Christmas Season is Here With a Pandemic. Things We Can Do For a Safe Stay-At-Home Recovery Holiday…

Christmas Season is Here With a Pandemic. Things We Can Do For a Safe Stay-At-Home Recovery Holiday…


What a whirlwind of a recovery year we all have had, RIGHT?

As a person maintaining recovery and an advocate, it has been an a wild and bumpy ride to say least. I many people looking recovery resources and mentoring than ever before while this pandemic continues to rage and continue to spread like wild fire.

I don’t know about you, but many things have occurred in my recovery journey this year that I couldn’t catch my breath. With Thanksgiving come and gone, the Christmas season is upon us, an odd year for sure; I am sure ready for a New Year! How do you live your recovery lifestyle amidst all the crazy going on since early 2020? I thought I’d share some of mine and make a point that no matter what life may throw at us?

We just never give up our recovery.

Has it been a challenging year since COVID turned our recovery path upside down? Well, yes. But I, for one, kept my long-term recovery path through it all. How do you ask? It wasn’t easy! It started with some personal and business pitfalls around the end of March. My literary marketing business took a hit as one by one, I lost all my author clients as they got furloughed from their jobs. It wasn’t about the little extra income I made. It was thinking, now, what will I do with all my time?


3 Tips To Navigate The Holidays When You Are In Recovery — ELEMENTS OF  RECOVERY



With authors having no money to market and promote their books. Nothing was selling as people focused on where the rent money, bill money or new jobs would come from, and just as recovery and everything else began to shift to online only. Then? It was an election year on top of that! And if you are a person who is on social media like I have to be when my business was running, it got really politically ugly and I had never seen America become so divided.

So, with the pandemic still spreading and medical experts telling us to STAY HOME, I actually had time to make Thanksgiving dinner with a nice turkey meal even though it was my birthday on Thanksgiving day. And as GOD is always taking care of us, I was blessed with gifts and even had a birthday cake my husband had special ordered for me.

Again, recovery has been rough since we can’t do meetings or groups in person. And tougher for me as a recovery advocate unable to speak, raise awareness and NO recovery awareness live in-person events.
So, here are some things I have been doing to keep my recovery path moving forward, keeping it intact, and continue to share my voice and help others know that Recovery is Possible.


Read – Journal – Watch – Listen!

Since having more time, I have been writing and journaling like never before. It includes my recovery writing like for my column in “Keys to Recovery” newspaper and I was invited to write an article for a global magazine called ADIVA Magazine for their column “Her Story” for the Fall/Winter issue. Very exciting! I was honored to be part of the ADIVA Family.

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Article and Recovery in ADIVA Mag “Her Story”



Here are some things you can do at home through the holiday season to enhance your recovery.

Journaling is an amazing tool for processing “old pain” and healing. Another area is reworking your 12-Steps. Did you know when you continue to work your steps? You can go back to them at an earlier time and see what areas you need more growth, but you can see how far you have come. This helps to build your self-esteem and self-worth needed to move forward, maintaining your recovery.

Reading is a tool we can use to stay educated and learn by reading many addiction and recovery books. Audiobooks and e-books have become most popular since the pandemic. You can listen to a great book while doing work or cleaning at the same time. I have also been watching and listening to lots of podcasts and radio shows. I’ve even been a guest on several this year as an advocate. Visit my Book Suggested reads while you are here or visit this Amazon link and see all the amazing books on addiction/recovery to read! https://www.amazon.com/Recovery-Health-Mind-Body-Books/b?ie=UTF8&node=4716

All of these activities can enhance our recovery during the holiday season.


Listening & Watching: Since most of as us have already shifted to online everything for recovery, like GA, AA, NA meetings, recovery groups, FB Live Celebrate Recovery, worship, and more. It is also important to continue being supported within your recovery by friends and family.

There are many free apps and platforms we can use to do so. Skype, What’s App, FB Messenger, Zoom, and watch FB Live events & visit recovery groups and many more. But never discount the good ole PHONE. Check-in with friends, your sponsor, and let them know how your doing. Watching and doing Podcasts shows is agreat way to share your voice and story of recovery! I have been a guest on several this year.


Last? Dive into the Christmas season by making your living space in your home Merry and Christmasey with decorations, lights, and maybe a little tree. Even though we can’t be all together this Christmas, you can still enjoy the season within your own home. Put on a mask and walk the neighborhood to see all the festive light displays or even drive to them in your car. It will also help the winter or seasonal blues and be healthy for our mental and emostional well-being.

So, yes, we still find ourselves with this pandemic during our recovery holiday season, and again, spreading. Listening to health professionals and those experts in your state or country you live in and to stay healthy and safe is part of our life, our recovery journey, and while keeping our recovery intact.

You Got This!



It’s called having life-balance! Besides, the good news is the vaccines are coming, and so is a “Fresh Happy New Year for a “Do-Over!” I know 2021 is going to bring us all life and recovery renewal, peace, and serenity. Next year, we will have so much to celebrate and have gratitude for knowing we all made it through.

Those of us maintaining recovery know we never give up!

Recovery Advocate, Catherine Lyon


Problem Gambling Misconceptions and Myths. Are They Fact or Myth? My Guest Post By “The Recovery Village” …

Problem Gambling Misconceptions and Myths. Are They Fact or Myth? My Guest Post By “The Recovery Village” …

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What happens when you first walk into a CASINO? How do you feel? Like your special? Have feelings of excitement? Like you may WIN BIG?

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Well, that was exactly how I felt! And how many people who have had a problem with gambling, felt too!  Now, I am not saying that if you gamble normally that you’ll become a problem or an addicted gambler.  What I am trying to say and share is that for those who do have a problem?  There is nothing NORMAL about it as many of the exciting feelings become the staple of ‘HOW WE FEEL’ each time we gamble.  AND? It goes way beyond those “Feeling of being SPECIAL”…

We actually get a euphoric high and rush when we walk into any gambling venue …And never matters if we WIN or LOSE, these feelings along with cravings, triggers, and urges compound the more we are in “action!”  Be it at cards, slots, or even dice?  The preference really doesn’t matter.

It is the act, being in action and being active within gambling that keeps us stuck in a habitual “CYCLE.”

With so much STIGMA around this Silent Problem, a problem many suffer in silence from addicted gambling, I wanted to share most of an article by the team at “Recovery Village Center”  to help us with some of the real facts are from the MYTHS about problem gambling.  Always know they are ready to HELP and share HOPE from this cunning addiction as The Fine Folks of Recovery Village are always available.

Just visit their website or Call THEM AT 1-888-559-6554 …~ Advocate, Catherine Lyon

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Reviewer Andrew Proulx
Updated on01/23/20

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“Gambling addiction is a serious and devastating problem for many people. Understanding this serious behavioral addiction requires replacing the myths with the facts.”

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Gambling addiction, or compulsive gambling, is a behavioral addiction (process addiction) characterized by a pathological obsession and compulsion to gamble. The addiction to gambling becomes increasingly problematic, causing financial, family, social and job problems, but the gambler continues and is unable to control or stop gambling, despite the negative consequences.

Compulsive gamblers are secretive and tend to be socially isolated, so there are many misconceptions and myths about this addiction. To have a proper understanding of this devastating disorder, it is necessary to separate the myths from the facts.

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Myth 1: Gambling Isn’t Addictive

Fact: Gambling is designed to be addictive.

Gambling operates on a principle of psychology that is known to be highly addictive and compulsion-inducing. This principle is based on variable ratios of reinforcement (i.e., winning), and random ratios of reinforcement, together known as a variable-ratio reinforcement schedule (VRRS). Finding the most addictive form of a VRRS is a matter of considerable research. Most gambling machines are programmed to dole out wins on a precise schedule that is based on the most addictive form of a VRRS.

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Myth 2: Gambling Is a Way to Make Money

Fact: The house always wins, especially when it comes to compulsive gamblers. Money Never Comes For FREE

When driving past a casino it is easy to admire the lavish building. However, it is also easy to forget that the money to build that casino probably came from the losses of the people who gamble there.

One of the characteristics of compulsive pathological gambling is the persistent belief that the next bet will pay, despite repeatedly losing past the next bets. As such, the delusional belief that a stroke of luck is only a wager away is part of the pathological psychology of gambling addiction. The belief that gambling will pay off despite having lost considerable amounts of money is a driving factor of compulsive gambling.

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Myth 3: If You Keep Playing, You Will Eventually Win Your Money Back

Fact: The longer someone remains actively gambling addiction, the greater the losses.

The irrational belief that the gambler will eventually hit it big and come out ahead is a significant driver of gambling addiction. To people who don’t have a gambling addiction, it is usually clear when enough is enough and they can walk away from their losses and get on with life. However, compulsive gamblers cannot do that; they keep coming back, driven by irrational beliefs of the big win.

However, gambling addiction is about much more than simply whether or not the person will win or lose. People who have a gambling addiction get a rush from gambling or a high, and this high is how they cope with negative feelings and life’s stressors. When they are gambling, the high they get from it makes them happy for a little while and distracts them from all their problems. It is known that pathological gamblers get this high whether they are winning or losing. The act of gambling is all they need.

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Myth 4: If You Can Afford It, Compulsive Gambling Isn’t Really a Problem

Fact: Compulsive gambling is a symptom of underlying emotional and coping problems.

Financial loss is only one of many negative consequences of compulsive gambling. People who struggle with gambling addiction often end up having serious problems in their relationships and at their jobs, and may neglect life’s obligations.

Pathological gambling is a progressive condition that tends to become increasingly consuming as time goes by. This fact is especially true in times of stress or low mood, as gambling becomes a way of coping. Eventually, almost all pathological gamblers suffer life-changing financial loss unless they get help in time.

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Myth 5: Compulsive Gamblers Play Every Day

Fact: Gambling addiction can be continuous or episodic.

Many compulsive gamblers have dry periods without any betting. However, gambling addiction is chronic and progressive, so for many pathological gamblers, it eventually becomes a daily activity unless they seek and accept help.

An obsessive-compulsive preoccupation with gambling characterizes pathological gambling. Over time, these obsessive thoughts about betting become increasingly more invasive and anxiety-provoking. The only way to relieve that anxiety is by gambling, which is the compulsion that is coupled with the obsession.

Similar to people who struggle with drug addiction, pathological gamblers experience tolerance, meaning that they require increasing amounts of the activity to satisfy their obsession and to get the same high. They also experience increasing amounts of withdrawal, which is the low mood and irritability they feel when they are not gambling. As these effects worsen, gambling usually increases as a result, and the addiction progresses.

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Myth 6: Knowing a Game Well Increases Your Odds of Winning

Fact: Gambling games are designed to not have any aspect that will increase the odds of winning purely out of knowledge or skill.

Gambling games become absorbing for gamblers. Psychologists refer to “dark flow” as the state where the player becomes so immersed in a game that everything outside of it becomes irrelevant. This “dark flow” state is highly associated with addiction to the game and is designed to occur as people get to know a game by playing the same game for an extended period.

All gambling games are heavily favored for the house, which is why casino owners become so wealthy and the gamblers do not. If a game was not heavily in favor of the house, it would never become popular, because no casino, lottery or gambling website would want it. Whether or not someone knows a game well doesn’t change that fact.

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Myth 7: There Are “Hot” and “Cold” Slot Machines

Fact: Slot machines are programmed to promote problematic play and win for the house.

Slot machines are a particularly dangerous form of gambling because they are programmed with the most addictive form of VRRS schedule. Additionally, they are programmed to operate on a principle known as loss disguised as a win (LDW). This effect happens when a player is given a “win” of credits with a spin, but fewer credits than the original wager. The psychological effect is that these frequent wins keep the player engaged, despite a net loss.

Both the single-line slots (the traditional slots) and the more modern multi-line slots are programmed to give LDW “wins” in a specific payback percentage, but it is always less than 100% and certainly not above 100%, meaning that the house always wins. There are no “hot” slot machines, only “cold” ones.

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Myth 8: Gambling Is Only a Financial Problem

Fact: Gambling addiction causes problems that extend well beyond financial losses.

As their tolerance and withdrawal effects intensify, people who struggle with gambling addiction spend more and more time in their gambling activities, and in seeking money to support their addiction.

Normal activities and responsibilities become neglected because of the amount of time required to satisfy the addiction. They begin missing work and are frequently absent from home. Even sleep becomes affected as they pull “all-nighters” gambling.

This time commitment can have effects beyond financial loss, such as:

  • Career-related consequences: being written up at work or losing a job
  • Relationship stress: financial stress, job loss, and frequent absence are not conducive to healthy relationships, and can devastate families
  • Social isolation: friends and family are tired of being asked for loans and maybe pushed away as the gambler becomes increasingly secretive
  • Arrest and criminal charges: for illegal activities used to finance gambling
  • Physical health problems: lack of sleep or self-care
  • Mental health problems: depressionanxiety, and emotional distress

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Myth 9: All Gamblers Engage in Criminal Behavior

Fact: Gamblers who seek and accept help can recover before they have to resort to criminal activity to finance their gambling.

If pathological gamblers continue with the addiction long enough, frequently the result is criminal behavior to finance the gambling habit. The most common gambling-related crimes are non-violent, financially motivated offenses:

  • Theft
  • Selling drugs
  • Forgery
  • Embezzlement

Typically, they will rationalize their crime as borrowing money. For example, if the person forges a check, takes money from the workplace or steals from a neighbor, they might rationalize the act by convincing themselves that they will return the money, usually after a big win at the casino.

However, not all crimes that compulsive gamblers are engaged in are financially motivated and non-violent. The three risky behaviors of substance abuse, gambling, and crime are known to be closely associated and often co-occur.

Some gambling crime statistics compiled by Georgia State University include:

  • About 50% of compulsive gamblers commit crimes
  • 73% of incarcerated felons are pathological or problem gamblers
  • Pathological gamblers are more than three times more likely to be arrested than non-problem gamblers, and more than seven times than non-gamblers
  • Only 5% of incarcerated pathological gamblers have ever gotten help for it

Myth 10: Teens Don’t Gamble, Only Older People Gamble Especially Now That Some States Have Legal Online Sports-Betting – It’s Touching Teens!


Fact: Gambling is a bigger problem among teens than it is in adults.

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Please, GO VISIT AND LEARN HOW It Is Touching our TEENS atRecovery Village Center”  

 

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MY MEMOIR IS NOT “HOW” TO RECOVER, IT IS THE “WHY” I TURNED TO ADDICTED GAMBLING … Ebook on sale only $2.99 Now On Amazon Kindle.

A Win For Slowing Online Sports Gambling Options! An Article of Bravery By The NY Times Shares as a New York State of Appeals Court Rules The Future of Fantasy Sportsbetting Contests into DOUBT.

A Win For Slowing Online Sports Gambling Options! An Article of Bravery By The NY Times Shares as a New York State of Appeals Court Rules The Future of Fantasy Sportsbetting Contests into DOUBT.

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Through all the hard work of advocacy and supporting the team and director, Les Bernal and others involved with “The Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation.”
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We finally have WIN and movement toward slowing down the online sports betting venue of Fantasy Football and FanDuel! So much has come from the team of Les’s within Washington D.C. of hitting legislation hard to change the way they illegally advertise, offer, and prey on those who have gambling problems. So much so that ‘The New York Times’ has done an amazing article all about it.
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I’ll leave that to Les Bernal to share the news with this announcement I got by Email Today and Share The Story from The NY Times…

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Stop Predatory Gambling

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Dear Catherine,

Victims of state government’s commercialized gambling scheme experienced a major legal win yesterday in NY. Here is The New York Times coverage of the court decision declaring so-called “daily fantasy sports” (DFS) for what it really is: commercialized gambling.

The New York State Constitution puts the power to expand gambling into the hands of the people, requiring a statewide vote. The NY Legislature, in partnership with powerful financial interests who stood to benefit from this latest form of commercialized gambling, tried to avoid this constitutional requirement when it pushed through a bill adding DFS to its existing wealth-extraction arsenal of lottery scratch tickets, electronic Quick Draw (i.e. Keno), regional casinos, and slot machine parlors.

This victory is a direct result of the hard work and talent of Attorney Neil Murray. Despite the heavy demands of his practice, Neil has sacrificed an enormous amount of his time over the last twenty years to act against the injustice, poverty, and life-changing harm caused by commercialized gambling, especially in his home state of NY. This remarkable effort is his most recent achievement.

The lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law was coordinated by Stop Predatory Gambling. It was filed on behalf of four plaintiffs who had suffered personal or family harm from gambling debts resulting from commercialized gambling promoted by the state.

Commercialized gambling is America’s biggest most-neglected problem. At a time when more than 60% of our citizens have less than $1000 in savings, people are on a collision course to lose more than $1 trillion of personal wealth to commercialized gambling over the next eight years. Our vision and plan is to reduce that financial harm by 50% during that span.

The work of Attorney Murray moved us one step closer to achieving this goal. You can read the full decision here.

All The Best,

……
Les Bernal
National Director
Stop Predatory Gambling

____________________________________

Who We Are —

– A 501c3 non-profit based in Washington, DC, we are a national social reform network of citizens and organizations from across the U.S.

– We believe in improving the lives of the American people with compassion and fairness, freeing us from the impoverishment, exploitation, and fraud that commercialized gambling spreads.

– We are one of the most diverse organizations in the United States, one in which conservatives and progressives work side-by-side to improve the common good.

What We Stand For —

– We believe everyone should have a fair opportunity to get ahead and improve their future.

– We believe every person’s life has worth and that no one is expendable.

– We believe that a good society depends on the values of honesty, concern for others, mutual trust, self-discipline, sacrifice, and a work ethic that connects effort and reward.

– We believe no government body should depend on predatory gambling to fund its activities.

If you share our beliefs, please help sustain our work by making a tax-deductible, financial gift today of $10 or mo

Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation
100 Maryland Avenue NE, Room 310  | Washington, District of Columbia 20002
(202) 567-6996 | les@stoppredatorygambling.org

Follow Us

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Fantasy Sports Contests Are Illegal Gambling, New York Appeals Court Rules

The court found that the law was unconstitutional, dealing a setback to sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings.  By 

A New York State appeals court on Thursday struck down most of a law that authorized fantasy sports in the state, dealing a setback to companies like FanDuel and DraftKings in one of their most lucrative markets.

The law, signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in August 2016, declared that fantasy sports did not constitute gambling and provided for consumer safeguards, minimum standards and the registration, regulation, and taxation of daily fantasy sports providers.

In October of that year, the law was challenged by four New York residents who said they had been harmed by gambling, including one woman, Jennifer White, whose father regularly patronized off-track betting facilities in Western New York while her mother was besieged by loan sharks and creditors.

Their lawsuit argued that the law carved out an illegal exemption to the State Constitution’s prohibition on gambling, which forbids the practice except for a few exceptions, including at a limited number of horse tracks and casinos.

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Legalizing daily fantasy sports, the lawsuit argued, would require a constitutional amendment approved by New York State voters, not a simple statutory change signed by the governor.

In 2018, Acting Justice Gerald W. Connolly of Albany County Supreme Court agreed with part of the lawsuit, holding that the law, to the extent that it authorized daily fantasy sports, violated the Constitution’s ban on gambling. At the same time, the court found that the Legislature had acted properly when it exempted daily fantasy sports from the penal code.

“On Thursday, the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division delivered a stronger ruling for the law’s opponents, finding both that the law was unconstitutional and that daily fantasy sports could not be exempted from the penal code.”

The ruling was based on the court’s finding that, while daily fantasy sports require skill, they also involve a degree of chance — such as whether a player might have an injury or illness or be affected by bad weather or poor officiating.

Cornelius D. Murray, who represents the four New Yorkers who brought the lawsuit, said he was pleased with the decision.

“As of today,” he said, “the legislation purporting to legalize daily fantasy sports is unconstitutional, so the penal law prohibiting it remains on the books.”

The office of the state attorney general, Letitia James, said it was reviewing the ruling and had no further comment. The governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

FanDuel said in a statement, “We expect that there will be an appeal and we’ll be able to continue to offer contests while that appeal is decided.”

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Image result for free image of Fanduel DraftKings

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DraftKings also issued a statement saying that “the legislative action authorizing fantasy sports in New York was constitutional and in the best interests of taxpayers and fantasy sports fans.”
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Robert S. Rosborough IV, a partner at Whiteman Osterman & Hanna who specializes in appellate litigation and who has followed the case, said the final determination on the law’s constitutionality was likely to be made by the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. Until then, he said, customers will still be able to play daily fantasy sports in New York.

“The games can continue while the state appeals, but the future is certainly in flux after this ruling,” Mr. Rosborough said.

The Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association, an industry group, estimates that 59 million people played fantasy sports in the United States and Canada in 2017 — more than double the 27 million who played in 2009. Two out of three were men, their average age was 32, and each user spent an average of $653 annually on the sites.

DraftKings and FanDuel, which operate in 43 states, including New York, together accounted for almost all of the $390 million in revenue generated by daily fantasy sports in 2019, according to Chris Krafcik, a managing director at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a research and consulting firm.

New York, with its large, sports-crazed and relatively wealthy population, is easily one of the three largest daily fantasy sports markets in the United States, alongside California and Texas, Mr. Krafcik said.

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A New York State appeals court ruling threw the future of fantasy sports contests into doubt.

 

What Will Maintaining Recovery Look Like For YOU in 2020? Have Goals or a New Year Resolution? Talk To Me and Share Them!

What Will Maintaining Recovery Look Like For YOU in 2020? Have Goals or a New Year Resolution? Talk To Me and Share Them!


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Now on Count Down As
My “Recovery Holiday Watch” Is Ending In A Few Days! . . . 

But I know all my friends, recovery posse and warriors know I am always available at any time of the year! 

What are my Recovery Goals in 2020?

Well, I will begin them LIKE THIS!

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NOW TELL ME YOURS IN My COMMENTS!

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~Catherine Lyon, Gambling Recovery Advocate & Writer …

Are Casino’s Enabling Those With a Gambling Problem Into Full-Blown Addiction? Read and You Decide. A Sad Gamblers Story.

Scott Stevens’s story is not anomalous. Given the guilt and shame involved, gambling addiction frequently progresses to profound despair. The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that one in five gambling addicts attempts suicide—the highest rate among addicts of any kind.

 

 

How Casinos Enable Gambling Addicts

Modern slot machines develop an unbreakable hold on many players—some of whom wind up losing their jobs, their families, and even, as in the case of Scott Stevens, their lives… (Courtesy of “The Atlantic” 2016 )

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On the morning of Monday, August 13, 2012, Scott Stevens loaded a brown hunting bag into his Jeep Grand Cherokee, then went to the master bedroom, where he hugged Stacy, his wife of 23 years. “I love you,” he told her.

Stacy thought that her husband was off to a job interview followed by an appointment with his therapist. Instead, he drove the 22 miles from their home in Steubenville, Ohio, to the Mountaineer Casino, just outside New Cumberland, West Virginia. He used the casino ATM to check his bank-account balance: $13,400. He walked across the casino floor to his favorite slot machine in the high-limit area: Triple Stars, a three-reel game that cost $10 a spin. Maybe this time it would pay out enough to save him.

It didn’t. He spent the next four hours burning through $13,000 from the account, plugging any winnings back into the machine, until he had only $4,000 left. Around noon, he gave up.

Stevens, 52, left the casino and wrote a five-page letter to Stacy. A former chief operating officer at Louis Berkman Investment, he gave her careful financial instructions that would enable her to avoid responsibility for his losses and keep her credit intact: She was to deposit the enclosed check for $4,000; move her funds into a new checking account; decline to pay the money he owed the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas; disregard his credit-card debt (it was in his name alone); file her tax returns and sign up for Social Security survivor benefits. He asked that she have him cremated.

He wrote that he was “crying like a baby” as he thought about how much he loved her and their three daughters. “Our family only has a chance if I’m not around to bring us down any further,” he wrote. “I’m so sorry that I’m putting you through this.”

He placed the letter and the check-in an envelope drove to the Steubenville post office and mailed it. Then he headed to the Jefferson Kiwanis Youth Soccer Club. He had raised funds for these green fields, tended them with his lawnmower, and watched his daughters play on them.

Stevens parked his Jeep in the gravel lot and called Ricky Gurbst, a Cleveland attorney whose firm, Squire Patton Boggs, represented Berkman, where Stevens had worked for 14 years—until six and a half months earlier when the firm discovered that he had been stealing company funds to feed his gambling habit and fired him.

Stevens had a request: “Please ask the company to continue to pay my daughters’ college tuition.” He had received notification that the tuition benefit the company had provided would be discontinued for the fall semester. Failing his daughters had been the final blow.

Gurbst said he would pass along the request.

Then Stevens told Gurbst that he was going to kill himself.

“What? Wait.”

“That’s what I’m going to do,” Stevens said and promptly hung up.

He next called J. Timothy Bender, a Cleveland tax attorney who had been advising him on the IRS’s investigation into his embezzlement. Up until that point, he had put on a brave face for Bender, saying he would accept responsibility and serve his time. Now he told Bender what he was about to do. Alarmed, Bender tried to talk him out of it. “Look, this is hard enough,” Stevens said. “I’m going to do it.” Click.

At 4:01 p.m., Stevens texted Stacy. “I love you.” He then texted the same message to each of his three daughters in succession.

He took off his glasses, his glucose monitor, and his insulin pump—Stevens was a diabetic—and tucked them neatly into his blue thermal lunch bag with the sandwich and apple he hadn’t touched.

He unpacked his Browning semiautomatic 12-gauge shotgun, loaded it, and sat on one of the railroad ties that rimmed the parking lot.

Then he dialed 911 and told the dispatcher his plan.

Scott Stevens hadn’t always been a gambler. A native of Rochester, New York, he earned a master’s degree in business and finance at the University of Rochester and built a successful career. He won the trust of the steel magnate Louis Berkman and worked his way up to the position of COO in Berkman’s company. He was meticulous about finances, both professionally and personally. When he first met Stacy, in 1988, he insisted that she pay off her credit-card debt immediately. “Your credit is all you have,” he told her.

They married the following year, had three daughters, and settled into a comfortable life in Steubenville thanks to his position with Berkman’s company: a six-figure salary, three cars, two country-club memberships, vacations to Mexico. Stevens doted on his girls and threw himself into causes that benefited them. In addition to the soccer fields, he raised money to renovate the middle school, to build a new science lab, and to support the French Club’s trip to France. He spent time on weekends painting the high-school cafeteria and stripping the hallway floors.

“Stevens got his first taste of casino gambling while attending a 2006 trade show in Las Vegas. On a subsequent trip, he hit a jackpot on a slot machine and was hooked.”

Scott and Stacy soon began making several trips a year to Vegas. She liked shopping, sitting by the pool, even occasionally playing the slots with her husband. They brought the kids in the summer and made a family vacation of it by visiting the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, and Disneyland. Back home, Stevens became a regular at the Mountaineer Casino.

Over the next six years, his gambling hobby became an addiction. Though he won occasional jackpots, some of them six figures, he lost far more—as much as $4.8 million in a single year.

Did Scott Stevens die because he was unable to rein in his own addictive need to gamble? Or was he the victim of a system carefully calibrated to prey on his weakness?

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Scott methodically concealed his addiction from his wife. He handled all the couple’s finances. He kept separate bank accounts. He used his work address for his gambling correspondence: W-2Gs (the IRS form used to report gambling winnings), wire transfers, casino mailings. Even his best friend and brother-in-law, Carl Nelson, who occasionally gambled alongside Stevens, had no inkling of his problem. “I was shocked when I found out afterward,” he says. “There was a whole Scott I didn’t know.”

When Stevens ran out of money at the casino, he would leave, write a company check on one of the Berkman accounts for which he had check-cashing privileges, and return to the casino with more cash. He sometimes did this three or four times in a single day. His colleagues did not question his absences from the office, because his job involved overseeing various companies in different locations. By the time the firm detected irregularities and he admitted the extent of his embezzlement, Stevens—the likable, responsible, trustworthy company man—had stolen nearly $4 million.

Stacy had no idea. In Vegas, Stevens had always kept plans to join her and the girls for lunch. At home, he was always on time for dinner. Saturday mornings, when he told her he was headed into the office, she didn’t question him—she knew he had a lot of responsibilities. So she was stunned when he called her with bad news on January 30, 2012. She was on the stairs with a load of laundry when the phone rang.

“Stace, I have something to tell you.”

She heard the burden in his voice. “Who died?”

“It’s something I have to tell you on the phone -because I can’t look in your eyes.”

He paused. She waited.

“I might be coming home without a job today. I’ve taken some money.”

“For what?”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“How much? Ten thousand dollars?”

“No.”

“More? One hundred thousand?”

“Stace, it’s enough.”

Stevens never did come clean with her about how much he had stolen or about how often he had been gambling. Even after he was fired, Stevens kept gambling as often as five or six times a week. He gambled on his wedding anniversary and on his daughters’ birthdays. Stacy noticed that he was irritable more frequently than usual and that he sometimes snapped at the girls, but she figured that it was the fallout of his unemployment.

When he headed to the casino, he told her he was going to see his therapist, that he was networking, that he had other appointments. When money appeared from his occasional wins, he claimed that he had been doing some online trading. While they lived off $50,000 that Stacy had in a separate savings account, he drained their 401(k) of $150,000, emptied $50,000 out of his wife’s and daughters’ ETrade accounts, maxed out his credit card, and lost all of a $110,000 personal loan he’d taken out from PNC Bank.

“Stacy did not truly understand the extent of her husband’s addiction until the afternoon three police officers showed up at her front door with the news of his death.”

Afterward, Stacy studied gambling addiction and the ways slot machines entice customers to part with their money. In 2014, she filed a lawsuit against both Mountaineer Casino and International Game Technology, the manufacturer of the slot machines her husband played. At issue was the fundamental question of who killed Scott Stevens.

Did he die because he was unable to rein in his own addictive need to gamble? Or was he the victim—as the suit alleged—of a system carefully calibrated to prey upon his weakness, one that robbed him of his money, his hope, and ultimately his life?

Less than 40 years ago, casino gambling was illegal everywhere in the United States outside of Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

But since Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, tribal and commercial casinos have rapidly proliferated across the country, with some 1,000 now operating in 40 states. Casino patrons bet more than $37 billion annually—more than Americans spend to attend sporting events ($17.8 billion), go to the movies ($10.7 billion), and buy music ($6.8 billion) combined.

The preferred mode of gambling these days is electronic gaming machines, of which there are now almost 1 million nationwide, offering variations on slots and video poker. Their prevalence has accelerated addiction and reaped huge profits for casino operators. A significant portion of casino revenue now comes from a small percentage of customers, most of them likely addicts, playing machines that are designed explicitly to lull them into a trancelike state that the industry refers to as “continuous gaming productivity.”

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The Rest Of This Sad Story Can Be Read In THE ATLANTIC here: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/12/losing-it-all/505814/

It goes more in-depth on facts and studies of Slots and Electronic Gambling and HOW Casinos are attracting and making their profits of a small percentage of people like Mr. Stevens and many others with a problem or addicted gambler, including myself. I share this article because when I first read it, I saw myself when addicted to gambling. Especially the area of hiding what I was doing, controlling the money and paying bills that gave me ample ways to not only cash but also HIDING what I doing and was spending on my gambling.

“We Are Only As Sick As Our SECRETS” . . .  ~Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

 

 

Dual Addiction Happens. When Gambling Wasn’t Working Anymore, I began To Abuse Alcohol & Right Be For My Suicide Attempt …And Why I Share It.

Dual Addiction Happens. When Gambling Wasn’t Working Anymore, I began To Abuse Alcohol & Right Be For My Suicide Attempt …And Why I Share It.

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If you go to meetings for support and an option of maintaining your recovery, “sitting in the rooms” you begin to realize many will turn to other forms of addictions from their main or real addiction due to our REAL problem is just not cutting it for us any longer. I did while deep into my gambling addiction as I was spiraling deeper and deeper into a dark hole, I began to abuse alcohol toward the last several months before my first and thankfully a failed suicide attempt.

Not trying to shock or scare anyone, I’m just keeping it real and to share that dual or cross addictions do and can happen. Sadly we may get to a point where our real addiction problems will stop working …And why I do share about alcohol abuse and addiction. Since we have read many times in mainstream media about several high profile people who had relapsed after long-term sobriety and just could not cope with the fact that it happened.

