waited til I was in the room. Inevitably, the next day I’d be suffering a mighty hangover and severe pangs of regret and guilt, and we’d morosely head back to the disapproving situation at home. Sometime in 1986, I had stopped drinking (after it quit working for me, and I had become suicidal).

Everyone predicted that I would want to leave my “companion” who was 14 years younger than I, a drug addict and unemployed. But I insisted that we were “in love” and it didn’t matter if he continued to use and I had stopped; love would conquer all. We probably WOULD have split up, if it hadn’t been that I got pregnant (surprise!) at age 45, so now we had to stay together, and do the right thing.

So, here I was, a new mother (again), supporting my baby and my (by then) husband.  My only escape was the periodic trips to Vegas.  I wasn’t drinking anymore, so that was good, but that hadn’t stopped my desire to go to Vegas; in fact, it was stronger than ever. You see, I didn’t realize it, but my quitting drinking was possible because I simply substituted the one addiction for another – gambling.  A couple of years later, I decided “enough with these 12 trips a year to Vegas; let’s move there.”  Again, my husband had no reason to deny the request.  I was able to retire from my county job, after 22 years of service and have a small retirement stipend, and made sure I had a new job waiting for me in Las Vegas before we moved here.

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Sometime after we moved here, my husband brought home one of those hand held video poker machines.  I had never played poker before – only once, during a neighborhood friendly game, in which I had surprisingly won, with beginners’ luck, not having any idea what I was doing.  But with this hand-held amazing little thing, I learned to hone my skills quite sharply. Each time I went to a casino, it seemed that there were new and varied video poker games double bonus, triple bonus, bonus deluxe, etc., etc. In the last couple of years they added the three reels at a time, and now they even have 50 or 100 games you can play at a time. It’s mind-boggling!!

Now I had found the perfect answer to my female gambler’s dream. I didn’t have to sit and make chit chat with the other players at the 21 table. It could be just me and my machine –my lover–for hours at a time. No one to disturb us. The cocktail waitress would come around and occasionally I’d have a grapefruit juice (liquor was out, of course). This is a little personal, but I have to say that but sometimes I’d actually feel a mini-orgasm when I hit a jackpot. Meanwhile, at home, my libido was practically non-existent.

Sometimes the other players’ cigarette smoke would bother me, but usually, I could even ignore that – especially if I had a “hot” machine. I also loved it if they were playing the “right” music –usually some sultry and sensual, Marvin Gaye songs (“Let’s Get it On”), etc., or hits from further back –at a time when I was young and innocent.  The atmosphere in the casino appealed to me too –dark, soft neon lights flashing here and there, beckoning “come, play me”. No sense of time, no windows.  The tinkling of ice cubes in glasses, people laughing in the background. It was party time!

There has been a lot said and written about the commonalities of men and women gamblers and their differences.  For many men, it’s about being the “big shot”, showing off, taking a chance and winning big in some cases.  For many women, it’s more about escape and isolation. There’s one aspect, however, where this invisible dividing line blurs.  When I say I didn’t want to be a “big shot”, why then was it so important to me to use my “player’s card” at various casinos, and earn points so I could have the so-called “freebies” – like free room nights, free meals, free shows?  But more often than not, there’s no such thing as a “freebie.”

I remember about a year ago when I lost my whole paycheck at a locals casino.  A couple of days later I had no money, so my son and I went to the same casino and used some of my “points” to get a pizza in their Italian deli.  As we left, my son shouted out: “Thanks for the f____ing $1,000 pizza!” (Out of the mouths of slightly jaded babes!).

A funny thing about my style of playing is I didn’t want anyone to know if I hit a jackpot.  I wanted to just keep on playing – no congratulations or anything like that.  I was dead serious about this thing, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with my play.

Many times I sat there for 7 or 8 hours straight, without even taking a bathroom break. When I did, it was nearly impossible to make it without having an accident. So far I’ve concentrated on what I liked about being in the casinos.  What didn’t I like? Well, I didn’t like losing, and “chasing” my losses – or winning and yet not being able to quit until I’d put it all back. I didn’t like trying to get money out of a bank ATM machine, and being told “Unable to complete transaction”.

I didn’t like looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and seeing this strange, wild-eyed, with mussed up hair, confused and scared looking. Can you believe that even looking like this, some men actually “hit on me”?  I guess it was a matter of recognizing what they thought was “easy prey.” But I never resorted to that.  That was one of those “not yets.”  Not saying that it couldn’t have happened – just that it didn’t.

