Gambling Addiction is NOT a Poor Person’s Addiction. Meet Melinda L., An RN…

imageedit_1_6172885164 Courtesy of InRecovery Magazine

“My name is Melinda and I saved lives for a living.”

I was an ICU nurse and a nursing supervisor at a hospital where I had been employed for 27 years. I had earned respect, accolades and a good degree of success in my career. There are people alive today because of actions I took and decisions I made, often in a split second, to save their lives. With all of this success, I could not for the life of me stop gambling or think I could stop any more than changing the tides of the ocean.

Believe me, I tried.  In the local bookstore, I found rows and rows of books on alcoholism, drug addiction, overeating, overspending, over-sexing, over this, over that. There were entire sections dedicated to the innocent enablers who unwillingly allowed the “overs” to continue their destructive behavior. There were no manuals for the hapless gambler.

I would sit in my car, slam the steering wheel, lower my head and sob. My gas gauge was on empty, and that familiar nauseating feeling of disgust and terror would return. Then, as always, I would form a momentary sense of resolution and regurgitate the lines of an old sermon filled with rallying cries: “I can’t do this anymore . . . this is not me . . . I’m not a caged animal on a treadmill . . . I am better than this!” Each time I spoke these words, I had the feeling that this time I would stop gambling.

Less than 24 hours later, my car was back in the casino parking lot. It was as if I had no control; I realize now that I didn’t. This continued for close to five years until my life came crashing down. Due to choices I’d made to feed my addiction, I lost my job of 27 years, damaged relationships with friends and family, forfeited an insane amount of money and nearly lost my life. I also lost perhaps the most precious thing of all; time. Time I can never get back wasted in front of slot machines.

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Slot machines were designed with one goal: to make an addict out of everyone. The longer a person plays, the more money they lose, until it is all gone. In the midst of my gambling addiction, my sensible way of thinking about money all but vanished. I would drive an extra four miles to save $2 on paper towels, and yet drop $500 in a slot machine. I kept 50 cents in the console of my car for enough gas to get home. It was often the only money I had left at the end of a day of gambling.

One time when I was so engrossed in my machine, I failed to hear a man’s call for help when his mother passed out. I had performed several Good Samaritan acts in public, but I had a good thing going that particular Sunday afternoon; I was winning. That should have been the time I faced reality, but it wasn’t. I had two more years of self-destruction, convoluted thinking, and unhinged behavior ahead of me.  I was just as impaired by gambling as a bar patron who has had too much to drink. After about eight drinks, a bartender would no doubt cut them off; after all, they might hurt themselves, or worse, kill someone. When a patron’s judgment is impaired, the responsible thing would be to cut them off.

No such limits exist at the casino. Every time I went gambling, it was as though I was walking into the Cheers bar. The greeters knew my name when I usually gambled and the machine I liked; I’m sure they were also aware of how often I lost. No one ever came over and suggested, “Take a break, go home, take care of your kids.” There were no safety nets in place; just a few signs with a number to call if you thought you had a gambling problem.

I hit rock bottom and stopped gambling on April 29, 2012. My hard work was just beginning. My life was in shambles. I had no job, no money and no direction. Nursing was all I had ever known and loved, and I had jeopardized my license. There is a reason why gambling addiction has the highest rate of suicide of any addiction. One in five addicts attempt suicide, and many succeed. There is only so much cocaine, heroin or alcohol you can put into your body before ending up in a morgue. Gambling has no such constraints; when it gets bad, suicide seems to be the only answer.

Fortunately, I knew I had to live. I had to be a mother to my children.

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As I slowly emerged from a cloud of profound shame and despair, I began going to Gamblers Anonymous meetings and reached out to organizations I had avoided in the past. One of those organizations was a nonprofit in Washington, DC, called Stop Predatory Gambling. Their mission is to stop the injustice and inequality created by government-sponsored gambling. I became their official National Victim’s Advocate, a voice for those who remain silent and in the shadows due to social stigma and discrimination. I began speaking all over the country and joined in the fight against gambling expansion. The underlying message was simple: Gambling addiction is a beast that destroys families and individuals; it is fundamentally wrong for our government to prey upon the vulnerable to fill their coffers. My goal was to bring advocacy, raise awareness and reform for this highly misunderstood addiction.