Even having depression and drinking can be a deadly combination that may NOT end well. Most of my recovery friends who visit here know I feel strongly and have shared many times the 12-step program model is not the only option for those to maintain and reach long-term recovery. No, I am not downplaying the importance of the 12-steps, what I am urging is that you find all and anything to help you gain a long-term rest of your life path from addiction.

And as usual, I came across an article that leans toward my experiences with my alcohol use and overall recovery path. As we always say; “work your treatment choices and recovery path in what works for you and take what you need and leave the rest”…

I hope you may do that with this Guest Article Share From “The Fix Mag” written by, Jowita Bydlowska …  ~Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Advocate/Author

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Happy Destiny or a Life Sentence: Thoughts on Leaving AA …


“If you do decide to leave, there are many alternatives to AA, places where you can meet likeminded people, share your experience, and make social connections just as in 12-step meetings.”

I don’t know if I’ve left Alcoholics Anonymous for good, but it’s been a while since I’ve been to a meeting. In the past, I’ve left for long periods of time and then come back. I’d come back because I missed the people, yet the “simple” program confused me more and more. Still, I loved making connections. Even though I’m not a group-type of person, it was obvious to me that the “magic” of the whole thing was being able to relate to people with a similar problem and helping one another. 

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I’ve had slips while very much in as well as while out of the program. I’ve slipped after months of not going to meetings, but I’ve also taken a drink right after an AA retreat. There were years where I did the steps and stayed sober and years when I didn’t do the steps and stayed sober. For those reasons, I might not be the best judge of the effectiveness or the harm of AA. I know of many people who stayed in and flourished, many who stayed and relapsed and came back, and many who have left and are still sober despite keeping their distance.
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AA has always been controversial. It keeps even the most hopeless drunks abstinent, but it’s known for its dogma and ritualistic—some say cult-like—practices. It has saved many people (although there are no reliable statistics) from death from substance use disorder, and it’s helped to mend many families and relationships. Attending AA is also frequently court-mandated for those charged with Driving Under the Influence and other alcohol-related convictions, including domestic violence. For many years AA seemed to be the only effective solution for those who wanted to keep abstinent from alcohol or other drugs. 
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But I’ve noticed a shift, and it’s been happening for a while. As new programs and methods of getting clean and sober pop up on the horizon, some AA members choose to leave despite the ominous farewells of members who believe that leaving AA always equals a relapse. It’s no accident that one of AA’s most popular slogans is “Keep Coming Back!” The way I used to interpret it was that the AA’s door was always open but later, as I became a little disillusioned, it read as if I was doomed to rely solely on AA as a place to recover. I was terrified to leave. Often it felt as if I was nailed to those plastic chairs by fear. 

“So I stayed. It started to feel like a life sentence.”

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Ego Deflation

David D. Bohl, addictions specialist and author of the acclaimed memoir Parallel Universes, left AA recently. He says, “I went to a hospital to check in because they told me I was going to have seizures if I didn’t. I had medically monitored and supervised detox. That was the beginning of my stabilization. And then they sent me to an inpatient or a residential treatment facility that included 12-step facilitation. So I stabilized in treatment and through the 12 steps.” Bohl got sober in AA but it took a long time before he was able to address other issues, such as his trauma due to adoption. 

Today, Bohl believes he would have healed faster if he’d had more access to other resources—such as ongoing therapy—on top of having to go to meetings. For him, the side effect of being in AA was “ego deflation.” 

“No one gave me informed consent that if you don’t have ego strength, this could destroy you. You come to AA and don’t know where to go from there. No one explained that to me. So, had I known that there were (other resources) out there and offer other forms of support, knowing that I had no ego strength, I would’ve gone another route. I would have opted for something else, no doubt about it. The message that I was hearing–whether it’s an AA message or not–is that because of my lack of ego strength, AA was the only safe place for me. And my experience was: ‘if you fail at this, David, you failed at everything. Even not just sobriety. You failed at connecting with people. You failed at life.’

Alternatives to AA

If you do decide to leave, there are many alternatives to AA, places where you can meet likeminded people, share your experience, and make social connections just as in 12-step meetings. Currently, I’m attending a group that applies Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and offers trauma therapy among its methods. The members are free to respectfully comment on each other’s shares (this is discouraged in AA).

In SMART Recovery, which is commonly suggested as an alternative to AA, there is sharing and a sense of community, but there is an official facilitator and you graduate when you’ve completed the program. There is also Refuge Recovery, which uses some Buddhist teachings and meditation, as well as sharing. Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a network of groups devoted to sobriety and abstinence.

And there are brand-new programs like She Recovers (founded in 2017) that just deal with recovery in general, be it from trauma, an eating disorder, or addiction. Google “leaving AA” and you’ll get hundreds of happily-ever-after accounts, as well as resources devoted to helping you find an alternative method of obtaining and sustaining recovery and making connections with other sober people.

I haven’t closed the door on the 12-step program yet. I will still go to meetings and I will keep the friendships I’ve made. But I’m also surrounding myself with other programs, groups, and methods because I need some extra mental-health padding to feel fully realized and like I can rejoin the world, sober.

I’ve realized that Alcoholics Anonymous is not the only road to recovery.


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Jowita Bydlowska is a copywriter and author living in Toronto. She is the author of Drunk Mom: A Memoir. You can find her on Linkedin.

 

COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: A SAD TALE. My Recovery Guest Spotlight Shines on David S. Recovering Gambler Like Me …

A must-read ‘Gambler’s Tale’ from a new recovery friend I have met. As a matter of fact, my friend David gave me permission to share the whole post which I will do right below the REBLOG for all my recovery supporters and blog friends. WHY? It not often I meet other recovering compulsive gamblers who will speak about their addiction and recovery due to the continued STIGMA around this cunning disease!

So, meet my new friend David S. and please visit and follow him on “DAVIDS PLACE”…

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A COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: A Sad Tale ~ By David S.

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Back in 1947 my Mom and Dad had sex. I was the result and now I sit in my little apartment almost 70 years later barely surviving. What a remarkable unforced error that act of love created. I have had a life filled with many wonderful benefits that most can only dream of. Yet, I have screwed it all up.
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I was born into a family where there were already two older brothers twelve and thirteen years my seniors. Then, when I was only twelve, my daddy suddenly dropped dead leaving my two older brothers in charge of a very profitable family business that they already had been working in. My mom, myself and the two brothers all were willed equal parts of the business and of my end being entrusted to my mom until I was twenty-five…
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I was not a normal kid at all. I hated school and was always in trouble. I was not a bad boy just a clown and a spoiled brat. I did not care about school unlike my group of upper-middle-class friends who mostly went on to become lawyers and doctors. I continually flunked courses and barely graduated on time. I only cared about playing ball and gambling.
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I developed a pathological taste for gambling the first time I ever felt the rush of it. Gambling instantly became and continued to be my greatest love. That has a lot to do with why I am severely depressed, alone, and lonely most of the time.  I lost my mental health along with a fortune  Thanks to a wealthy family and a rich lover who now treats me as her child I survive nicely.
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I was about eleven when I started playing poker with my little friends. I almost always lost because I was a compulsive gambler from the get-go. I was also a terrible gambler. I could not ever stop playing until I lost all my money.  I bet on horses, craps, roulette, blackjack, and sports. I gambled at everything I could, even among other gamblers I was regarded as a chump.
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I finally surrendered to my powerlessness over gambling, quit, and started going to Gamblers Anonymous about nine years ago. I have not made a bet since 2009. Stopping gambling is my shining accomplishment of a mostly wasted life.
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Compulsive. gambling is the hardest addiction to give up. I know. I have also been addicted to cocaine, pot, alcohol, sex, and overeating… Gambling is the toughest and cruelest addiction. It is a silent destroyer… If you refuse to stop gambling you end up insane, in jail, or dead without anyone ever knowing. The compulsive gambler must get help. One cannot stop permanently on their own.
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I never had any reservations about losing all my money because my rich mom could never say no to refilling my empty pockets after my desperate marathon crying sessions to her… She bailed me out of debt time after time for years. When I was about twenty-three I went into the family business. I was given a fat salary, a car, a nice office, insurance and they even paid my taxes. I should have been set for life.
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My middle brother Lou who I idolized forever because of his brains, athletic ability, popularity,  physical toughness, and total coolness set me up as an important employee. With a wave of his hand and an introduction to the gigantic staff, I was a new family member to be respected.
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My brother Lou set it up so that I had all the amenities of an important businessman at my fingertips. He wanted me to feel good so I would be happy and make the business lots of money. He had become my second father as soon as my dad died. Lou was always the brains of the growing and continually more successful family business.
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Lou has been the ultimate perfect person to me as long as I have been alive. He loved me so much when I was a little kid and took me with him everywhere. He was a great athlete, a good-looking very popular guy and smart as a whip. I idolized him. He has always been my hero. He has also always intimidated me brutally just by his presence. But, I have been trying to get his respect for my entire life. He is superman to me.
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He was a great golfer and very early on made me feel that manhood and golf were synonymous. I would stand and sweat as I stood in the tee box as he watched me dribble out one pathetic shot after another every year on my birthday when he would take me out to play. I would wait for that one day all year and then play like crap. I cannot put in words my self-loathing for being incapable of hitting the ball well around him.
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I just froze as he watched me in the box. I would want to puke my guts up and throw a tantrum because of the frustration I felt walking down a fairway after fairway while playing like crap. Lou never commented as I fumbled around the golf course. His silent acceptance of my inability made it worse. Ironically, I was actually a very good golfer away his presence.
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He knew I was a gambler.  He was a gambler too but not a compulsive gambler like I am. I made no secret of my gambling. I was constantly telling Lou war stories of my gambling exploits. He was indifferent not knowing how sick of a gambler I really was and how much money I had been getting from my mom to cover debts and gamble with …
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Then my mom finally busted me. She had run out of patience with my episodes of nagging and crying for cash. She explained to Lou how much of a degenerate I was. I had gone through $350,000 of her money in a few years. I was only twenty-four and also making a good salary and totally broke and in heavy debt.
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Lou walked into my office, leaned over my desk and hit me in the mouth without saying a word. I fell out of my chair bleeding and looked up at him. He said “I just talked to mom”. . . he wrapped his hand around my neck and screamed that I would be fired from my cushy, no brainer, very well paid sales job in the family business and never get a dime of the equity I was going to inherit if he ever heard of me gambling again.
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Then, he said the worst thing he had ever said to me. He told me that he was giving up on me forever.  He screamed that I was on my own and never look to him for anything. “We’re finished”, he screamed as I shook.  He spoke words I dreaded but hoped never would be spoken to me. He said that I had been a failure in everything my whole life. He said he thought I would straighten out after coming into the family business but that he was wrong.
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I did not know my ownership of the business could not lawfully be confiscated and I believed he could do anything he said, he could.  I also lived for his approval with everything I did. I loved him so.
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Now, he had defined every fear of his opinion of me. I felt at the time as my self-esteem went to zero. I wanted his respect and admiration all my life. I thought I had lost any chance of getting it back. I decided to try to prove myself anyway. I was determined to become a good employee and a respectable human being.
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I stopped gambling for a day or two but I could not stay stopped … as I began stealing, lying, embezzling, and doing everything else I could think of to sneakily keep myself in action. I ended up stealing over $200.000 from the business over the next three years. Plus, I owed a fortune to friends and relatives. Also, I had started borrowing from juice men (loan sharks) …They were chasing me and I was scared.
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I finally confessed to Lou what I had done when I was terrified as the bad guys were chasing me to get paid. He said nothing. He just stared at me with the look of a person who was DEAD to him. He only asked how much I owed the loan guys. He settled with them.  Then, he pointed to the door for me to leave and I did not say a word as I walked out knowing I was finished with me …
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Jack, the other brother just sat there smiling watching the whole show from his fancy desk.. Jack had always hated me and bullied me my entire life until one fateful day when he tried to intimidate me and I responded by smacking him in his big nose.

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“From then on we never spoke in any form for the rest of his eighty-two years.”

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He rode Lou’s coat-tails his entire life as he had gotten rich because of Lou. Jack and his family acted like Jack had made his millions with his own brains.  He was actually just window dressing who had been born right. He knew that I knew he was a fraud and I reminded him with many sarcastic remarks.
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Lou was stuck with him but he never demeaned or embarrassed him because Lou did not need to do that. He was too classy.  His ego was solid as a rock as it should have been. Everyone knew that Jack would be selling shoes part-time and need 10 other jobs just to make ends meat if not for Lou’s brains.
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Everyone except Jack’s three kids and loudmouth wife knew he was a just putz …He was in the business only because of his inheritance and his role was to do simple things only and to be quiet, be happy and to live under Lou’s leadership. It always remained a mystery to myself and many others that Lou did not figure a way to get Jack out of the business. But Lou accepted Jack as his fate. However, I went on. I drove a cab, did some odd jobs, and kept trying to make a score gambling with whatever money I could find. As a few years passed.

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“Then, one night I met Julie, the girl of my dreams.”

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I soon realized that I wanted a normal life. A few weeks after meeting Julie I walked back into the family business and into Lou’s office. He never looked up at me. “What?” he asked quietly. ” I would like you to give me a chance and give me my job back” He stayed silent.
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“Please, I muttered. “I’m in love” “I need another chance,” He said quietly “Go sit down and go to work.”  I loved him more than ever. “OK,” I blurted out smiling widely. He still had not looked at me. I again believed I could make everything right with him, with Julie, and make a life …

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‘But, I still loved gambling more than anything including myself’ …

Davids Place

Back in 1947 my Mom and Dad had sex. I was the result and now I sit in my a little apartment almost 70 years later barely surviving. What a remarkable unforced error that act of love created.

I have had a life filled with  many wonderful benefits that most can only dream of. Yet, I have screwed it all up.

I was born into a family where there were already two older brothers twelve and thirteen years my seniors. Then, when I was only twelve daddy suddenly dropped dead leaving my two older brothers in charge of a very profitable family business which they already had been working in. My mom, myself, and the two brothers all were willed equal parts of the business with my end being entrusted to my mom till I was twenty-five..

I was not a normal kid at all. I hated school and was…

View original post 1,692 more words

Oregonians Are Sharing Education 4 March Being Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Guest Article from KLEAN Treatment Centers.

 

MORE OREGONIANS BECOMING GAMBLING ADDICTS

 

People in Oregon are having a difficult time with the Oregon Lottery machines. There is not a problem with the actual games, per say, but many people are becoming hooked on gambling. They are no longer playing for the chance at winning a jackpot or even the thrill of winning. More Oregonians are gambling for the very same reasons that people do drugs, escaping boredom or stressful lives.

The result of this rise in gambling addiction is more people feeling riddled with guilt, shame, and even suicide because they have resorted to stealing from their kid’s piggy banks, pawing their valuables, lying, and pilfering from employers.

Damage Takes a Toll

People in Oregon are spending billions of dollars into state-owned video machines, feeding a revenue stream that goes to schools, parks, and other programs. It has actually become a public health issue. Figures gathered by the Oregon Health Authority offer clues that the misery is far more widespread than lottery officials are willing to acknowledge, according to an article in The Oregonian newspaper.

Statistics

It is estimated that there are an estimated 81,000 problem or pathological gamblers in Oregon. The state Addictions and Mental Health Services says that these gambling habits severely disrupt their lives. In 2012, 1,321 adults sought treatment for gambling addiction. The average gambling debt is $26,738 and the average household income is $32,140

In its latest diagnostic manual, the American Psychiatric Association this year revised its definition of problem gambling from an impulse-control disorder to clear-cut addiction similar to drug abuse and alcoholism. Some women share their stories . . .

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Catherine Lyon

Catherine Lyon is an author, writer, and advocate who now lives in the Phoenix, AZ area. She had lived in So. Oregon over 24+yrs and become addicted to the video poker/Slot games on these machines and used them as a form of “escape and cope” from her past underlying issues from childhood sexual abuse and undiagnosed PTSD and other disorders. When the money ran out, she pawned, sold, stole, and lied just to get more money to gamble. “I wrote my story in a book, a memoir, so others could learn some of the roots and have an in-depth look as to why I turned to addicted gambling. It is a very devastating disease and is having a negative impact in our communities across America.”