Worst of all, I hated coming home to anger and sadness, disappointment –my husband and my child looking forlorn and lost. What happened, Mommy?  Where was the pizza you said you’d bring home? Even when I had won, they usually weren’t that happy –unless I gave my husband some money so he could do what he wanted (gamble – or buy drugs), and get my son a new Play Station game or something like that, or say, “It’s OK, you don’t need to go to school today.”  He learned manipulation from the best teachers – me and his father.

I’ve managed to hit two milestones here while living in Las Vegas – of over a year “bet free”, but I never got much further than that. Looking back, I think it was because I thought I didn’t deserve any kind of success.  I was worthless. For the most part, I hadn’t really applied the 12 steps to my life –I just went on with it, usually as the martyr, until the pressure got so great and life looked so hopeless, that I had to go out and release my escape valve. All the pain and remorse of the past temporarily disappeared, in my pursuit of the fantasyland escape – the immediate fix, not thinking about the long-term effects.

The worst thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that the gambling is so accessible – you don’t even have to think twice about it – just hop in your car and go. Even the 7-11 around the corner has a few machines (although I liked to stick to the casino atmosphere as I mentioned above).  The best thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that there is ALL kinds of help – if you want it.

There are 24 hour GA (Gamblers Anonymous) meetings and people who know exactly what you’re going through.  I choose right now to stay in Las Vegas because I happen to love so many things about life here.  I especially am drawn to its history (yes, Las Vegas does have a history!) and I write about it at every opportunity.  I was excited in 2005 when this city celebrated its 100th anniversary.  It was Fantastic!

Is it stupid for me to remain here? Maybe so. Maybe not. One of my arguments is that gambling is available in just about any state now, and certainly in Europe. But the facts are, it isn’t as attractive to me anywhere else –not even “Reno or Laughlin” –certainly not “Atlantic City.” Something about being here in this jewel in the middle of the desert has me totally mesmerized and hypnotized. I look at the new games the casinos are offering – anything from ‘Betty Boop’ to ‘Austin Powers’ to the ‘Addams Family,’  and now ‘Popeye’ – and I wonder where it’s all leading.

It’s definitely luring kids, and I understand teenagers are being swept up by gambling – as much as drugs or alcohol. What’s the answer?

Blow up the casinos?

Make a new kind of prohibition? Probably not.

People will always seek their pleasures –in one form or another. They will be errant children. And some can get their pleasures in “safe” measures –not gambling more than they can afford, not becoming suicidal.

I don’t have anything really against gambling or drinking per say – I just know I can’t do it. Can I stay here in Las Vegas and fight my demons? Only time will tell, but I’m willing to give it another try.

(Judy wrote this in 2003 – “More has happened since then, but I’ll save that for another time.”)

Please visit and Purchase her Book Here on Las Vegas: The Fabulous First Century (NV) (Making of America) …. Author, Judy Dixon Gabaldon ~ aka: VEGAS JUDY

 

Teen Gambling and Addiction. Addicted Gambling IS Reaching Our Youth! “Problem Gambling Awareness Month.”

It can be a ‘hidden addiction’ when it comes to youth. You cannot see it in their eyes, or smell it in their breath and there are no scars on their body. However, problem gambling can be seen as the ‘gate way’ to several high-risk behaviors and problems. Gambling is a serious addiction and has […]

9 MAJOR CONSEQUENCES OF YOUTH PROBLEM GAMBLING — TEENS AND THEIR FRUIT MACHINES ….


RECOVERY Guest Post ~ Courtesy of ‘Teens and Their Fruit Machines’ Australia….And It IS Happening In The USA.”

About

Teens & Their Fruit Machines is a campaign aimed at raising awareness towards the increase in problem gambling, amongst our youth.

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“It can be a ‘hidden addiction’ when it comes to youth. You cannot see it in their eyes, or smell it in their breath and there are no scars on their body.”

However, problem gambling can be seen as the ‘gateway’ to several high-risk behaviors and problems. Gambling is a serious addiction and has damaging effects on not only the victim but also their family and friends.  With all of the statistics telling us how many young individuals are affected by this addiction, it’s important to recognize the consequences and problems they face from gambling.

Teens who gamble have higher rates of:

  1. Bankruptcy/ money problems

An average problem gambler loses around $21, 000 per year. Some poker machines can allow a gambler to lose more than $1, 500 in just one hour. In Australia, young people (18-24 years old) spend more money on poker machines than any other age.

  1. Absenteeism from school and early drop-out

This includes poor academic performance and loss of motivation.

 

  1. Housing crisis and homelessness

Whether it’s through financial problems, due to money lost from addiction, or family members kicking young adults out for their problem, homelessness is a common link to gambling addiction.

  1. Substance abuse

This involves alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Problem gamblers are four times more likely to have problems with alcohol and four times as likely to smoke daily, than non-gamblers.