“I once had a one-on-one conversation with a senator from Illinois. “You don’t look like a gambler,” he said. “What do you think one looks like?” I replied. “We look like who we are: your neighbor, sister, father, spiritual leader, co-worker. The slot machine didn’t look back at me and say, ‘Gee, you are a bit too put together, I’m not going to make you an addict.”

Gambling operates on the Pareto Principle: 90% of profits come from 10% of the gamblers. These are not your casual weekend night-on-the-town gamblers, they are the most vulnerable: the elderly, poor, women and minorities. “Casino Cafes” located every few miles in strip malls with cutesy names like Stella’s and Dolly’s are blatantly predatory to women. Many states and municipalities view gambling as an economic panacea, yet they miss the hidden costs: child neglect, crime and ultimately the need for state assistance. Gambling addiction tears families apart and ruins lives.

Gambling addiction is now recognized as a disease and may be covered by insurance and have benefits that cover treatment. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the number of gambling addicts is rising at an alarming rate. In Illinois alone, there are nearly 12,000 people on the voluntary self-exclusion list – just an estimated 10% of the state’s problem gamblers.  Gambling nearly killed me, and I never saw it coming.  Things need to change. We have far to go before the problem of compulsive gambling is resolved.

Change begins when even one addicted gambler finds recovery.

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Melynda Litchfield has been a registered nurse for over 30 years, working in ICU, nursing administration and now home care. She is the National Victim’s Advocate for Stop Predatory Gambling, mans the GA hotline twice a week and speaks on the predatory effects of gambling and the nature of the gambling industry. Melynda is the proud mother of three children and is active in community organizations, including her church council.
www.stoppredatorygambling.org

**I have known and worked with Melinda and Les Bernal Founder of Stop Predatory Gambling about the expansion and impact of the growing offerings of gambling sponsored by the Oregon State Lottery and when I lived in Oregon until late 2013. Please visit there website by the link above and see how gambling has a negative impact on your State and Community today…

Catherine Lyon

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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.  ( Courtesy: Harry Esteve | hesteve@oregonian.com )

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**

 

 

 

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 ”

Let’s Kick Off “National Week of Action Against Predatory Gambling” And Voices From Beyond. . .

Hello and Welcome All Recovery Friends and Visitors,

This coming week is a big deal for me. I get together with the fine folks at Stop Predatory Gambling, Les Bernal, and staff to raise awareness about predatory gambling by our Government and by our States Lottery. Just about every state in the US has some form of state sponsored for-profit gambling offering. Now we all are pretty smart people as to know they are not making money and profits from gaming by the “once in a blue moon players.” NO, they are making profits off those who are the problem or addicted gamblers. And quite frankly that should be ILLEGAL. But since the Government approves it and so do the states, it is legal. HHHHHMMMMM.

Many have NO idea that Gambling Addiction is currently the #1 addiction with the highest suicide rate,  YES, that is over drug and alcohol addictions.  Please take some time to read this story which will touch your heart: Gambling Addiction Suicide – Lanie’s Hope as I shared Lanie’s story this time last year. It is heartbreaking to me that these suicides are happening at a faster 2x the rate than any other addiction and our Government is still cutting funding for treatment. Also, our State Lotteries are not giving enough money for funding required funding for treatment of those who become addicted to it. Where I came from, the State of Oregon, you can see the petty amount allotted for treatment in this article below. 1% is pretty embarrassing, to say the least  . . .

How funds are allocated – Oregon Lottery


“Over the years, Oregon voters have approved constitutional amendments allowing Lottery funds to be used for economic development (1984), public education (1995) and natural resources (1998). The Oregon Legislature transfers 1 percent of Lottery revenues every biennium to fund problem gambling treatment.”

And like in my previous posts, I am advocating and participating again this year for “The National Week of Action To Stop Predatory Gambling” along with my friend Ronda Hatefi and Les Bernal from Stop Predatory Gambling Website in HONOR of Ronda’s brother, Bobby Hafemann who took his own life due to gambling addiction. Now here are more Voice’s we will never hear like Bobby’s as they too felt they had no other options to STOP Gambling and are no longer with us  .  .  .

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“VOICES FROM BEYOND WE WON’T HEAR”

    “Gambling is a real drug for addicted players, who continue returning back to the casino every day and wasting all money there. And they don’t care about the spouses, that have already packed their luggage to leave, or children who don’t eat much because of money deficiency.”

And this is just the tip of the List!