Kitty Martz

Kitty Martz, 44, a recovering video poker and slot addict who lives in Northwest Portland said, “The wins are often far more dangerous than the demoralizing, self-loathing losses. It creates this oasis of belief.” Martz was married to a wealthy man and went to divorced, homeless in Portland while she ran Burnside bars spending her last dollars on lottery machines.

Bonnie Sample

Bonnie Sample, a Gresham mother who owned a house-cleaning service, says she turned to video poker machines to get a break from raising a son with Asperger’s. She would gamble if she had $100 on her. When that ran out, she would gamble if she could scrape together $10 by shoplifting and returning an item to Fred Meyer, by selling her plasma, sometimes by begging on the street. She said, “I cared about nothing and no one but feeding the machine and keeping myself in that action.”

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Today I was able to share my advocacy on a fantastic and informative Radio Show called “Rise Above” with Mac Mullings and broadcast on iHeart Radio and KOKC from Oklahoma City. Here is the link and how it went!
Come take a watch: “Rise Above Radio KOKC Live”

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~Catherine Lyon

September Is National Recovery Month. My Thoughts and a Wee Bit of Venting…

September Is National Recovery Month. My Thoughts and a Wee Bit of Venting…

As we celebrate National Recovery Month another year, not much has seemed to change regarding addiction. The opioid epidemic and alcoholism rates are still rising, just as more expansion has been rising with more gambling options being legalized like the one for legal online sports betting now in several states.

So how does recovery fit into this as we are losing more and more lives to all addictions every day? Why are we celebrating when it seems all addictions are getting out of control instead of better? I feel our Government needs to step up and take some part of the ownership and accountability of this problem as they don’t seem to be doing enough and just side kicking it to all the individual states in the US to handle it “on there own.”

“This to me and to many in the addiction and recovery arena and to me is just unacceptable” …

My good friend Ryan Hampton from ‘United to Face Addiction’ and ‘The Voices Project’ has worked tirelessly, including on Capitol Hill to get laws changed and put new laws and legislation on the books regarding opioid epidemic and treatment, rehabs, and sober living facilities. To force higher standards that will actually help those looking to recover. We need more longer-term after-care for those who reach out for recovery. Not just paid for and only a 28-day treatment stay. This DOES include gambling addiction and treatment where Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling lays out in this article …

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Is it wrong for the addiction/recovery community, parents, advocates, feel that our Government could be doing more? Is it not right for me if I was still an addict to ask for a longer treatment stay for free and not be in bondage of the Insurance Companies on how I chose to be free from any addiction? We all know most cannot afford addiction treatment is we have NO INSURANCE right? Even the cost alone if YOU HAVE INSURANCE is way too much for what we receive and WHY treatment is cut off by about the 28th to 30 days benchmark.

So how do we change this arena? Many advocates and those who work out in the field know this is an area in desperate need of changing. Lord knows I don’t have the answers but I will continue to advocate loudly for these and many more changes. I tip my hat off to those like Ryan, Les, and even my co-writing partner Vance who travel all over the US, even to our White House to advocate loudly for change.

Change in how addicts get treatment paid for or if they have no insurance, and to shatter Stigma around those who do because STIGMA can prevent addicts to reach out and get help. It’s why I advocate and share a wealth of HOPE … I will close with this FB Post by Vance Johnson who is a recovering addict, former NFL Pro, and what he had to say that hit home for me. I am so blessed to be writing his memoir with me and to have him as a dear friend.  ~Catherine Lyon

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Whatever you misdiagnose, whether illness, relationships, even politics, you miss treating.  This post is deep so stick with me.

Recently I’ve run into a ton backlash and opposition with my 4.5 years being clean.

From family to friends and in between, some are convinced that I’m not clean for the right reasons. Start with Religion… Some think this new walk that I walk in Christ delivering me from the bondage of addiction is “Fake News” and only a reason for my new supposed found fame. I was addicted to fame, and fame made me drink and use drugs.

When I lost that fame and status as a pro-NFL player and after walking away from the game, I drank and drugged myself into a coma. Let’s move to Politics.

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I grew up around democrats, became independent, and decided at one point that only Republicans are true believers in God. I’m not dogging politics, it’s needed…. but what you misdiagnose you miss treating! Whether politics or religion, most of it can be agenda driven and being agenda driven can make you interpret circumstances incorrectly.

In relationships, you may have got information about your girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse, even your children that sheds a light on them that moves you directly into judgment. All because of your misdiagnoses and believing lies shaped in truth, that’s actually formed by an agenda.

Years of doubt, demonic interpretation has damaged your relationship. Although you see them never walk away from his or her commitment to love you, take care of your children and has never strayed.

Their devotion and walk in Christ echo their lifestyle. Don’t let religious or political prophecy become deluded or distorted by people saying they know what God is thinking.

In the Bible, Paul said lustfully pursue the gifts of the Spirit, especially that you may prophesy. I travel all over the country and share my testimony to thousands. I run into people all over, and the Spirit of God has led me to speak into people’s lives, and pray over them. I share the good news about what Christ has done for me in this new walk. I’ve seen miracles and lives touched while standing boldly redeemed and in conviction to Share Hope.

Thanks for letting go deep here, just wanted to share personal thoughts in this new transparent life I lead, to show myself approved in God’s eye, not man’s eyes… I encourage all of you to recognize what may be the spirit of deception.


You can think it’s a righteous stand while being “fed a lie.” No matter where the lie comes from.


Own your Faith, Own Your Sobriety.  ~Vance Johnson 


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Leave Your Kids In The Car While You Enjoy A Few Hours of Gambling In A Casino? You Are An Addicted Gambler …

Leave Your Kids In The Car While You Enjoy A Few Hours of Gambling In A Casino? You Are An Addicted Gambler …

“Just in case you didn’t hear or read about it. This woman needs HELP!”

ul 23, 2018

Milwaukee woman is accused of leaving five children, including a newborn, in a casino garage while she gambled.

Twenty-seven-year-old Takeshia Stanton is charged with five counts of criminal child neglect in connection with the July 2 incident.

Police say Stanton left the children for up to four hours in her parked car at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. The children vary in ages from 3 months to 13 years old.

Officers say the keys were in the ignition, the air conditioner was off and an envelope was wedged into the window so the windows could not be rolled down. The temperature was 80 degrees.


Police were called by casino security after a customer reported seeing the children unattended in the car.

It’s not clear if Stanton has an attorney.

 

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Casinos can be mesmerizing environments in which it is easy to lose track of time. Often, they do not display clocks. Some players imagine they will stay for a short period, only to find that hours have slipped away.

‘It’s a pretty common consequence of gambling addiction that you become so preoccupied that you lose track of time, so the kid stays in the car,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the The National Council on Problem Gambling. “They create an immersive environment where there is not a lot of outside stimuli.”


And there are loads of articles through the years of people leaving and abandoning their kids just to gamble.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/investigations/bs-bz-casinos-unattended-children-20170317-story.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/parents-abandon-girls-gamble-resorts-world-casino-article-1.2318972#

“Not Just In The USA”:
https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/children-are-being-left-unattended-for-long-periods-while-their-parents-are-betting/news-story/84ce662581021177fce356eb8cb69c4d

Does Your Spouse Have A Gambling Problem? Guest Post By Elements Behavioral Health Center.

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,


Today I have a special guest post by the fine folks of “Elements Behavioral Health Centers” with many center locations. They offer unique programs in different settings and offer programs in addiction and mental health. Why is this important? Like myself, we are seeing more people coming into recovery that also have mental health challenges.

And sometimes, these challenges can be part of the root to our addiction. They also have a gambling addiction treatment program as well. So if you know someone who needs help and they may be dually diagnosed? Please visit Elements Health as you will be in good hands. You can call for locations at 1-888-350-2457…

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How to Help Depressed Loved One 2

Confirming Your Suspicions: How to Know For Sure if Your Spouse Has a Gambling Problem

You’ve known for some time now that something is wrong, but you just can’t seem to find the courage to confront your spouse on the issue. What you do know is that he or she has been distant lately, and that, along with a few other signs, means that there’s a problem that needs dealing with. Sure, it could be anything. And you probably want to dismiss what you’re feeling, that gnawing suspicion that your spouse just might have a gambling problem.

How do you know for sure if it’s gambling? Here’s how to get a handle on the issue and confirm your suspicions.

Step Back and Try to Remain Objective

Before we go into the signs that experts say indicate an existing or growing problem with gambling, it’s important that you approach the situation with some sense of objectivity. This will no doubt be quite difficult to do. You’re caught up in what’s going on since you and your spouse live together. It would be unrealistic to think that you wouldn’t be affected by the type of behavior and negative consequences that come from problem gambling.

Still, you have to maintain impartiality if you’re going to be able to look at the situation and recognize the common signs. Otherwise, you’ll be falling into the trap of denial and dismissing what are to others obvious red flags. In any case, even though it’s tough to do, you really need to step back and try to remain objective.

What is Problem Gambling?

In order to look at what may be going on with your spouse relative to problem gambling, it’s necessary to define what problem gambling is. Problem gambling, compulsive or pathological gambling, are terms that are used to describe a behavior disorder that has a tendency to become progressively worse over time – unless it is treated.

There are specific diagnostic criteria for assessing problem gambling as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association. For the purpose of this article, we will be concentrating on the terms problem gambling and problem gambler. Their terms are meant to describe an individual whose gambling causes emotional, financial, psychological, marital, legal, or other difficulties for themselves and for those who live with and care about them.

It is important to make this distinction here because most experts generally view problem gambling as somewhat less serious than either compulsive or pathological gambling. But that doesn’t mean that problem gambling isn’t cause for worry. Problem gambling may lead to compulsive and then pathological gambling.

And, since problem gambling doesn’t exist in a vacuum, other addictive behaviors are commonly seen in a problem gambler. These may be a contributing factor or could arise out of the gambling behavior and include problems with drug abuse, alcohol, and/or addictive sex.

Types of Problem Gamblers

You may have not have heard the terms action gambler and escape gambler before but these are the two broad types of problem gamblers.

Action gamblers are typically men. They may have begun gambling when they were teenagers. Skill games are their preferred form of gambling, so they gravitate toward sports betting, poker, craps, dog racing and horse racing. What drives them is the belief that they are smarter than the system, and that they can consistently beat the odds and win.

Escape gamblers, on the other hand, generally drift into gambling a bit later in life. As the name implies, these gamblers get into the habit as a way of escaping their problems. Loneliness, depression, bad marriage, too much stress are some of the problems they’re trying to escape. Escape gamblers are typically women, but men can become escape gamblers as well. In any case, escape gamblers prefer a form of gambling that induces a hypnotic state of mind. These games include lottery, bingo, video poker and the slots.

Right off the bat, you may have some idea of whether or not your spouse falls into one of these categories of a problem gambler. If your spouse has always bet on football, frequently goes to the track, and has done so for most of his life, you’re already in the right ballpark to suspect that there may be a problem with gambling.

There is some research that suggests that people who grew up in families where gambling was prevalent tend to be more likely to gamble themselves. If the gambler in the family considered gambling as a way to solve problems, financial or otherwise, this attitude may be passed on to the children. In addition, people with a history of depression, hyperactivity, and mood swings may be more likely to gamble.

While there still needs to be much more research done in another area, children raised in families where the father is absent, whose parents are workaholics, are abusive, or where money is used to show either love or anger, may be more likely to develop into problem gamblers.

Problem Gambling Stages

Problem gambling progresses in stages. Some addiction experts separate it into three, four, five or more stages. We’ll simplify it into three stages.

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First, there is the winning stage. This is the period during which an individual discovers gambling, finds it exciting, intoxicating, a highly social and entertaining activity, and begins to see it as an escape from worry, stress, family or loneliness. The gambler may experience a few wins and begins to shower loved ones with gifts. He or she still has control over gambling at this point, meaning there is still money and the gambler isn’t resorting to extraordinary means to fund gambling. Life is good for the gambler in the winning stage. It will likely be the last time that this will exist.

The losing stage comes next. How quickly winning turns to losing varies – it could be extremely fast. No longer experiencing the consistent wins, the gambler becomes more preoccupied with gambling. They experience a need to make bigger bets, to bet more often. Money becomes an issue. All this begins to take an emotional toll on the gambler. Then, as losing continues, the gambler begins to “chase” the losses by making progressively bigger and more frequent bets even as he feels mounting guilt and shame over his actions.

It’s during the losing stage that credit cards get maxed out, insurance policies cashed in, items pawned or personal property sold, savings robbed, and retirement funds exhausted. Heavy borrowing becomes commonplace. The gambler starts missing work and lies to his or her family about gambling. A string of phony stories and lame excuses are offered to family and friends when the gambler gets jammed up and needs cash. What they’re looking for is a bailout in the vain attempt to recoup their losses.

The family begins to suspect – here’s where you come in – that there’s something really wrong. Creditors may start harassing the family demanding payment for past-due bills. Your mortgage may be past-due or perhaps one of the family cars is repossessed. The utility companies may even shut off services due to non-payment of bills.

Addiction experts say that it’s during the losing stage that many problem gamblers start calling gambling hotlines. If they recognize that their problem has reached a critical stage, they may be amenable to getting help. Unfortunately, many don’t stop gambling and progress to the next stage.

The final stage of problem gambling is called the desperation stage. As debts mount, his or her health shows signs that the stress is eating away. Insomnia is a frequent occurrence. Relationships deteriorate with the spouse, loved ones, close friends, and even co-workers or even worse they lose their job. Financial problems reach critical proportions. Eviction, foreclosure, and bankruptcy may occur.

The problem gambler has reached the end of the line. Feeling hopeless, powerless, depressed, filled with guilt, shame, and remorse, the problem gambler in the desperation stage may switch to escape gambler games for the purely hypnotic effect – anything to escape the intolerable reality his life has become. Some problem gamblers leave their family at this point, preferring to run away rather than face what they’ve done. Others attempt suicide. Still, others make the decision to finally get help.

What happens if the problem gambler continues in this desperate stage? Here’s where a fourth stage comes in. It’s known as the hopeless stage. Depression is common and suicide is often the only option the problem gambler sees at this point.

But let’s not think about the desperation stage right now. At this point, let’s look at some specific signs to confirm your suspicions and know for sure if your spouse has a problem with gambling.

Warning Signs of Problem Gambling

Since you live with your spouse or partner whom you believe to be gambling, be on the lookout for these warning signs.

  • Looking over the monthly statements for checking and savings accounts, you see withdrawals that you had no knowledge of.
  • Checks start bouncing and non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees add up.
  • Credit denial letters start arriving in the mail.
  • Items around the house start to disappear.
  • A flurry of collection notices arrive in the mail and creditors start calling demanding payment for past-due bills.
  • The bill for your spouse’s cell phone for calls and/or texts starts ratcheting up.
  • Your spouse is always secretive about money.
  • Despite having a job, your spouse always seems to be short of cash.
  • Your spouse may have taken over the bill paying, but you notice that only the minimum amount is being paid on bills.
  • Your loved one may become involved in very high-risk investing or starts frequently trading.
  • Despite the bills going unpaid, you discover your spouse has an unexpected and large amount of cash.
  • You notice that your wallet or purse is depleted of cash that you know was there, or your child says that money disappeared from his piggy bank.
  • Friends start asking when your spouse will pay back loans, or you find that there’s an increasing amount of payday or other unexpected loans that your spouse has taken out.

Problem gamblers also start experiencing difficulties at work that you may become aware of.

  • Missing work, arriving at work late and leaving early are typical signs of mounting problems with gambling.
  • Using sick days to get off work to gamble is another telltale sign.
  • Your spouse starts taking extended lunch periods or long breaks.
  • Your spouse’s boss comes down on him or her for failure to finish projects or tasks at all or on time.
  • Your spouse uses the company telephones for non-work related calls.
  • Co-workers report that your spouse is making calls related to gambling while at work.
  • Co-workers also may tell you that your spouse has asked to borrow money from them and takes an extreme interest in office pools, particularly sports pools.
  • Your spouse gets a reprimand for using office computers to gamble.
  • Cash advances on the company credit card used for gambling purposes, stealing or embezzling funds at work, and asking for frequent advances on a paycheck are other warning signs.