  1. Suicidal ideation and suicide

Problem gambling can lead to feelings of helplessness, as youth feel they have nowhere else to turn. Only 15% of problem gamblers seek help due to stigma, leading them to face the issue on their own.

  1. Mental health issues

This includes anxiety, depression and anti- social behavior.

  1. Criminal behaviour

A higher rate of illegal activity such as robbery, in order to fund their addiction and financial difficulties perpetuated from their problem.

  1. Disrupted family and peer relationships

For each problem gambler, it is estimated that 5-17 other individuals may be affected by their addiction. This could include emotional impacts such as guilt, arguments, disapproval and disruptions to family life.

 

 

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TOP WAYS FOR YOUTH TO GAMBLE ~ What Are They Betting ON?

Scratching tickets, playing cards or watching horses, whatever it is, young people gamble in many ways.

But whether it’s Keno or backing a Bachelor Winner on Sportsbet,  what are our young actually gambling on? Well in the US they are placing BETS ON:

Poker Machines:

 Don’t let the bright lights fool you! If I haven’t said it already, these fruit machines are dangerous! Around 4% of age youth regularly play poker machines, with 15% of people who play being problem gamblers. If it couldn’t get any worse, young people aged 18-24 spend more money on these machines, than any other age group. Poker machines are by far the most problematic form of gambling for college age group.

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POKER/Cards: A Must Read Story – Teens and Poker The Guardian

 
Steve learned the basics by stacking “play money'”  at “Poker school’ sites run by the big online poker companies alongside their gambling sites. Within a month, he was betting cash. “I just typed poker into Google and started playing on the first sites that came up. I deposited money using my own debit card and just registered using a fake date of birth.”

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So, 18 months on, is he winning? ‘Oh yes, definitely, in the long run, but you can have huge swings each week. This week I lost $2,000 [online poker is denominated in dollars], but the week before I won $3,000. Poker’s all about skill in the end and I’ve taken the trouble to learn the game.’ Steve intends to postpone university for a year to play ‘full time’ for ‘five or six hours a day.”

BUT?

The number of High school-age and College students calling gambling helplines in America has doubled in the past two years. Ed, who runs a helpline for the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling, blames internet poker. “I have been in this field for 30 years and I’ve never seen anything as crazy as this,” says the reformed gambling addict. “It’s much like when crack cocaine came out in America in the Eighties. Internet gambling is something right now that you almost can’t stop.”

Two years ago, Paul, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, stole his father’s American Express card to play online poker. Within a few weeks, it was $10,000 into the red. He hoped to win it back before his father found out, but was forced to confess when the bill arrived: his father had to pay up. Paul says the lure of the 24-hour online poker rooms was irresistible: “There was no real age verification or proof of anything needed to play.”

THAT’S THE PROBLEM!

 

 

Sports Betting & More of Internet Gambling:
Sports’ betting is the fastest growing form of gambling around the world. A study by the center for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University, reported a 70% increase in individuals presenting to gambling help services with sports –betting problems in 2009. Not only this but now online gambling! And is now worth an estimated $30 billion. And online poker is estimated to be worth $6 billion annually in the US alone, as the Justice Department has apparently opened the door to internet gambling by reversing their longtime position that online poker and betting was illegal.

 

 

 

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You can pretty much bet on anything on the Internet today! With the increasing accessibility of the Internet around the world, young people have the ease of gambling from the comfort of their own home or dorms.  Not only that but young people can access betting sites from their tablets, smartphones, iPods, laptops and whatever new gadget appears in the store.

In other words, the betting environment has changed, and the breadth and intensity of engagement with the gambling industry and following with it. Not to mention gambling advertising, which swarms our online news, and news feeds!  Last week, I was offered to make a bet on The Bachelorette winner!

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Let’s face it, parents, now YOU need to add gambling and the dangers of how easy they can start to have a problem with it or even become addicted when you have “the talk” with them about drugs and alcohol.

 

Some stats from Center on Addiction say’s “that with most types of addiction, perceptions of who’s at risk for a gambling problem are often wrong. The most recent available data indicates that 2.1 percent of U.S. youth aged 14-21 engage in problem gambling – virtually the same percentage as adults with the disorder. Two-thirds of youth reported gambling in the past year and 11 percent said they gambled more than twice per week.

 

Though it’s hard for teens to access casinos, online and at-home betting is another way for adolescents to gamble, making it difficult for adults to monitor or detect. Like substance use and addiction, most adults who have a problem with gambling began during their teenage years.”

 

 

 

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** Presented by “Recovery Starts Here! – Author/Columnist, Catherine Lyon” **

 

 

    

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

<    <   <   <  >

**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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Image result for free images of Oregon Lottery Scratch off
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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!”