LA – On Thursday, another fight about gambling steeled Jueliene Butler’s determination to leave her husband, as her children raced down the street on their bicycles and tricycles. The two shots that resounded through the neighborhood ended a tempestuous 26-year marriage between Rodney and Jueliene Butler in a murder-suicide heard by their 13-year-old daughter.
Times Picayune 5/8/98

IL – Each turned on the ignition of their Olds Regency after stretching a vacuum hose from the exhaust pipe into the car’s interior, climbing in and rolling up the windows. Carol, 63, was the obsessive gambler. Disabled and saddled with the monstrous debt she had created, Skip, 69 had wanted to join her. Undone by a ravenous habit that cost them $200,000, a house, a nest egg and two lives, it was Carol who left a terse hint of the forest of guilt and fear that had grown around them. Bexson and Carol Warriner chose suicide as a last exit from gambling habits.
Los Angeles Times 6/22/97

ATLANTIC CITY — An unidentified man hanged himself under the Boardwalk on Thursday, the third suicide outside a casino in the last three months, police said.
The Associated Press 6/9/00

ATLANTIC CITY — A 50-year-old Ventnor man apparently committed suicide Tuesday afternoon by jumping off the parking garage of a casino, police said.
LAS VEGAS SUN 4/5/00

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A German tourist jumped to his death off a 10-story casino parking garage Wednesday in the third such suicide in eight days.
The Associated Press 8/25/99

Atlantic City – Ex-casino worker leaps to death from roof of Trump Marina. He is the fifth person to jump from a casino here and die since August 1999.
South Jersey Publishing CO 5/27/00

Atlantic City – A bloodied body was found at the entrance to the Sands Casino Hotel parking garage just before 8 a.m. Investigators believe he fell two stories to his death but don’t know much more than that.
South Jersey Publishing 7/30/00

Atlantic City – The 36-year-old Florida man leaped seven stories to his death Tuesday after losing between $50,000 and $87,000 at Trump Plaza.
South Jersey Publishing Co. 8/19/99

CT – He had developed a gambling habit over the past few months that began on a trip to Las Vegas this summer. Police believe he was driving home from Foxwoods Resort Casino when, in desperation, he killed himself by hanging.
The Day Publishing 9/9/00


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Need help from Gambling Addiction or Problem Gambling? Call Today.


In Oregon:  call 1-877-MY-LIMIT (695-4648).

National Hotline:  call  1-800-522-4700 all days and hours for resources and referrals.

National Suicide Hotline: call Call  1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day.

Gamblers Anonymous –http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/hotlines
Find A Meeting: http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/locations

For Family Help:  Gam-Anon: Family and friends of problem gamblers can find resources and a list of meetings at gam-anon.org or 718-352-1671.


 

Coming The End of Sept. ‘The 2nd Annual National Week Of Action To Stop Predatory Gambling’and Ronda Hatefi.

IT’S TIME TO STOP PREDATORY GAMBLING
FROM GOVERNMENT & STATES…

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*TIME AGAIN FOR “THE NATIONAL WEEK OF ACTION TO STOP PREDATORY GAMBLING” SEPTEMBER 2016*

Fall is in the air and that means another week of ‘Raising Awareness, Educating, and Informing the Public about Problem and Addicted Gambling’ . . . . .

Most all my friends and recovery blog followers know I live my life in recovery for almost 10-year’s from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse. For my new visitors?

That is what this recovery blog is all about. It is my continued journey from my current book/memoir titled; “Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) ” My story of my life and what I went through with gambling addiction and living with undiagnosed mental health, which cost me way more than the money lost, it almost cost my LIFE TWICE by SUICIDE.

So once again this year I will be blogging here all month long in “Honor” of My dear friend Ronda Hatefi and her brother Bobby Hafemann who had committed suicide due his gambling addiction. Suicide should never be an option to STOP GAMBLING ADDICTION.

 
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.    ( Ronda Hatefi and a Photo of her brother Bobby Hafemann )

My dear friend Ronda lost her brother July 20, 1995, and for 21 years she has been sharing his story and raising awareness of State Lottery Predatory Gambling. See, Bobby Hafemann became addicted to ‘The Oregon State Lottery Video Poker machines’ after they were introduced in 1992 throughout the State of Oregon, USA. And as Ronda knows, so was I later in 1997 on for many years. Shortly after Bobby’s death, she started the organization Oregonians For Gambling Awareness and petitioned Oregon’s governor to proclaim September 29 as “Problem Gamblers Awareness Day.”