What You Can Do

Adding up all the warning signs, do you have your suspicions confirmed that your spouse has a problem with gambling? If the answer is yes, you have enough evidence to confront your spouse and ask that he or she get help for the problem. But is that a good move on your part at this point? What should you do, and in what sequence?

As the other partner in the marriage, you have a vested interest in keeping the union together. What happens to the family is very much dependent on the healthy relationship that the two of you share. When your spouse develops a problem with gambling, unless it’s treated, it could spiral from its current stage into an ever-increasing downward plunge.

Gambling addiction experts caution that encouraging your loved one to get treatment for a gambling problem may meet with a number of different reactions. First is denial. Your spouse will tell you anything he or she thinks you will believe in order to get you off the subject of gambling. There’s no problem. I’m not gambling. I can handle it. Stay out of my business. Everything will work out fine. These are just some of the statements you may hear. Of course, they’re probably lies. So you need to be diligent and persistent about trying to encourage your spouse to get treatment.

It won’t be easy. But you definitely don’t want the situation to get any worse than it already is. What you can do to help ease your own mind is learn all you can about how to deal with a spouse or loved one with a gambling problem. Look into a possible intervention with the help of professionals like Elements.

Consider joining Gam-Anon, the 12-step organization affiliated with Gamblers Anonymous. Gam-Anon is for the family and close friends of a gambler. Its sole purpose is to help assist you with the problems you face in your life due to your spouse’s gambling problem. It’s that simple, and that complex.

Maybe you don’t feel comfortable yet in actually going to a Gam-Anon meeting. Or, perhaps you’re afraid that your spouse will not take kindly to your attending. But you can go online and get answers to a great many questions you have, as well as find online and telephone support groups that can help you come to some reasonable way of dealing with your situation. No, it isn’t counseling, but it is support from others who are in the same position as you. These people know what it’s like to have a loved one consumed by gambling problems or addiction. They’ve learned how to cope, continue to encourage their spouse or loved ones to get help to overcome their addiction and, failing that, to mutually support each other so that life can go on.

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Gam-Anon meetings are safe places to bring up your current situation. No one will judge you. It is anonymous, so you don’t have to worry about others knowing who you are. You can laugh with others, cry, talk about what’s bothering you, ask for suggestions, and listen to the stories of others. This is a community of support – and it’s something that you need very much in learning how to cope with living with a problem gambler.

For now, just go online and check out the website. Look at the questions and answers. Download and print out or keep on a flash drive some of the Gam-Anon resources and publications. Check into some rehab facilities that treat gambling addiction or your States Lottery as they also have set aside money for treatment services and programs when others become addicted. 

Talk with a trusted friend, another family member, your minister or doctor. But do definitely seek some help for yourself. If you’ve confirmed your suspicions and are sure your spouse has a gambling problem, you can’t force him or her to do anything. But you can help yourself and be in a position to encourage your spouse to get treatment.

Bottom line: Reach out and get help for you. This may be the most important thing that you can do right now.
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“Presented by Gambling Recovery Starts Here!  ~  Catherine Townsend-Lyon”

“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.

Showgirls at the Welcome Sign - 8-15-07

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

 

Addicted and Problem Gambling Can Cost More Than Money . . .

Addicted and Problem Gambling Can Cost More Than Money . . .

“There is a reason why I often share that “Gambling Addiction” is now the #1 addiction with the highest suicide rate than any other form of addiction. It needs to be repeated, and my heart breaks when I read another story of “Suicide from Gambling Addiction” like this I’m sharing today.  Another family has been devastated and torn apart with another life taken by this cunning disease.”

I recently came across this article published by  The Atlantic Magazine that also asks the question, should casinos be legally held partially accountable for the financial crisis and death by suicide of an addicted gambler? In this sad case, I do feel they should be. And I feel the spouse or family who may not have known how bad the gambling problem was, or what other negative activities took place by the addict in which to find money to gamble with because they are sick and making poor choices within one’s addiction.

The casinos do entice many to “Come, Play, and Win Big” in many of the commercials and I have read how casinos or places that have legal gambling use many tactics to keep gamblers playing longer. So, read this and share how you feel about legal action in my comment section. I’d love to know what you think.

How Casinos Enable Gambling Addicts

Modern slot machines develop an unbreakable hold on many players—some of whom wind up losing their jobs, their families, and even, as in the case of Scott Stevens, their lives.

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JOHN ROSENGREN    DECEMBER 2016 ISSUE

On the morning of Monday, August 13, 2012, Scott Stevens loaded a brown hunting bag into his Jeep Grand Cherokee, then went to the master bedroom, where he hugged Stacy, his wife of 23 years. “I love you,” he told her.

Stacy thought that her husband was off to a job interview followed by an appointment with his therapist. Instead, he drove the 22 miles from their home in Steubenville, Ohio, to the Mountaineer Casino, just outside New Cumberland, West Virginia. He used the casino ATM to check his bank account balance: $13,400. He walked across the casino floor to his favorite slot machine in the high-limit area: Triple Stars, a three-reel game that cost $10 a spin. Maybe this time it would pay out enough to save him.

It didn’t. He spent the next four hours burning through $13,000 from the account, plugging any winnings back into the machine, until he had only $4,000 left. Around noon, he gave up.  Stevens, 52, left the casino and wrote a five-page letter to Stacy. A former chief operating officer at Louis Berkman Investment, he gave her careful financial instructions that would enable her to avoid responsibility for his losses and keep her credit intact: She was to deposit the enclosed check for $4,000; move her funds into a new checking account; decline to pay the money he owed the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas; disregard his credit-card debt (it was in his name alone); file her tax returns; and sign up for Social Security survivor benefits.

He asked that she have him cremated.He wrote that he was “crying like a baby” as he thought about how much he loved her and their three daughters. “Our family only has a chance if I’m not around to bring us down any further,” he wrote. “I’m so sorry that I’m putting you through this.”

He placed the letter and the check in an envelope drove to the Steubenville post office and mailed it. Then he headed to the Jefferson Kiwanis Youth Soccer Club. He had raised funds for these green fields, tended them with his lawn mower, and watched his daughters play on them. Stevens parked his Jeep in the gravel lot and called Ricky Gurbst, a Cleveland attorney whose firm, Squire Patton Boggs, represented Berkman, where Stevens had worked for 14 years—until six and a half months earlier, when the firm discovered that he had been stealing company funds to feed his gambling habit and fired him.

Stevens had a request: “Please ask the company to continue to pay my daughters’ college tuition.” He had received notification that the tuition benefit the company had provided would be discontinued for the fall semester. Failing his daughters had been the final blow.

Gurbst said he would pass along the request.

Then Stevens told Gurbst that he was going to kill himself.

“What? Wait.”  “That’s what I’m going to do,” Stevens said and promptly hung up.

He next called J. Timothy Bender, a Cleveland tax attorney who had been advising him on the IRS’s investigation into his embezzlement. Up until that point, he had put on a brave face for Bender, saying he would accept responsibility and serve his time. Now he told Bender what he was about to do. Alarmed, Bender tried to talk him out of it. “Look, this is hard enough,” Stevens said. “I’m going to do it.” Click.

At 4:01 p.m., Stevens texted Stacy. “I love you.”

He then texted the same message to each of his three daughters in succession. He unpacked his Browning semiautomatic 12-gauge shotgun, loaded it, and sat on one of the railroad ties that rimmed the parking lot. Then he dialed 911 and told the dispatcher his plan.

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Scott Stevens hadn’t always been a gambler. A native of Rochester, New York, he earned a master’s degree in business and finance at the University of Rochester and built a successful career. He won the trust of the steel magnate Louis Berkman and worked his way up to the position of COO in Berkman’s company. He was meticulous about finances, both professionally and personally. When he first met Stacy, in 1988, he insisted that she pay off her credit-card debt immediately. “Your credit is all you have,” he told her.

They married the following year, had three daughters, and settled into a comfortable life in Steubenville thanks to his position with Berkman’s company: a six-figure salary, three cars, two country-club memberships, vacations to Mexico. Stevens doted on his girls and threw himself into causes that benefited them. In addition to the soccer fields, he raised money to renovate the middle school, to build a new science lab, and to support the French Club’s trip to France. He spent time on weekends painting the high-school cafeteria and stripping the hallway floors.

Stevens got his first taste of casino gambling while attending a 2006 trade show in Las Vegas. On a subsequent trip, he hit a jackpot on a slot machine and was hooked. Scott and Stacy soon began making several trips a year to Vegas. She liked shopping, sitting by the pool, even occasionally playing the slots with her husband. They brought the kids in the summer and made a family vacation of it by visiting the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, and Disneyland. Back home, Stevens became a regular at the Mountaineer Casino. Over the next six years, his gambling hobby became an addiction. Though he won occasional jackpots, some of them six figures, he lost far more—as much as $4.8 million in a single year.

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Did Scott Stevens die because he was unable to rein in his own addictive need to gamble? Or was he the victim of a system carefully calibrated to prey on his weakness?

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Stevens methodically concealed his addiction from his wife. He handled all the couple’s finances. He kept separate bank accounts. He used his work address for his gambling correspondence: W-2Gs (the IRS form used to report gambling winnings), wire transfers, casino mailings. Even his best friend and brother-in-law, Carl Nelson, who occasionally gambled alongside Stevens, had no inkling of his problem. “I was shocked when I found out afterward,” he says. “There was a whole Scott I didn’t know.”

When Stevens ran out of money at the casino, he would leave, write a company check on one of the Berkman accounts for which he had check-cashing privileges, and return to the casino with more cash. He sometimes did this three or four times in a single day. His colleagues did not question his absences from the office because his job involved overseeing various companies in different locations. By the time the firm detected irregularities and he admitted the extent of his embezzlement, Stevens—the likable, responsible, trustworthy company man—had stolen nearly $4 million.

Stacy had no idea. In Vegas, Stevens had always kept plans to join her and the girls for lunch. At home, he was always on time for dinner. Saturday mornings, when he told her he was headed to the office, she didn’t question him—she knew he had a lot of responsibilities. So she was stunned when he called her with bad news on January 30, 2012.

She was on the stairs with a load of laundry when the phone rang.

“Stace, I have something to tell you.”

She heard the burden in his voice. “Who died?”

“It’s something I have to tell you on the phone because I can’t look in your eyes.”

He paused. She waited.

“I might be coming home without a job today. I’ve taken some money.”

“For what?”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“How much? Ten thousand dollars?”

“No.”

“More? One hundred thousand?”

“Stace, it’s enough.”

Stevens never did come clean with her about how much he had stolen or about how often he had been gambling. Even after he was fired, Stevens kept gambling as often as five or six times a week. He gambled on his wedding anniversary and on his daughters’ birthdays. Stacy noticed that he was irritable more frequently than usual and that he sometimes snapped at the girls, but she figured that it was the fallout of his unemployment.

When he headed to the casino, he told her he was going to see his therapist, that he was networking, that he had other appointments. When money appeared from his occasional wins, he claimed that he had been doing some online trading.

While they lived off $50,000 that Stacy had in a separate savings account, he drained their 401(k) of $150,000, emptied $50,000 out of his wife’s and daughters’ ETrade accounts, maxed out his credit card, and lost all of a $110,000 personal loan he’d taken out from PNC Bank. Stacy did not truly understand the extent of her husband’s addiction until the afternoon three police officers showed up at her front door with the news of his death. Afterward, Stacy studied gambling addiction and the ways slot machines entice customers to part with their money.

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In 2014, she filed a lawsuit against both Mountaineer Casino and International Game Technology, the manufacturer of the slot machines her husband played.

At issue was the fundamental question of who killed Scott Stevens. Did he die because he was unable to rein in his own addictive need to gamble? Or was he the victim—as the suit alleged—of a system carefully calibrated to prey upon his weakness, one that robbed him of his money, his hope, and ultimately his life?

Some Facts: Less than 40 years ago, casino gambling was illegal everywhere in the United States outside of Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. But since Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, tribal and commercial casinos have rapidly proliferated across the country, with some 1,000 now operating in 40 states. Casino patrons bet more than $37 billion annually—more than Americans spend to attend sporting events ($17.8 billion), go to the movies ($10.7 billion), and buy music ($6.8 billion) combined.

The preferred mode of gambling these days is electronic gaming machines, of which there are now almost 1 million nationwide, offering variations on slots and video poker. Their prevalence has accelerated addiction and reaped huge profits for casino operators. A significant portion of casino revenue now comes from a small percentage of customers, most of them likely addicts, playing machines that are designed explicitly to lull them into a trancelike state that the industry refers to as “continuous gaming productivity.”

(In a 2010 report, the American Gaming Association, an industry trade group, claimed that “the prevalence of pathological gambling … is no higher today than it was in 1976, when Nevada was the only state with legal slot machines. And, despite the popularity of slot machines and the decades of innovation surrounding them, when adjusted for inflation, there has not been a significant increase in the amount spent by customers on slot-machine gambling during an average casino visit.”)

Other Gambling Addicts & Lawsuits: 

“The manufacturers know these machines are addictive and do their best to make them addictive so they can make more money,” says Terry Noffsinger, the lead attorney on the Stevens suit. “This isn’t negligence. It’s intentional.”

Noffsinger, 72, has been here before. A soft-spoken personal injury attorney based in Indiana, he has filed two previous lawsuits against casinos. In 2001, he sued Aztar Indiana Gaming, of Evansville, on behalf of David Williams, then 51 years old, who had been an auditor for the State of Indiana. Williams began gambling after he received a $20 voucher in the mail from Casino Aztar. He developed a gambling addiction that cost him everything, which in his case amounted to about $175,000.

Noffsinger alleged that Aztar had violated the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by engaging in a “pattern of racketeering activity”—using the mail to defraud Williams with continued enticements to return to the casino. But the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted summary judgment in favor of Aztar, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit instructed the district court to dismiss the case, declaring, “Even if the statements in these communications could be considered ‘false’ or ‘misrepresentations,’ it is clear that they are nothing more than sales puffery on which no person of ordinary prudence and comprehension would rely.”

TO Read The Rest of The Article as there is more to this story  visit here:  The Atlantic Magazine  .  .  .  .


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SO, what are your thoughts and feelings around this? You know how I feel, so let me know what you think. I know there are those who never been “touched” by problem gambling and feel it’s the addicts “choice.”  I don’t fully by that either. Addicts are sick. I did not wake up one day and decided I wanted to implode and destroy my life. As I always say,

“Hate The Addiction Not The Addict.”


* Author and Columnist, Catherine Townsend-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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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 ”

It’s Coming -“National Week of Action to Stop Predatory Gambling” Sept. 25th -Oct 1st, 2016. Meet Ronda Hatefi and Her Brother – Bobby’s Story.

Ronda Hatefi holds a picture of her brother, Bobby, a problem gambler who committed suicide in 1995.
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“Meet my dear friend Ronda Hatefi holding a photo of her brother, Bobby Hafemann one of the first suicide’s I learned about due to his Gambling Addiction .  .  . He was ONLY 28-years old.”

 


I caught up with Ronda a week or so ago by phone, and happened to learn some new information that I had not known before about Bobby. I invited Ronda to be the main focus for this 2nd annual “National Week of Action from Predatory Gambling” this year to follow-up and to keep her brother Bobby Hafemann’s memory alive. Even though Bobby isn’t with us, his story needs to be told often to help others who are still suffering and are stuck in the insidious “cycle” of Gambling Addiction.

Personally, after talking with Ronda I came to the conclusion that The Oregon Lottery and The State of Oregon had FAILED Bobby and his family. Ronda had told me that they had gotten Bobby in a form of treatment that was supposed to be provided by state funding of profits from the Oregon Lottery. But after a year or two, the treatment program was pulled and disappeared.

They also tried having him attend Gamblers Anonymous, well, the guy running the Hotline Phone Number just relapsed and was out gambling again when he had returned Ronda’s call. They were then told to seek help maybe through therapy or a psychiatrist or therapist, they had no idea how to treat a compulsive addicted gambler.
More failures. We ow know how this story ended. His suicide should have never happened!

So I will be sharing all the hard work that my friend Ronda Hatefi and her family still share’s today to help others in the upcoming week of Action. But, here is an article and story I came across about Bobby Hafemann and his death and how the family was devastated of the failures as they all desperately tried to help Bobby. . . . .

