The National Council on Problem Gambling announces March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, with the message
Sometimes it can be difficult to ask someone about their gambling habits. Perhaps a loved on seems preoccupied with sports wagering or you’re concerned about the amount of time they spend on line or in a casino. That niggling feeling comes up that “something’s just not right.” Bill collectors are calling, money is missing, too much time is spent away from home…these are possible signs of a problem. And often, it can be uncomfortable to “Have the conversation” about gambling habits.
Many people can gambling “recreationally”, and for them it is a harmless entertainment like going to a movie, a sporting event or a concert. But for those who can’t “gamble normally”, gambling addiction can be a devastating mental health disorder; destroying lives and harming families. Anyone is subject to become addicted to gambling. Gambling addiction crosses all socio-economic levels. Experts agree that between 3 and 6% of the US population is impacted by some degree of problem gambling. Gambling Disorder is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an Addiction which is treatable IF it is recognized and treatment is sought.
It starts with a CONVERSATION.
For more information and many helpful tools to support National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, go to npgam.org. For Immediate Help with a gambling problem call the National Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.
“The safest way to double your money is to fold over once and put it in your pocket.” (Kin Hubbard)
Ah, truer words have never been written and definitely did not originate from a gambler. For the gambler, it is more about the euphoria of winning when the odds are high or stacked against you. It is the ‘rush’- the excitement and angst that live in your gut when you are betting money you cannot afford to bet, but the payout and chance to ‘get square’ outweigh everything rational and logical that you know. Years ago, golfer Lee Trevino was asked if he felt pressure on making a putt during the Senior Skins match worth $100,000. He said “You don’t know what pressure is until you’ve played for $5 a hole with only $2 in your pocket.” Although Trevino has never been identified as a problem gambler, he definitely has the mentality and thought-process of a gambler.
On Christmas Day of 2014, the remake of The Gambler with Mark Wahlberg was released 40 years after the original version starring James Caan. Both movies follow a similar track- a college professor who likes to gamble, gambles beyond his means and requires a bailout from his mother, and in both movies, he has to convince one of his students (a star basketball player) to do whatever possible so that the team does not win by more than 7 points. Both versions of the movie show the escalation and riskiness of the protagonist chasing their bets, the threats of their bookies as they continue to dig deeper holes for themselves, and the anxiety of finding the money to place their next bet. As a recovering compulsive gambler viewing both these movies, the biggest difference that I noted was that in the orginal, Caan appears to have no remorse and no desire to quit digging his hole; whereas, Wahlberg at least appears to be seeking redemption and to change his gambling ways. The same week that I watched both of these movies, I also watched “Owning Mahowny” (2003) with Philip Seymour Hoffman, based on a true story of a Canadian banker. Although he was not a sports gambler, he was nicknamed “Iceman” and once he started manipulating funds at the bank, he began to escalate the amount of money he would then take to Atlantic City. All told, he ended up embezzling over 10.2 million dollars and, when taken into custody, he appeared stunned and in denial that he had done anything wrong. Read more →
My name is Nancy and I am a 46-year-old woman who has the most wonderful man in her life and two terrific boys who are 10 and 4. Rewind two years ago and I had never gambled a day in my life and thought that anyone who gambled was wasting their time and money. My boyfriend invited me to go to Laughlin for the weekend and I said, “Lets go!” We had a blast and as we enjoyed our Bloody Marys at the bar, my boyfriend would hand me twenty dollars for me to put in the keno machine while he played video poker. As I yawned and played a game that was so simple yet bored me to tears. I sat there and played until I would lose and couldn’t wait to get some food or hang out by the pool.