I spoke with Ronda the other day by phone and told her that The Oregon Lottery and our State failed her, her family and Bobby by not having enough funding for Bobby from the lottery for treatment services they are supposed to set up for those who become addicted. There have been many articles written about Bobby Hafemann and his story through the year’s, here is one to get the full scope of Ronda and her families loss here: http://www.mentalhealthportland.org/since-brothers-suicide-ronda-hatefi-has-worked-to-raise-awareness-about-problem-gambling/

And the expansion of lottery and casinos? That will be another blog post topic here this month. And this is not taking into account all the Indian Casinos that have opened throughout my former state I lived in for over 26-years myself. Gambling machines were everywhere! So last year’s very first “National Week of Action to Stop Predatory Gambling” was to Honor and Remember Bobby Hatefi and were many events held with the help of Les Bernal and the fine folks of
Stop Predatory Gambling  ….

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Les has been National Director since 2008 when the national network grew into the organization of Stop Predatory Gambling. Like many of the thousands of citizens who have fought against government-sponsored casinos and lotteries over the last twenty-five years, Les was a convert to the cause. The more he learned about the spectacular failure of this public policy, so the more committed he became to work for a more honest, fairer, healthier and more hopeful vision of the path to American prosperity.

He has spoken and written extensively about online gambling, regional casinos, and state lotteries, all of which are being promoted by our government and states to citizens. He has testified before Congress, he has appeared on national television and radio including 60 Minutes, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, National Public Radio and The BBC. He has been cited by more than 550 newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, USA Today, and Sports Illustrated. He has also spoken before more than 1000 business organizations, college audiences and faith groups across the nation.

They are a great resource to see how gambling establishments are “impacting your community.” So visit their website, type in your STATE, and see what you can do to help in your community here:  Check Your State
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Now  Ronda works very hard sharing her “Take a Break Campaign” that has been educating and raising awareness about addicted gambling.  And Ronda will be with us all month sharing more about the campaign and how she advocates. But today, I wanted to share a little of what she and her family experienced and had gone through watching her brother, their son slip through their fingers as he became deeper into gambling addiction.

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THE PLACES LUCK WILL TAKE YOU  ~ Ronda Hatefi

My story is about luck. You know, everyone today wishes to be lucky. Lucky enough to win the game, to get the promotion at work, to not get a speeding ticket when your late for work, and of course to win the lottery or just your local poker game.

How much does just plain luck have to do with these things? Are some people just luckier than others? Can you increase your luck by carrying a lucky penny, rabbit’s foot, or token of some sort?

I used to think these things were true. We always said that my brother was the lucky one in our family. As kids we would walk through the store together, he found a $20 bill near the register. Camping we all walked along the same log, he found the $10 bill. He was always picking up coins off the ground, and somehow we all just knew it was because he was luckier than we were. This did not stop in adulthood.

When he turned 18 he bought himself a scratch ticket from the Oregon Lottery. Guess what, $500 winner. How can one guy be this lucky? He continued to buy lottery tickets, winning some, losing some. He bought some mega bucks, and keno tickets as well. We heard a lot more about the winning than we did the losing so I can’t really tell you a percentage of wins to losses.

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Then video poker machines came into Oregon. This was a new challenge for him, one that he took on like any other, with 110% effort. Again, he started out lucky, with wins; enough for him and us to all think once again, he was just lucky.

After some time, it seemed that his luck had started to run out. Things were not going his way anymore. He was losing more than he was winning, to the point of having to borrow and sell things to keep gambling, and he was passed up for a promotion at work. He continued to gamble, more than he had been to try to get his lost money back. Chasing that win, knowing that his luck would turn again. It didn’t happen liked he had hoped. For a guy that was used to winning, these were some pretty hard facts to face.

He became suicidal and spoke about it to only a couple of people who didn’t know what to do so they did nothing. I am not sure how long he felt this way; I know that he did write a few notes. The last one he wrote was the hardest to read. He spoke of a cruel world, (things weren’t going his way anymore), he felt like a ghost, someone that no one could see, and that he couldn’t see anyone else. You see, Bobby’s luck took him places for a long time, but when it ran out, he lost more than his money.