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LOSING THE GAMBLE ~ Friday, July 27th, 1995 ~ (Author Kate Taylor – Oregonian Staff)
Full Article on:  SSRI Stories – Antidepressant Stories

Summary: “The parents of a compulsive gambler say the Oregon lottery stole their son, caused his suicide.   The machines he haunted still blink up hearts, clubs, diamonds. Their glow still lures thousands of Oregonians every day.”

But Robert Lewis Hafemann, a compulsive gambler, has played his last game of video poker. After slipping his life savings and countless loans into gambling machines, and at the end of a desperate search for help against his addiction, 28-year-old Hafemann shot himself in his Milwaukie home July 20.

When he was buried this week, he left behind a grieving family as well as questions about the state’s most popular gambling game and the declining help for people who can’t stop playing.

“My Bobby was a winner,” said his father, Harvey Hafemann, clutching his wife’s hand at his Milwaukie home.   “He could’ve won at a lot of different things. But he couldn’t win that game. The Oregon lottery stole our son from us.”   His father doesn’t know how it happened.

Before 1991, when the Legislature invited video poker into the state, his family considered Robert Hafemann’s gambling playful and benign. He thrilled at his first scratch-ticket jackpot of $600 at the age of 18. The following years he won everything from cowboy hats to couches to television sets. He lost money, too, but his $45,000-a-year job as a steel fabricator easily made up the loss. He always had extra to give.

“He had the biggest heart you’d ever meet,” said his sister, Ronda Hatefi.  “He made more money than any of us, so he wanted to share.”   Then came video poker and the 1,500 taverns, restaurants and bowling alleys that put in 7,200 machines.

The machines, which bring in $1 million a day, drew Robert Hafemann like a siren song. He became one of the estimated 61,000 pathological or problem gamblers in Oregon.  He stopped coming home after work. Instead, he sought out machines.

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“He talked about the (video machines) all the time,” his father said.  “He said he was going to get out of this. He would win a million dollars, and we’d all be living on easy street.”   In his last few months, Hafemann spent every hour of spare time and every cent of his paycheck gambling. On the rare occasions his family saw him, he’d borrow money, say he was going to the store for a soda and return the next morning. He stopped picking up his mail and checking his answering machine because he couldn’t face creditors.

Hafemann’s family saw less and less of the son and brother they remembered.  “He told me he felt like a ghost, standing alone,” said his mother, Diana Hafemann.  “That’s what he looked like. We told him we’re here for you, but he said he just couldn’t stop.”

At work, he was efficient and industrious as always and continued to ask for extra shifts. But he stopped telling jokes and stopped asking his co-workers if they had heard any new ones. Instead, he asked to borrow money.

“I’d lend him small amounts and he always paid me back,” said Alan Christen, a fellow machine operator.  “You could tell his esteem of himself had gone way down.”  Then in May, he finally told his mother he was considering suicide and needed help.   “It was the best Mother’s Day present,” said Diana Hafemann.  “I told him he was a winner because it takes a big man to admit he’s got a problem.”

Searching for help:

Hafemann’s despair is tragically common, said Bob Denton, a treatment counselor at Portland’s Diversion Associates, a group that treats addicts. Almost half of the people he treats seem to be contemplating suicide, and about 90 percent say their worst problem is video poker.

When Robert Hafemann and his mother went to Kaiser’s East Interstate Medical Office for help, Diana Hafemann said a doctor prescribed her son Prozac and soon referred him to a general practitioner. Kaiser declined to comment.

When compulsive gamblers seek help, they often meet with the wrong treatment, said Steven Henry, a psychologist with the Clackamas County Mental Health Department’s gambling treatment program. “Pathological gambling doesn’t present itself with alcohol on the breath, needle marks on the arm, or roaches in the ashtray,” Henry said.  “It presents itself with empty bank accounts and the lifeblood drained out of families.”

Diana Hafemann said there were very few resources that could help her son. Many health care providers agree.  Oregon lawmakers this year approved $4 million for gambling addiction treatment over the next two years, $800,000 less than the previous two years.   Oregon lottery spokesman David Hooper said many of the county-run programs failed to spend all of the larger amounts allocated. He defended the growth of video poker, saying most of the players are healthy.

“It’s a very unfortunate, tragic circumstance,” Hooper said of Hafemann’s death.   “But it’s like any other product, there’s going to be individuals who are unable to handle it. You cannot run a society based on the exceptions.”  But those who work with gambling addicts say video poker, which is permitted only in six states, is the most virulent, addictive form of gambling.  “The hypnotic effect of screen and the speed of play engages peoples’ interest and allows them to escape from their problems in a way that no other form of gambling does,” he said. “The cost is also easy for people to rationalize — just $5 or $20 for a game, but then suddenly they’ve gone through $100 and the remorse can be overwhelming.”

That remorse was overwhelming for Robert Hafemann early July 20 as he sat drinking beer, going through his phone book and thinking about what he’d lost. He called one friend five times, despairing over his finances. She tried to calm him and thought she talked him out of suicide. He called the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department for a gambling hotline number. But Hafemann inverted two of the numbers as he wrote it on his notepad and thought the number had been disconnected. In his last words to his mother and father, he told them he loved them but said he had to take care of something he couldn’t stop any other way. He directed them to sell his belongings and pay off his creditors.

When his father and two nephews visited him Saturday, they discovered him slumped over a living room table with a six-pack of beer at his feet.

“I hate to say this, but I feel that this suicide was another job that he felt had to be done,” his father said. “He did every job the best he could, that’s the way Bob was.”

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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.


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The Truth About Lottery Video Poker Machines. Guest Article. “Man Vs Machine”- National Week of Action From Predatory Gambling.

Hello Recovery Friends and Welcome All Visitors,

As this is “National Addiction and Recovery Month and National Week of Action Against Predatory Gambling” I want to share a Guest Article I read a while back that sheds light on a guy who caught “The Oregon Video Poker” machines trying to make players lose instead of winning a hand of poker from an electronic game. It also sheds light on just how BAD the “odds” are of a player winning. So this man took on the video poker machines! (Article Courtesy of  Willamette Week News Website .

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“MAN Vs. MACHINE – A video poker machine dealt Justin Curzi a strange hand. Now he’s calling the Oregon Lottery’s bluff.” 

Updated March 4, 2015
Published March 4, 2015

Curzi, 35, had moved to Oregon in 2012 from San Francisco after selling a software company he’d helped found a decade earlier. He was fascinated with the games—the ubiquitous, flashing terminals found in bars, delis, and even pancake houses—and he played occasionally when out drinking with friends.

On this day—Jan. 10, 2014, a Friday—Curzi paused playing video poker while a pal went to get a beer. He used the break to study his hand—a 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of different suits. He was close to getting a straight, which would pay $5 on a $1 bet.

The game Curzi was playing, draw poker, allowed him to discard cards and get new ones from the dealer. He knew his best chance was to discard the 2 and hope the machine dealt him a 3 or an 8 to complete a straight.

But the machine suggested he do something Curzi thought strange: It recommended he discard the 7. He would get his straight only if he drew a 3. That would cut Curzi’s chances of winning by half—and he thought it was terrible advice.

“Hey, is this right?” Curzi asked his friend when he returned.

Curzi took out his iPhone and snapped photos of the screen and the machine’s serial number.

It was the first step to uncovering what he says is a $134 million scam by the Oregon Lottery.

 

Bad Advice

“Here’s how the video poker hand Justin Curzi got on Jan. 10, 2014, led him to investigate the Oregon Lottery machines.”

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Oregon voters approved the state lottery in 1984, and today state-run gambling contributes about $550 million a year to Oregon’s budget, behind only personal income taxes.

The lottery encourages dreams of riches. But the games are engineered to take your money. “Everyone should understand that the odds in all our games favor the lottery,” says Jack Roberts, Oregon Lottery director. That’s why news reports two months ago that a Portland man was suing the lottery to recoup video poker players’ losses struck some as ludicrous.

Who would sue over losing money while gambling?

But it’s not so simple. Curzi—who friends say is intelligent, analytical and obsessively curious—launched a personal investigation of Oregon video poker machines that led him to conclude the machines were cheating players out of millions of dollars every month. That’s why he filed a class-action lawsuit against the Oregon Lottery in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleging fraud. Lottery officials deny Curzi’s allegations.

“Good for him,” says Les Bernal, national director of the advocacy group Stop Predatory Gambling, based in Washington, D.C. “What the Oregon Lottery does with these games is create the illusion that you have some control, where in reality you actually have far less.”

Curzi is aware some people might assume he’s suing to make money. He insists he’s not. “The real reason I’m doing this,” he says, “is because it’s outright wrong.”

“Justin is not afraid to jump at things, he’s not afraid to question things,” says Rob Steele, a friend of Curzi’s dating back to high school in New Jersey. “That is just catnip for Justin.”

Six days after his curious experience with the Jacks or Better game at Quimby’s, Curzi sent a polite and inquisitive email to the Oregon Lottery.

“Hello, my name is Justin,” he wrote on Jan. 16, 2014. “I’ve attached a photo of a hand that was given to me in one of your Oregon Lottery machines.” Curzi explained how he believed the video poker machine should have given him the best advice. “This does not seem to be the case,” he wrote.

Draw poker is a game of luck, strategy and second chances. The dealer gives players five cards. Players then get a chance to discard cards in the hopes of being dealt better ones.

When you’re playing poker around a table in real life, you’re betting against other players in hopes of having the best hand.

But in video poker, you’re not betting against anyone. Each hand costs you 25 cents (or more, if you increase your wager), and you win money based on a scale of how strong your hand is. A pair of jacks might win you your 25 cents back. A royal flush—the highest and rarest combination—would win you up to $600.

Unlike slot machines, video poker gives the player a sense that strategy matters. In reality, if you play long enough, the machines are geared to eventually take your money, no matter how many wins you record. Still, the sense that a player can outsmart the game is part of its allure.

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What caught Curzi’s attention was a feature on the draw poker games called “auto-hold.” The feature puts the word “hold” over cards it suggests players should keep. Players can reject the suggestions at any time.

But auto-hold has a second, less obvious function. It allows players to play faster because they don’t have to stop to think about what cards to hold before hitting the button to draw again. That’s important because faster play translates to more money for the Oregon Lottery.

Before he got a response from the lottery, Curzi returned to Quimby’s, wondering whether the game’s bad advice had only been a fluke. He shoved a $20 bill into a machine to play the same Jacks or Better game. Within 10 minutes, the game was again advising him to hold cards that cut his chances of winning in half. Curzi says he just wanted a simple explanation. “I certainly didn’t think,” he says, “I would discover what I know now.”

Who Plays Oregon Lottery Games?

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Curzi grew up as a sports-focused kid in small-town New Jersey, the son of a prominent lawyer and a stay-at-home mom. Curzi—who played football despite his small size—also wrestled, played baseball and graduated near the top of his high-school class. He played wide receiver at Amherst College, where he majored in economics and history. That led him to New York City after graduation.

“I thought the only two jobs on earth were investment banking and consulting,” he says now.

He landed his first job selling investments. Working on commission, he’d target an office building, climb to the top floor, then work his way down, knocking on doors. “I was 21, looking like I was 16, asking people to give me their money,” Curzi says. He soon climbed the monthly leader board. His boss told him he was one of the youngest salespeople to reach the top.

He wasn’t destined for a traditional job. A sticker on Curzi’s apartment door showed a group of people heading one direction, and one person walking the other way. “Routine,” it read. “The enemy!”

In 2003, he moved to Brazil and quickly immersed himself in the culture, teaching himself Portuguese within months. “You feel like the guy has been there two or three years,” says Ken Barrington, a college friend who visited him.

In Brazil, Curzi met an American computer programmer working on a way to help accountants share QuickBook files. The two teamed up and sold the program, cold-calling potential clients from Rio de Janeiro on an Internet phone line. “We must have sounded like we were speaking through tin cans,” Curzi says.

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They called the business Emocgila—mochila means “backpack” in Spanish and Portuguese—and it blossomed to 30 employees. In 2011, Curzi and his partner sold the company to Thomson Reuters in a private deal; Curzi declines to say for how much. But friends describe him as wealthy. “I’m not Elon Musk,” Curzi says of the co-founder of Tesla and PayPal.

Curzi moved to Portland in 2012 with his then-girlfriend (and now wife), who grew up in Tigard, and now lives in a $565,000 Victorian in Northwest Portland. He consults for private clients, provides microloans to entrepreneurs through the website Kiva and drives a 1996 Isuzu Rodeo “whose crowning feature is where a dog chewed the back seats.”

Friends say they are not surprised Curzi—who’s just as likely to want to discuss North Dakota’s fracking economy as the business model for Purringtons Cat Lounge—zeroed in on something as small and seemingly innocuous as a quirk in a video poker game.

“So many times in life, people just overlook the obvious,” Barrington says. “Justin has a knack for pointing those things out.”

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Marlene Meissner, a spokeswoman for the lottery, drafted a response. Auto-hold, she wrote, “is based on optimizing the player’s opportunity to win the best (highest prize) rather than simply increasing the odds of winning any prize.”

But, as Curzi later discovered, lottery officials guided Meissner to a different answer, so she revised her email before sending it. “In your case, the terminal did advise a strategy — granted not the only strategy — for you to have an opportunity to win with the cards you were dealt,” she said in her email to Curzi on Feb. 3.

In other words, the lottery was backing away from telling Curzi auto-hold offered the best option.

Curzi wasn’t satisfied. “I know your interpretation of the law is that you only have to suggest ‘a’ winning combination, but why not the best one?” he wrote in an email the next day.

The lottery’s response? “Crickets,” Curzi says.

Curzi turned to Jay Zollinger, a lawyer who had helped negotiate the sale of Curzi’s business. Zollinger suggested a public records request might turn up some answers.

On Feb. 20, 2014, Curzi and Zollinger formally asked the lottery for documents concerning the Jacks or Better game Curzi played at Quimby’s, plus any correspondence, studies and reports about auto-hold. The lottery responded on April 8, saying it would take 30 hours of staff time just to review the records Curzi requested. The lottery wanted a $2,350 deposit to cover its costs.

That fee would have stopped most people. But Curzi’s lawyer paid it. The total bill for records eventually came to $3,581.49.  Six months after his request, in August 2014, Curzi received the first of five batches of records.

By September, Curzi had hundreds of pages of emails, memos, and spreadsheets. He made a copy of the originals, arranging one set chronologically and the second by topic. He took notes on his laptop in a file that grew to 4,800 words.

Curzi came across a Feb. 2, 2009, email with a spreadsheet attached—”Video Lottery Game Payout Percentage Report.” The document had come from Gaming Laboratories International, an independent auditor based in New Jersey that works with many state lotteries to test machines.

The spreadsheet listed all the types of Oregon video poker machines by the manufacturer, the millions of games played in one-quarter of 2008 and how much money players spent.

In one column, the document showed what various video poker machines, based on calculations of probabilities, were expected to pay out to players over time.

In another column, the document showed what the machines were actually paying out. Curzi thought the payouts should have been very close to what the game’s programmers predicted.

Some weren’t. Curzi discovered the game he had been playing at Quimby’s, the Jacks or Better “Bluebird” terminal produced by WMS Gaming, was off by quite a bit.

The spreadsheet showed Jacks or Better on average should be paying out 90 cents for every $1 players put into the machine. It actually paid out about 87 cents.

That 3-cent difference may seem small, but when multiplied by the huge numbers of video poker games played, it translated to about $1.3 million per year that Jacks or Better wasn’t returning to players.

“This,” Curzi recalls thinking to himself, “is totally corrupt.”

He kept digging and made a second big discovery: Lottery officials knew about the discrepancy, and the auto-hold function on some machines was to blame.

“Due to the vendors’ auto-hold strategies, a few other poker games have actual payout percentages that are below theoretical,” Carole Hardy, the lottery’s then-assistant director for marketing, wrote on April 1, 2009. Curzi discovered a survey of video poker players the lottery commissioned from Mosak, a marketing research firm.

“Across all player types, the overwhelming majority of players said they prefer the auto-hold feature in video poker games as it makes it more convenient and easier to play,” a 2010 Mosak report said. “Players said this feature allows them to hold the correct cards, thus increasing their chances of winning.”

