As has been the case for many others I have spoken with, my own gambling story begins at a young age (10). Family vacations with my father would involve trips to the Ruidoso Downs race track, where I was given $20 for the day to bet on horses. Later, he would teach me how to play poker, and by the time I was a teenager I was playing occasionally, and later regularly, with a group of his colleagues. By the time I was in college, I became involved in a high-stakes pot-limit game, and won enough money over time to move out of the house and get my own apartment while I was in school. There were two men in that game that I (and others) won money from fairly consistently, and looking back I now realize that it was not just because (as I thought) they were “bad” player, but because they were compulsive (pathological) gamblers who would stay in the game until the last card on almost every hand.
When I finished my graduate degree in 1991, I received a job offer from the Desert Research Institute in Las Vegas to supervise archaeological work out at the infamous Yucca Mountain Project. I was thrilled to get a job in archaeology, and was excited about the prospects of moving to Las Vegas. For many years after moving to Las Vegas I continued to play live poker. While I never considered myself a professional player, I did well enough to win a little money over the long run, and saw it as an entertaining pastime. I didn’t understand the appeal of the video poker machines…it seemed like a complete waste of time to play a machine, where you had no control over the outcome. Occasionally, I would put $20 into a machine, but never won anything substantial until I hit my first royal flush for $1,000 in the mid-1990s. It was a few years later that I hit a 2nd one, and then very soon after, a third. “Aha! This is why people play the machines!” I thought. Gradually, I played less and less live poker and more and more video poker until soon I was playing video poker almost exclusively. It didn’t seem to matter that intellectually I knew I was never going to beat a computer chip. Read more →
For some Super Bowl Sunday is a day of fun and excitement punctuated by friendly banter, cheering on the home team, and eating too much “stadium food.” For others, Super Bowl Sunday marks a day of high adrenaline, high risk behavior and excessive wagering.
According to the The National Council on Problem Gambling, “The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events of the year for Gamblers. For some betting on the game is a desperate effort to get ahead or get even.”
If betting on a game means too much to you or someone you know, hope and help is available anytime. The National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-522-4700) is availble 24/7 and you will be directed to help in your area. Calls are free and confidential.
December 18, 2012
Don’t believe everything you read. At the very least..read on for ‘the rest of the story.’ Such was the case for me when I read this eye-popping headline in the Las Vegas Review Journal: “Reid Pulls the Plug on Internet Poker.” Say WHAT??!!
And then I read on…only to learn that Internet Poker’s “plug” was pulled for 2012. This on December 14th in a year when all eyes, ears and minds should be focused on the proverbial “Fiscal Cliff” vs. yet another gaming initiative.lvrj.com/news/reid-pulls-the-plug-on-internet-poker-for-this-year-183548271.html
Has the plug been “pulled?” No. The switch has been turned off for a mere few weeks until 2013. Internet gambling, social media gaming, online poker and more are hot issues for 2013. Read more →
Here I sit with lifeless eyes,
Playing my machine…it’s do or die.
With the spin of the wheel I place my trust,
I’m gonna’ win…I must.
I think to myself I’ve gotta’ be nuts
My money is gone and I’ve gone bust.
Tomorrow’s a new day and I need more cash
“Money Tree” is up the street; so there I dash.
What the hell, I can’t lose this time.
I feel so lucky. I feel just fine. Read more →
That’s the question I asked myself as I read of the Iowa Department of Public Health’s recovery support systems. What “system of care” wouldn’t be “recovery-oriented?” I asked with more than a bit of sarcasm. As I read more, and delved into the Iowa State’s resources for problem gambling, I checked my cynicism and came away with respect for this state’s efforts to address a growing public health issue – Gambling Addiction.