Before he lost his life, he lost his self-respect, his self-esteem, his quality of life, his love of life, and his desire to live and hope. He wanted it all to stop. This is way too much to lose; I think gambling with these things is too much to ask. My point of this story is that you really can’t rely on luck, you may be lucky for awhile but chances are it will run out. You hear about the good things that gambling does, the big wins, this is the other side.

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If you can’t control it by sticking to time and money limits or if it controls your thoughts, or it is not fun anymore, it is time to get help.  I have learned there are people out there that care, and that really want to and know how to help, that it is okay to talk about your gambling problem or your family members gambling problem without feeling the shame and guilt that Bobby felt. I know that if we continue to educate people on this issue that maybe we can help others not suffer the same pain that Bobby suffered and that we are still suffering today.

I have always said that the pain that my family and I have felt is sometimes unbearable, but it is nothing compared to what he must have been feeling at the moment he decided to end it. I can’t imagine having that kind of pain over something that is offered as entertainment by our State and Country.

Please help us continue to share about the addiction of gambling, and the trouble it can cause. Know that help is available. It is free, confidential and it works.


If you live in the State of Oregon, Please Call 1-877-MY-LIMIT ( 1-877-695-4648).

If in any other State Call The National Hotline: Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700).  If you feel ‘Hopeless’ call The Suicide Hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255 Available 24 hours every day  .  .  .  .

 

Ronda Hatefi –Eugene, OR.
Founder  Oregonians for Gambling Awareness Organization and Ronda Hatefi  And The Take a Break Campaign.

“My After Thoughts – Honoring Bobby H. & His Sister Ronda Hatefi, This Past Weekends National Day of Action Against Predatory Gambling – My Story”

Hello and Welcome All Recovery Friends & New Visitors,

 




“It was a big weekend for Raising Awareness of Predatory Gambling! I blogged from morning until night with several posts I hope helped some or all who came to visit my recovery blog this past weekend”…

There were many events that took place all over the United States and around the world to ‘Honor The Memory’ of Ronda’s brother Bobby Hafemann who in 1995 to his life by 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.

But this year, my good friends and the fine folks of  Stop Predatory Gambling  helped to honor Bobby and his sister with the very First National Day of Action Against Predatory Gambling this past weekend! Sept 26th & 27th 2015. Now since I suffer Agoraphobia, I took to my blog and social media and blogged about “All Things Gambling Addiction & Recovery!” I also wanted to thank Ronda, as I put my last post up late last night, and shared throughout social media, she had some nice words and re-shared my post links on her Facebook page.

So, I thought I would do one more post as an after event wrap up by sharing some of my book with all that shares when I learned, shown and became addicted to The Oregon Lottery Video Poker & Slot Machines. I stopped going to the Indian casinos. All I had to do was walk up the street to gamble on the machines that were through the Oregon Lottery. Access is a BIG factor with problem and addicted gamblers. And these machines are everywhere throughout the state. So is the part from my current book/memoir of how I learned about the Oregon Lottery .. .. .
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Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.


( Click to purchase from Amazon )

“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. She stayed with us until she got settled at her new job. About the same time, the state of Oregon passed a bill to allow video poker machines in places that served food, such as bars, taverns and delis. The lottery already had Keno games online. For my addiction, that was a downfall for me when I started compulsively gambling later on. It was so accessible.”

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 tickets. So, for an addicted gambler, it seems action really is everywhere, and when you’re addicted, you have no self-control. You feel as though you’re constantly teetering on a high wire.

When the video poker machines were approved by the state, 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 live, there were little sandwich delis opening up around town 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, and with my friend Debbie staying with me, she and I would often go have lunch at one of these deli’s. 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 built-up feelings of excitement before I went, knowing I’d get to gamble if we went to lunch, or if we were going to the casino. The only thing I did was play Keno if we went to lunch 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 three retired gentlemen, who were also having lunch and playing Keno while they ate. One of them finished his lunch and was 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 machine. I asked him how much of that money did he start with. He said only $ 10. Well, you don’t have to tell a person who works in a bank how much profit he’d made so far.

Flush Fever

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 bad. It will keep a person’s ass on that chair gambling.

As I was playing, the guy next to me got up and was getting ready to leave. For as long as I’m alive, 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 really hate myself if you got hooked on these machines.” Oh, if only I had listened to his sage wisdom.

“I still look back, all these years later, and remember what that man said to me. He never knew how that day changed my life, because I never saw him there again.” .. .. ..
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“Before I write about the woman I am, you need to know the little girl I was.”