Curzi had only hoped to understand how auto-hold worked. He had instead discovered the lottery knew auto-hold sucked millions away from players—and players actually thought auto-hold helped them.

The lottery’s rules require “a close approximation of the odds of winning some prize for each game” and say those odds “must be displayed on a Video Lottery game terminal screen.”  Documents Curzi received show lottery officials debated whether or not they should tell players the actual odds if they relied on auto-hold.

In a memo labeled “confidential” and dated Sept. 15, 2009, lottery officials reported they had been studying their system to find video poker games that might be making payouts that were too high. Instead, they found machines whose payouts were too low.

“This triggered additional investigation regarding the integrity of the games,” the memo said. “Further, there was a question whether additional information should be provided to players to ensure they have accurate information regarding how video lottery games pay.”

The Sept. 15 memo also contained this nugget about WMS Gaming, maker of the game Curzi played at Quimby’s: “WMS has confirmed that the auto-hold strategy for all WMS poker games is set to pay out lower than the other products as a result of the auto-hold strategies WMS has implemented.”

Lottery officials, according to a separate 2009 memo, decided to put accurate auto-hold payouts on the Web. But Curzi went looking online, even using the Internet Archive search engine, to see if the lottery had ever made public the lower odds. He found no evidence it had. Over the next month, Curzi built a spreadsheet to estimate how much money the video poker machines, based on the odds, should have paid out, compared to what they actually did.

What he found startled him. Payouts to video lottery players were as much as 5 percent lower when they used auto-hold than when they didn’t. That translated to $134 million.

To Curzi, it was an outrageous discrepancy—especially given that players believed auto-hold helped them, and the lottery knew otherwise. Buried on the lottery’s website is one disclaimer: “Auto-hold strategies vary by game, based on the particular features of a game and do not necessarily result in theoretical payouts.”

Curzi says that’s not enough. The lottery is supposed to be based on chance. “You can’t manipulate the game,” he says.

In October 2014, he sent the Oregon Lottery a letter detailing his findings and notifying officials he intended to sue unless the lottery reimbursed players within 30 days. On Dec. 4, a claims management consultant in the state’s Department of Administrative Services wrote back to say the lottery was still investigating Curzi’s claims.

On Dec. 31, Curzi took the Oregon Lottery to court.

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Jack Roberts, the lottery director, took over the agency in December 2013, following years of controversy and accusations the agency wasn’t doing enough to address problem gambling. He had earlier served as state labor commissioner and ran in the Republican primary for governor in 2002.

Roberts says the lottery is fairly representing players’ chances. “Clearly the odds favor us,” he says. “That’s what gambling establishments are about, but we believe we’ve been honest in representing what they are.”

Roberts wasn’t around when the lottery introduced video poker and the auto-hold feature in 1992. “Our assumption has always been that on balance people who play auto-hold do better than people who don’t,” he says. “We don’t tell people that.”

He rejects Curzi’s allegation the lottery is intentionally misleading players. “I don’t think we’ve ever represented that the auto-hold gives you the optimal result,” he says. “The idea was that it gives you a good result.”

But records Curzi turned up show the opposite. “The machine recommends the best possible cards to hold in order for the player to win and if the player changes the cards to be held, the possibility of winning will decrease,” the Sept. 15, 2009, memo marked “confidential” reads.

Today, the lottery is in the process of replacing all 12,000 video lottery terminals in the state; it’s a routine technology update. But one consequence of the upgrade is that Oregon is completely phasing out the WMS Gaming “Bluebird” terminal on which Curzi played Jacks or Better. Roberts says Jacks or Better is being phased out because it’s unpopular with players. Roberts says the lottery is interested in finding out if more players are concerned about auto-hold.

“It gets complicated in the middle of litigation,” he says. “Any actions that we take might be interpreted as an admission that we don’t mean to say.”

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Experts on lotteries and the law say Curzi’s odds of winning in court seem low. Rob Carey, an Arizona class-action lawyer, took on several state lotteries over the deceptive practice of selling scratch-off tickets after the top prizes had already been awarded. Carey never succeeded in getting a class established for his lawsuits, but he did win payments for some plaintiffs and forced changes in state lottery practices.

He says Curzi’s case hinges on whether the Oregon Lottery’s public disclosures were adequate. “It really depends on what they’re telling the players,” Carey says.

The lottery could be safe even if the disclosures are vague. “You have to show the intent to defraud,” says I. Nelson Rose, a law professor at Whittier Law School in Southern California. “I don’t think they’ll be able to do that.”

Rose says it’s the machines’ manufacturers that should be worried.  “If the plaintiff were able to prove this was intentional,” he says, “that supplier could end up paying.”

Nevada-based Scientific Games, owner of WMS Gaming, the maker of the Jacks or Better game Curzi played, declined to answer WW‘s questions. “It is company policy not to comment on ongoing litigation,” Scientific Games spokeswoman Mollie Cole said in an email.

Curzi is undaunted. He wants players to recoup their money. He wants the lottery’s auto-hold feature to give good advice, and he wants the agency to give players honest information.

“It goes all the way back to that first photo,” he says of the photo he took of the video poker machine’s bum recommendation at Quimby’s last year. “I look at it and say, ‘That’s not right.”  .   .   .   .   .

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My own thoughts about The Oregon Lottery and the Retail places available everywhere? I had gotten hooked and was just one of several places around my town I gambled at. So when there IS “Excess to Access” you CAN become addicted.” Learn from my dear friend Ronda Hatefi and her brother’s suicide because of his Gambling Addiction & Could Not Stop!   “LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!”

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IF YOU NEED HELP From Gambling? Please Call TODAY .  .  .  .

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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.
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.

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Author & In Recovery Magzine Columnist & Recovering Addicted Gambler 9-years 9months,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon


 

I Am Honored To Welcome Author, Tony Kelly As Guest Speaker To Share His Story.

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This week I welcome UK Recovery Author, Tony Kelly who is also Founder/Director of Red Card Gambling Support Project, LTD  [Non-profit] in the UK, who is our Guest Gambling Addiction Speaker.

Tony and I met by way of LinkedIn and it seems we have become fast friends and seems like we have known each other for many years. So I am honored to share his story and look forward to a long-lasting friendship!

We all know gambling addiction does not discriminate on who it chooses to claim as its next victim. As Tony is an Ex-Pro Soccer star that had a very bright career and future. That was until gambling addiction sidelined him from the soccer field.I am half through reading his book and I can say it an IS AN Amazing Story …

This is Tony’s Story  .  .  .

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(A young man with a bright future)

 

Article Share By Tony Kelly on The Fix …

I am an ex-gambling addict and professional footballer who made it out of my addictions.
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The year 1984 is when it all started for me, the year that I placed my first ever coupon football bet. Looking back I should have taken heed of that old cliché, “Your first bet is your worst bet.”

Not for one moment, as with all gambling addicts, did I ever think that bet would lead into a long and torturous journey of gambling addiction. Why would I? After all, it was all meant to be a bit of fun and banter with my football (soccer) pals. Very quickly it didn’t seem like such fun after I found myself dipping into my wages from work.

“This is what addiction feels like. You slowly start to lose control of your actions and emotions thereby deflecting your anger onto others. ”
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“We are all susceptible to gambling addiction, we just don’t realize it. It can happen to anybody.”   ~Tony Kelly ~ Red Card Project

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Professionally and psychologically, we have no concept of the makeup of our genes, character, or vulnerability to addiction. Therefore we are all taking a risk once we start to indulge in this evil disease as there are proven medical/physiological reasons for why some of us become addicted while some of us do not. Professional practitioners are able to find the root of an individual’s reason for becoming an addict, in most cases, which is why it is so important that we seek professional advice or help when we feel we have a problem.

Moving on from the therapy side of gambling addiction and fast forward two years. As with all gamblers, “chasing” is a term we can all relate to, so by now I was a regular gambler and more importantly a regular loser! I was at my local Mecca, bookmakers in Dulwich South East London, and was firmly on the slippery road to ruin. You see, chasing your losses is a very dangerous formula—it only succeeds in pushing you deeper and deeper into debt, as I found out, with devastating consequences.

After moving to North London from Dulwich, I was soon increasing my outlays, (Bets) which again is a sign of desperation, with my wages increased through my new job at Eastern Electricity and my football wages with St Albans City FC. It was easy to take risks and continue my search for the big win, the win which I hoped would solve all my problems.

It was St Alban’s City which would be the club that would propel me into the big time after a £40,000 transfer to Stoke City, and provide me with more than enough ammunition to continue my, by now, severe gambling addiction.

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I can’t stress enough that the emotions you go through as an addict; the feeling of seeing your horse pipped on the line by a 50/1 outsider. It’s painful and at times so hard to take, which is where the anger and frustration come’s into play and you take it out on loved ones, which only adds to your problems. These feelings I keep firmly in my memory bank as a reminder that I will not be going down this road again in the future. I remember losing a bet by Teletext!

Teletext I hear you say, well teletex still exists today but as there were no mobiles or much-televised racing in the late 80s, it was a way of finding out various sports results. As I scrolled down the screen with my remote, squinting my eyes in the hope that the name of my horse would show up in bright capital yellow letters, BANG! Like a hammer blow, my horse shows up in second place, and there goes my treble, together with yet another remote control thrown across the room!

With that, you sink into a mini-depressive state, lost in your own little world wondering where the next win is going to come from. This is what addiction feels like. You slowly start to lose control of your actions and emotions thereby deflecting your anger onto others.

So having got my dream life into the world of professional football in January 1990, I had visions of finally getting out of debt as I knew the money I would be earning would be enough to eventually solve my financial worries. How wrong I was! Sadly my journey after signing for Stoke City would be one that would take me on a huge roller coaster that would take me years to recover from.

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Now, a fully-fledged professional footballer living the high life with all the trimmings, money, fame, girls, I was living the dream with money burning a hole in my pockets! So where did it go wrong? Well, with the bonus of excessive funds at my disposal, and with my obsession of chasing the big win, it became apparent that all I was interested in was continued gambling to get debt-free as quickly as possible. Unfortunately with bigger layouts came bigger losses,

Yes, that vicious circle we all find ourselves in from time to time. Although I cleared some debt it was not enough. You think the big one will come soon and you start playing the percentage game, surely this week or next week. At this point, tt is so important for gambler’s to acknowledge they have a problem and to accept it and just get help. Denial is a major factor in any addict’s life, especially a gambling addict. It takes mental strength and courage to accept you are an addict, so I urge all gambler’s to seek help before it is too late and you end up losing everything.

In today’s society, gambling is no longer just a social event, or something you may experiment with for fun or financial gain, it has now become a serious mental health issue with thousands of people in the UK and around the world. Known to people in the medical profession as the hidden addiction, gambling addiction in most cases has no real visual signs so we need to be educated on how to spot individuals who are suffering and really raise the awareness. This illness is on par with alcohol/drug addiction and should be treated as such.

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There is no doubt my addiction caused me serious health issues such as headaches, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and depression. Therefore, gambling addiction needs to be addressed within the National Health Service, and other organizations, so that we are all aware of the consequences surrounding it.So here I was continuing to chase my losses hoping for the big one. That obviously never came. I was spiraling into debt deeper and deeper and all logical and rational thinking had long left me!

After only five years as a professional, I lost thousands, property, wages, cars, and incidentals. My regret is not asking for help at the height of my addiction in the mid-90s. All gambler’s have that mental block that enables us to stay in complete denial, the shame and embarrassment is too much to take and so we turn away the very people who care, our families and friends. By the time I hung up my boots in 2000 I had lost everything except for a flat I bought in Enfield. I was constantly chased by numerous creditors and bailiffs alike, making my life a misery.
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In 2009, I took on a major decision in my life, which I feel was probably the best decision I have ever made. Sometimes in life. you have to take a step backward to go forward and in my situation, it seemed like a good option so I decided to declare myself bankrupt and start again. My debt was nowhere near manageable and stressful. Not only was it a huge relief and burden off my shoulders but it gave me hope. Coupled with my counseling sessions I could finally see a way forward. And that’s all I wanted. I wanted a life without gambling.

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I had the high life and the money so it was now all about moving on, learning from my mistakes and trying to do something positive with my experiences, and in life. My bankruptcy file was in the thousands, and I keep this file to this day as a reminder of the poor choices I made with my addiction. I intend to continue my work in helping thousands of people who are out there suffering from gambling addiction and who need help and support. So no more sleepless nights or wondering when the next bailiff may come knocking, but more importantly I can now look forward to a stress-free life and enjoy putting something back.

My journey has been a long and painful one filled with ups and downs along the way, but it’s a journey that also shows that out of adversity can come triumph. The lies, the deceit the heartaches I caused loved ones is now a thing of the past and I stress that it’s a selfish act to inflict your pain on others and disrupt their lives, reinforcing the need to ask for help as soon as you feel you may have a gambling problem—it could save your life.

I sincerely hope my story serves as an inspiration and has a positive effect on those who read it, and that it educates individuals as well as organizations throughout the UK In terms of tackling gambling addiction in a major way.

 

I am one of the lucky ones. I came out the other side. Many don’t!

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You can purchase Tony’s book titled; Red Card: The Soccer Star Who Lost It All To Gambling  on Red Card on Amazon UK  and  Amazon.com US both are in paperback and e-book.


Visit Tony on his Website to learn through his “Red Card Project” he is helping many recover from gambling addiction: Red Card Project Gambling Addiction Support …

Connect with Tony Kelly on Social Media on:
Red Card on Facebook
Follow Tony on Twitter

More About The Author:

Tony Kelly and his identical twin brother Mel were born in Coventry on Valentine’s Day 1966. At junior school. he played in his school’s football team but his deep love affair with football (soccer) really took hold when he watched (on TV) Brazil playing in the 1974 World Cup.

As a teenager, Tony was no stranger to trouble. Frequenting the tough clubs of Coventry, indulging in petty theft and driving cars underage, he was no saint. He hoped that a career in football could save him from the prison-life that many of his friends were facing. His undoubted ability on the field, led to him joining Bristol City’s youth team and he made his debut as a pro footballer in 1982 at the tender age of 16. From there he went on to play for St Albans (as a semi-pro); Stoke City, Bury, Leyton Orient and Harlow Town. He hung up his football boots for the last time in 1999, aged 35 …

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Product Details
(Click to book to Amazon)

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RED CARD: THE SOCCER STAR WHO LOST IT ALL TO GAMBLING:

“The issues I had to deal with – especially gambling and racism – feature prominently in this story, as they are issues which are still prevalent today … Temptation and a big ego were demons I failed to conquer, so I hope my story educates youngsters in a positive way and ultimately ensures that they do not follow my path of self-destruction”  ~Tony Kelly.

Courtesy Article Share To The Fix

 



This Weekend Is “National Day of Action Against Predatory Gambling!”

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends, Supporters and New Visitor’s,

“THIS is a SPECIAL weekend for me to take action and share my gambling addiction and recovery with as many as I can reach along with the fantastic friends over at Stop Predatory Gambling. Les, Melynda, and Ronda Hatefi have worked hard to “Honor The Memory of Ronda’s brother, Bobby Hafemann who took his own life by suicide from addicted gambling, and to make this weekend happen!  Bobby had become addicted to Oregon State Lottery sponsored Video Poker Machines when they were introduced everywhere throughout the State of Oregon.
And so was I.


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I lived in Southern Oregon for over 26 years before moving to Arizona. It is the Government & State’s way of Legalizing Gambling for profit.”
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~ “Bobby Hafemann took his life because he became addicted to electronic gambling machines. Who was the primary sponsor and beneficiary of the machines that led to his death? His own state government.”

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Oregon's Problem Gamblers Awareness Day: 'Gambling took that from us'
(courtesy of the Oregonian News)

Here is Bobby Hafemann’s story. I will be sharing my own experiences with these state-run video poker machines this weekend. So I hope you will come and visit several time to “Honor Bobby’s Memory” and support my 8 1/2 years in recovery from addicted compulsive gambling.

Bobby’s Story:

Oregon’s Problem Gamblers Awareness Day: ‘Gambling took that from us’

What Does Gambling Addiction Look Like? It Looks Like This – Can We Help & Support Him?