Promotional materials stated that “only 12-15% of those with Pathological Gambling seek formal treatment..” Well of course I thought! By the time a gambling addiction brings someone to their knees, they have no money, are out of resources and besides, most insurance providers don’t even cover treatment. Kudos to Iowa for addressing this and other issues facing gambling addicts seeking help. Recovery support services in the state include housing assistance, help with utility bills and provision of essentials such as gas cards so that gambling addicts seeking treatment can get to a recovery meeting or counseling. The Iowa Department of Public Health’s gambling addiction resources are available at 1800betsoff.org/what_to_expect.html
Today I was contacted by a concerned friend who’s loved one had recently returned from active duty service with a potential gambling problem. More information is surfacing regarding Military Service Personnel suffering a greater incidence of disordered gambling than the general population.
For a compulsive gambler, there is no “choice.” What may start out as recreation, crosses over into an emotional escape mechanism, to a mental health disorder recognized as such by the American Psychiatric Society since 1980. Those suffering with Disordered Gambling are known to have the highest suicide rate of any other segment of society. Media reports continue to note the increased incidence of suicide among our returning Veterans.
Greater numbers of returning Vets, increased incidence of compulsive gambling coupled with PTSD and heightened suicide in our Military are cause for concern, vigilance on the part of family members and loved ones and self-awareness among our returning Veterans. Help IS available and Problem Gambling IS treatable. If you are suffering from a gambling addiction, please reach out to friends, self-help groups, professional counselors and support groups. Pick up the phone and dial 1-800-522-4700.
The Nevada Council on Problem Gambling has been doing more with less for several years. Recent budget cuts have impacted the Council’s ability to serve our community, and yet through the remarkable work of a small, focused and impassioned staff, this community service organization continues to provide exceptional resources on problem gambling, supports those impacted by problem gambling, and NEVER let’s the phone go unanswered! They need the support of our community! It is unfathomable to me that, as of this writing, only two individuals have contributed to this drive to keep the phone lines going. I can only guess that this is because the generous Las Vegas community does not know the need exists. Please consider a contribution to keep the phone line (a life line to many) alive!
Read more →
What I would do today…if I could
June 2, 2012 3pm
I would start my day with a savory cup of coffee, put on a little Jason Mraz, settle into my favorite Saturday morning chair, and dial the phone. I would call you like so many Saturday morning chats before today. Catch up on the latest news. “How are the kids?” “What’s new with Aunt Bea?” and then we would launch into our usual marathon of crazy, twisty, winding tales that only sisters can follow; let alone understand. I would laugh so hard my stomach would hurt as you relayed yet another story of the “cuckoos nest cubicle land” that was your workplace or some nutty situation you’d gotten yourself into…AGAIN. I would say, “Oh my GOSH! I can’t believe you DID THAT?” and you would say, “Oh Shut up…I’m telling a story here!” Read more →
Support the Comprehensive Problem Gambling Act (HR 2334)
If you support federal funding for compulsive gambling awareness, prevention and treatment, isn’t it worth five minutes of your time to complete the simple form and let your Representatives hear from you?
Click on link to “Support” govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-2334
Gambling is legal in 48 states. Casinos are proliferating, additional slot machines are being added to existing venues and convenience stores, and table games are being added to horse tracks. Gambling is spreading across the country as more and more states try to solve their budget woes by increased gambling tax and licensure revenues. At the same time, state budgets for Problem Gambling Councils and treatment have been cut significantly. Nevada’s budget to address problem gambling was cut by 50% in 2010 and Florida was cut by 90% in 2011! That’s right! NINETY percent! That is just the tip of the iceberg.
To date I am only the 50th person to respond. Let’s double that this weekend! Every voice counts!
Las Vegas Review Journal’s Jane Ann Morrison post on the fate of Monsignor Kevin McAuliffe, convicted of Federal mail fraud related to his admitted gambling addiction, displayed a notable bias and an even more notable lack of understanding of the disease nature of compulsive gambling.
Morrison’s position on how “Justice” should be meted out for the Monsignor coupled with subsequent comments from RJ readers were notable angry; seemingly seeking a pound of flesh in lieu of jurisprudence. After numerous thwarted attempts to post my opinion following RJ submission protocol, I decided to use this forum to express my opinons. Ms. Morrison’s article is attached.