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

“This book is dedicated to my loving husband of 22 years. (Now 26 years this Sept 29th!) Tom, without you, your unconditional love for me and support throughout the years of my gambling addiction and recovery, I never would have made it back to reality. You have made me a better person for not just giving up on me, and for always knowing the true woman you married all those years ago. We both know now that no matter what life throws at us, we can weather any storm that comes our way. We deserve to have peace and serenity for the rest of our days together.”

“I also dedicate this book to all those who suffer from this illness, or those who may be afflicted with this insidious, insane addiction. Know that there is help out there, and hope, if you choose recovery. This illness is treatable, and there is life after gambling addiction. Our path to recovery may be rocky or difficult at times, but know you’re not alone.”

“There are others out there suffering from this destructive addiction.”

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Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Gambling Recovery Advocate 🙂 XO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Others Partake In The First National Day of Action Stop Predatory Gambling!

“START SPREADING THE NEWS!! National Day of Action Stop Predatory Gambling!”

Here are some happenings around the US and around the World of The First National Day of Action!!

Gambling opponents protest casino planned in Medford!

Citizens of Long Island, NY participated in today’s National Day of Action Against Predatory Gambling. Their action made headlines in Newsday.

http://www.newsday.com/…/gambling-opponents-protest-casino-…

Gambling opponents protest casino planned in Medford State lawmakers opposed to a planned video lottery and casino with 1,000 video slot machines…
(Courtesy of newsday.com)

Australia is behind The First National Day of Action!!

Thank you to our friends in Australia, participating in National Day of Action with black arm bands to highlight the hundreds of thousands harmed in that country! This is a Worldwide event!! Keep the pictures coming!

Stop Predatory Gambling's photo.Stop Predatory Gambling's photo.

Even our Friends in New Mexico helps The National Day of Action!!

The first of the more than 100 actions taking place this week as part of the National Day of Action Against Predatory Gambling kicked off in New Mexico. No matter what it is, DO SOMETHING this week to express your hopes and your willingness to act for a future better than the one predatory gambling offers all of us

http://www.abqjournal.com/…/abq-antigambling-activists-join…

 

Demonstrators gathered outside the New Mexico Lottery offices on Saturday morning, burning losing an …  abqjournal.com |By Albuquerque Journal .. ..

“Other happenings and concerns of Gambling, Problem Gambling, and to much access”
If you’re wondering what’s behind all the intense and unavoidable advertising for FanDuel and DraftKings as Week 1 of the NFL season gets underway, then you need to read and share this revealing story by BusinessWeek. So-called “daily fantasy sports” is a massive ripoff of the American people. Because it’s blatantly dishonest and predatory, it should be targeted by every serious state Attorney General in the US.

Is that a problem for DraftKings and FanDuel?
bloomberg.com ~
“I am SO tired of seeing the Damn FANDUEL Commercials, are you?”
Just another form of Gambling!

**YOU really need to go read the article the link above in blue! It will knock your gambling socks OFF!!
Here is just of snippet!**

You Aren’t Good Enough to Win Money Playing Daily Fantasy Football ~ Is that a problem for DraftKings and FanDuel?

Every first-time player of daily fantasy football begins the new season undefeated, just like even the most hopeless NFL teams. But after 16 weeks of real football, most rookie fantasy players will have been separated from their money, just as certainly as the Cleveland Browns will be disabused of their playoff ambitions.

Daily fantasy is getting ready to generate more losers in 2015 than ever before. Each year in the history of daily fantasy sports has been bigger than the last, and September has become the biggest month for new fans trying the game, which combines the stats-jockeying of traditional fantasy contests with the thrills of old-fashioned sports betting. (Fantasy sports are exempted from the federal ban on sports gambling.) FanDuel and DraftKings, the two main services, will bring in a combined $60 million in entry fees in the first week of the NFL season, according to Adam Krejcik, a partner at Eilers Research. Sports books in Las Vegas, by contrast, are expected to handle about $30 million.

The rival startups prospered in football’s offseason. Both companies raised huge new rounds of investment, bringing DraftKings’s total haul to $426 million and FanDuel’s to $363 million, and both are now valued at more than $1 billion.  .. .. .. *CHECK OUT THE REST AT ON THE BLUE LINK ABOVE!*
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“Lets Keep The Pressure On People!! STOP Predatory Gambling in Your Community!!”

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Gambling Recovery Advocate!