We went back there quite a bit our first year together due to my boyfriend’s uncle dying of cancer with months to live. And then it happened……while sitting at the bar while the bar was going crazy because we had just won the Stanley cup, I was jumping up and down and looked down to hear this faint bell ringing that seemed nonstop and I had just gotten 6 out of 6 on keno……. I hit my boyfriend’s arm and said, “Look, I won!” Wow, I just won $440 and couldn’t believe it and I said “Now what?” He said “Cash out and go turn your ticket into the machine to get your money.” That’s it? I felt like I was up to no good but I had money and that was it for me, I wanted to save it and go shop or something, but he says “OK, but let’s play $100 of it……ok?” Well the next morning I won the same amount again. It still wasn’t hitting me yet but he said, “You are so lucky!” I felt special because every time I won it made him very proud of me and it felt good. Read more →
I was watching Huckabee Saturday night and there was a Senator on urging folks to write to your rep to stop legalization of internet gambling, here is my letter. I encourage all to do the same Here is the web site:
I am a recovering compulsive gambler and I am writing to urge you to restore the US policy banning Internet gambling in order that the destructive effects of this devastating emotional illness does not have a conduit to dismantle families like the one I had prior to my gambling addiction.
The compulsive gambler many times doesn’t even realize they are in the grips of this crippling addiction and now it’s up to you to eliminate internet gambling and help save the families of your constituents, prevent underage gambling, reduce the destruction caused by problem gamblers, and other illegal activity which is virtually impossible to enforce on the Internet.
Please consider the implications of setting up a casino on every computer in America. Allowing internet gambling to continue would be like allowing cancer to go untreated, or other diseases to be left to run their destructive course. Read more →
November 9, 2014 – At a presentation on Gambling History in Las Vegas, Nevada Senators Ford and Townsend promised to pursue help in providing healthcare services for gambling addiction.
“ There’s no wrong door Bea.” This is what ran through my mind when Nevada Senator Aaron Ford called me earlier this year asking if I would be a part of the Gambling Panel for the “British American Project.”
It’s a phrase I often use when called upon to speak about problem gambling or to serve those impacted by gambling addiction.
The woman credited with this phrase was a pioneer in advocacy for problem gambling services, Dr. Rena Nora ncpgambling.org/files/public/DrNora_Pioneer.pdf While I never met this much beloved woman, I am honored to be a benefactor of Dr. Nora’s wisdom by way of her mentee Carol O’Hare of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling nevadacouncil.org, and her daughter Judge Cheryl Moss , both inspiring champions of the cause, who carry the torch that Dr. Nora ignited.
When asked to speak I answered “Absolutely,” even though I knew little about “the British American Project” or what their interest was in Gambling and Gambling Addiction.
There was a “Knock.” I answered….and the door swung WIDE OPEN as Senator Ford publicly committed that he and Senator Townsend could and would advance the ball in assuring equal services are made available for Nevadans struggling with a gambling addiction!
Compulsive Gamblers can’t be anonymous anymore. If people don’t know about our disease, there’s never a hope for treating it and maybe, someday, curing it.
These are the sentiments of recovering compulsive gambler and Las Vegas attorney Doug Crawford, who will forever be linked to the very public case which resulted in his 2009 suspension from the practice of law. In a January 2012 trial, Doug was the first defendant in a Clark County, NV criminal case to be sentenced in accordance with provisions of the Nevada Problem Gambling Diversionary Law The Diversionary sentencing mandates therapy and attendance at mutual aid support meetings as well as restitution for crimes committed in furtherance of the disease of gambling addiction.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Doug. He candidly shared his story …from early dependence on alcohol and drugs to a gambling addiction that lead him down a path he never imagined he would take – stealing from his clients’ trust account in furtherance of his addiction.
Doug Crawford’s Interview can be seen at youtube.com/user/lanieshope
Maryland Public Television and the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling present an exceptional Gambling Addiction Documentary in “Understanding Joy.”
Don’t let the name fool you…there’s nothing “Joyful” about a gambling addiction. “Joy W.” shares her personal struggles with gambling addiction and the ramifications of acting out in her disease. Joy’s gambling addiction lead her to actions she would have never thought herself capable of doing. In her words, “It’s like my brain was hijacked.” I have heard this and similar declarations like “I can’t believe I did those things” or “It felt like I was in a trance” from others with a gambling addiction. Read more →