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends,

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Addiction to gambling

Do you know what gambling addiction looks like? Do you know how it impacts your community? Did you know that 1% of our population has a gambling problem? Parents, did you know that problem and addicted gambling has now reached you high school and college bound young adults? Do you know what the symptoms are of a problem gambler? Here is an anonymous young man who recently reached out to me because gambling addiction is devastating his life.
And NO, addicted gambling is not by a persons choice to destroy their life.
It is a REAL DISEASE . . .

Anonymous Writes:

I am 32 to years old.  I am from — and that is also where I live now.
I was always popular, kind of a ladies man, I was athletic, and I was the first guy to leave the state of all my friends to be on my own right after college. However, I have since college struggled with depression. Since gambling addiction took over I:

– I have NEVER enjoyed any of the career opportunities that I have had.
– I have always been a poker player and now more of a complete degenerate gambler.
– I have been on several medications and none seem to fix this issue of depression.
– I have always been searching for the career that would make me happy and at peace.
– I have always been a drinker. I like to drink but I do not go over board I drink wine and about a bottle over the course of the day/night. This has been targeted as a problem to some therapists and others don’t seem to think it is.
When I have quite drinking for a few weeks I do not notice any difference.
I am still depressed and miserable. The longest I have quite for is about 20 days. on 2 or 3 separate occasions.

– I have never really felt that suicide is the answer but I can’t say I would ever do it. I actually highly doubt I would ever do such a thing. I do google it and think about it though when I am super depressed after a big loss.
– I am not normal with relationships. I feel that I grow very distant when things are starting to get serious.
I have a tendency to be turned off easily and get sick of women. Right now I have not had any relationships with a woman for months and months due to gambling and depression (staying inside).

I have been living with my parents for going on a year now in the basement. This house is dysfunctional with an alcoholic father and a mother who is sad she has to witness this. I also have a sister here. I have lost most of my friends for one reason or another. Either because I decided to never call them, or hang out due to feelings of shame for living here. And I do not like facing the public in my current state of living. I feel embarrassed and ashamed!

I lost my last job ( making about –k per year) in just 3 months. It was a horrible experience. The gambling has been out of control for a while but MUCH worse lately. I just have ripped through money like its nothing, pumping them into STUPID SLOT machines which is something I WOULD NEVER DO.  AND that also sickens me!!!!

I just know that the depression and gambling has reached new damaging heights. I cannot cope like this. I feel terrible. However, as soon as night-time comes along and I’m depressed and miserable, maybe buzzed off wine I talk myself into going back out to gamble again!! I am not sure if you heard stories like mine. I am not sure if you have heard people in as deep as me, with no job, no career, and no discovered passions dig out of this mess.
I am hoping you can tell me if you have seen it. However, I have tried so many therapists, nothing is working. It is the most frustrating thing in the world and I want out.

I guess what I want to know is. These are the thoughts I have had for years. I know there are generic answers like, ( stop drinking, stop gambling, seek help, find your passion, try a medication, think about what you liked to do as a kid)
HONESTLY NONE OF THESE WORK FOR ME!!! I Need Your Help!

I guess what I am looking for is :
– Have you seen stories similar to mine?
– What can I do about this mess?
– Why do I keep going back when I know its killing me?  – Can I one day have a happy life?  – It seems like I will never be gamble free… and its scary!

Thanks for listening to me go on and on…. you don’t even know me, but maybe you can save me? I would be forever indebted, and thankful!!!  If you have any questions that I didn’t cover please ask me.
Anonymous. . .

upset player suffering from gambling addiction

SO, . . . . My question to all of my blog friends and recovery friends who come to visit, WHAT would you say to this young man? Of course you know I sent him some information and support websites. But can you help me by sharing your thoughts as if you were talking to him in my comment section. I will make sure I forward ALL advice to him by email. I need to dig deep and ask for a little help from my friends here.

Thank You and God Bless,

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Recovery Advocate

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A Very Special Day Is Coming This September ~ The First Of It’s Kind

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends,

 

This September is going to be very special! The public will get a glimpse of how gambling addiction has an impact in our communities.
There will be a two-day event, in honor of a very special man I could relate to but was taken from us to soon thanks to “The State Oregon Lottery, Legal State Video Poker and Slots, along with gambling addiction.”

His name is Bobby Hafemann, and like me, he lived in Oregon where gambling is legal through the Oregon State Lottery commission. Here is some of his devastating story Courtesy of my amazing friends at:
Stop Predatory Gambling  ~ Visit Stop Predatory Gambling.Org Today

 

Bobby’s Story:
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Bobby Hafemann took his life because he became addicted to electronic gambling machines. Who was the primary sponsor and beneficiary of the machines that led to his death? His own state government.

Bobby’s sister, Ronda Hatefi, has organized an annual day in her state for the last twenty years to remember her brother and all of those citizens who have been damaged by government-sponsored gambling.

EUGENE, Ore. — “It’s been nearly 20 years since RondaHatefi lost her older brother to his gambling addiction.”

“(He) just needed everything to stop,” Hatefi said. “We talked about that just shortly before he died, he said ‘I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I’m not functioning, I don’t know how to make it stop’.”

She said her brother, Bobby Hatefi, struggled with a gambling addiction for about 4 years before he took his own life at age 28.

He would go to the bowling alley to play video poker after work. He told his sister it quickly became an obsession.

Ronda remembered her brother telling her, “I don’t do it because it’s fun, I do it because I have to, the paper I put into the machine isn’t money to me, it’s just paper to keep the game going and I don’t know how to get rid of it.”

YouTube Medford, OR News Report About OR Lottery & Addiction To Gambling

After losing her brother July 20, 1995, Hatefi decided to use her brother’s story to educate people about gambling addiction.

“That’s who Bobby was, he was an involved person in our family that we all adored and gambling took that from us,” she said.

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.

The state has honored the day for the last 19 years, and Hatefi said she’s found a way to celebrate her brother’s life.

“Because I think honestly (if) Bobby were standing here beside me today, I think he would stand up for this fight,” Ronda said.

Hatefi passes out leaflets to every place in the state that has video lottery machines, hoping they’ll put it on their machines. She said she wants people to know that there is help, and there is hope.

If you want to talk about a possible gambling problem or know someone who may need treatment, call 1-877-MY-LIMIT (695-4648). (This is for Oregon Residents Only)
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You see, Bobby’s story is very much like my own. I lived in Grants Pass, OR from 1987 until Sept 6th 2013, when I moved to Arizona for my husbands work. And I tried and had 2 failed suicide attempts myself. So I know the pain Bobby was feeling. I know those thoughts of thinking it would be better I were dead as to not feel the shame, guilt and feelings of despair because we couldn’t stop gambling. It all becomes to much to bare. Having to admit your weak and have no control is a hopeless feeling.

That is why I advocate against expansion of Indian Casinos and State Lottery services loudly! In Oregon, the lottery commission not only added Keno to their offerings, but then added video poker machines as well. And in the past few years they added video slots to all the video poker machines as well. And they are EVERYWHERE throughout the State. In bars, taverns, restaurants, they even have lottery retail shops popping up all over the place.
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As long as food and beverage is served? they can have up to 6 lottery machines in each establishment. Guess who they are making their PROFITS off of? Not the occasional person, no, it’s the problem and addicted gamblers they are making profits from. So it’s time to let the public know and see the “UGLY DOWN SIDE” of this ever-expanding problem of gambling. And that’s what will be happening this Sept 2015!!

“I know, as do so many gamblers, what it feels like to be so desperate and full of pain that I wanted to take my own life. . .
– See more at: http://stoppredatorygambling.org/voices/

First National Day of Action Against Predatory Gambling, Sept. 26 & 27 ~ In Honor of Bobby Hafemann

Bobby’s sister, Ronda Hatefi, has organized an annual day in her state for the last twenty years to remember her brother and all of those citizens who have been damaged by government-sponsored gambling. To highlight the voices and stories of the millions of Americans like Bobby Hafemann, we are organizing the first-ever National Day of Action Against Predatory Gambling on
Sat. Sept. 26 and Sun. Sept. 27. We will publicize how this public policy is dishonest, financially damaging to citizens and contributing to the unfairness and inequality in our country.

Through our creative actions we’ll call attention to the needed shift away from government’s dishonest, predatory and failed experiment with gambling toward a fairer, healthier and more hopeful vision of America’s future. Our common message:
Predatory gambling cheats and harms everyone–even those who don’t gamble.
See more at: http://stoppredatorygambling.org/blog/first-national-day-of-action-against-predatory-gambling-sept-26-27/

We’ve all seen the feel-good proclamations by public officials and their token efforts to stop the damage with their 1-800 phone numbers and their almost meaningless “self-exclusion” policies. But they still keep the machines running, designing them to be even more financially damaging and addictive,  while continuing to push more forms of predatory gambling onto citizens and making it even more accessible. This is why we have to confront and protest!! It’s Time!

There will be at least 100 separate actions across the United States. The “action” can be anything you (or your group) want it to be and the list of ideas is limitless. The action should reflect our common message. Some possibilities include: doing a visibility with homemade signs in your community, organizing a prayer vigil, participating in a “Freedom Players” event at a regional casino (or at a local restaurant/tavern with video gambling machines) and so on.
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So my pledge to this cause is to keep sharing all that is happening with this very special weekend here on my Gambling Recovery Blog. As I get more info I’ll share with all of you. I’ll be blogging my own experiences with the Oregon Lottery when I was living in Southern Oregon, and much of it is shared in my current published book,
“Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat” available on Amazon in paperback and e-book.

In Honor of Bobby Hafemann, and this up coming event, my E-book is now only $1.99 all summer long so those in recovery can download and read at a much more affordable price. And remember, gambling addiction is a real disease . . . .

*Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Gambling Recovery Advocate*

 

 

Yes it is Super Bowl Sunday and the Biggest Gambling Day of the Year ~ Sports Betting the Ugly Side

Hello Recovery Friends, Supporters, and Welcome New Visitors,

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My Favorite Player ~ Russell Wilson of the Seattle Sea Hawks!
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Now I know what your thinking, and NO, I was never a sports better when I was deep into my gambling addiction. But, today is the Biggest Gambling Day of the Year!
Sports Betting on the Super Bowl and a lot of Wasted Money. . .
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Now I currently live in the city and state where the Super Bowl is being held this year, I can not tell you how many Casino commercials I have seen on TV trying to lure guys to come  watch and bet on this years super bowl!! There are Indian Casinos everywhere here.And, not only is this day big money business for sports betting and gambling, but the women also go and gamble while their partners are watching the game. Casinos make a lot money on both ends of this spectrum today. So I thought it would be interesting to share some facts and info about this topic today from around the web. Now, I know I say this a lot,. . .I have no ill feelings toward others who can gamble normally, or don’t have a problem with gambling, and I don’t think gambling should be banned?

What I do have a problem with is the biggest betting day of the year, the profits made will be from the problem and addicted gamblers, not on the every once in a while sport better, card player, or slot player. So lets just see some real info so others can be informed and raise awareness of just what goes on in a day like today with Super Bowl Sunday & Gambling!

About Sports Betting:
Is sports betting a waste of time?
I feel like I already know it is, but could somebody please give me a definitive reason to quit betting? I know the whole concept behind it is that the bookies are making profits so they can run their shops and pay staff etc. This makes it obvious that customers are losing, in order to pay for this! Also if you are betting, you’re not actually doing anything useful or good in this world, the sports people are doing something with their lives and you are just sitting there pretending you know what’s going to happen. Still, it’s addictive and easy to believe you have a chance of winning long-term. . .

What Las Vegas Is
Are we headed toward our first true pick ’em Super Bowl of all time?
Super Bowl Odds Move, Seattle Betting Forces Spread Down.

As of early Sunday, several sportsbooks in Las Vegas and online had dropped the Super Bowl XLIX betting odds for the New England Patriots, who were consensus one-point favorites but are now down to pick ’em. The reason was a surge of late Seattle money, which OddsShark.com analysts predicted would continue up til game time.

The Golden Nugget in Vegas even moved the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks to one-point favorites for about six hours on Saturday with thousands of bettors in town just to wager on the big game. Only five times in Super Bowl history has the line closed at less than a field goal, ending up at -1 twice.

Dangers of Online Sports Betting:
The greatest danger in sports betting is compulsive gambling, that in many cases is fueled by a type of bets that has become very popular during the recent years in gambling houses called “live bets”. In certain events, the gambling houses allow people to bet while certain events are taking place, messing with the psychology of the gambler by offering very profitable odds. This leads to placing a bet and by definition, this type of bets are very volatile, making the player cover his losses if the game changes. Therefore, the player has placed two bets that were not part of his strategy and odds are he will lose on both. One of them for sure. It is not recommended to the novice gambler to participate in “live bets”.

What are Bookies:
A bookmaker, bookie, or turf accountant is an organization or a person that takes bets on sporting and other events at agreed upon odds.
Bookmakers in focus betting on professional sports, especially horse racing and association football; however, a wider range of bets, including on political elections, awards ceremonies such as The Oscars, and novelty bets can also be placed.

By adjusting the odds in their favor or by having a point spread, bookmakers will aim to guarantee a profit by achieving a ‘balanced book’, either by getting an equal number of bets for each outcome or (when they are offering odds) by getting the amounts wagered on each outcome to reflect the odds. When a large bet comes in, a bookmaker may also try to lay off the risk by buying bets from other bookmakers. Bookmakers do not generally attempt to make money from the bets themselves but rather by acting as market makers and profiting from the event regardless of the outcome. Their working methods are similar to that of an actuary, who does a similar balancing of financial outcomes of events for the assurance and insurance industries.
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Here’s what Forbes Mag says about Sports Betting on Super Bowl 49:

Surest Super Bowl Bet Ever?
More money will be gambled on Super Bowl XLIX—number 49 to those of us mystified by Roman numerals—than on any other sporting event this year. There’s nothing like it, for both legal and illegal wagers. At casinos in Las Vegas, online sportsbooks, in an office pool or somewhere else, America likes to bet on the Super Bowl. But bear in mind, not every bet is about winning or losing.

Many bets are so-called prop bets (propositions), over/unders and spreads. For example, what color hoodie will Patriots head coach Bill Belichick be wearing on game day? How many times will Gisele Bundchen be shown on TV during the game? Will the Seahawk’s Marshawn Lynch grab his crotch during the Super Bowl? These bets may be silly, but can be fun. A friendly or even a commercial bet on the Super Bowl seems all-American.

And this time of year, it’s also all-American to remember who gets a piece of every single bet every single day: the IRS. The safe bet is that the IRS gets a piece. Whether sports betting, rolling the dice, playing cards or betting on the ponies, all gambling winnings are always taxable income in the eyes of the IRS. And the IRS doesn’t allow you to automatically reduce your winnings by your losses to just report the difference.

How Much Money is Bet on the Super Bowl?
In last year’s Super Bowl Las Vegas sportsbooks made a killing.  For the first time in history, over $100 million dollars was wagered on the Super Bowl, and with the Seahawks blowout win (43-8) over the favored Denver Broncos, books also posted a record $19.7 million in profit.  These numbers are obviously impressive, but the return on the handle was only the second-highest in history at 16.5%.  The biggest return since 1991 still belongs to the 2005 Super Bowl between the Patriots and Eagles where sportsbooks returned 17% on their handle.There have been a lot of reports of wild prop bets being won, like players who won at 100-to-1 odds on the first score of the game being a Seahawks safety, but don’t let those numbers fool you.  Those exotic wagers don’t really mean much to the books when they are turning millions in profit on the game.

After a brief lull from 2008 to 2009, the amount wagered on the Super Bowl has steadily increased for six-straight years.  In fact, the 21% growth in the amount wagered from 2013 to 2014 is the biggest since 1995, which saw a 28% spike in the amount of wagers taken.
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So there you have it. This is just small snippets of the wealth of information out there about “Gambling and Sports Betting on Super Bowl”. But all I can guarantee is there will BE LOSERS, and very few winners. Most likely there are going to be more losers on this biggest betting and gambling day of the year.

So, if you plan to gamble? Please, be responsible, set a money limit and stick to it. For those who are in recovery from addicted gambling?? Read a good book! May I suggest my book about what I lost due to gambling addiction! And it wasn’t just the $$$$$. . . .
God Bless All,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485

“WHAT? The Holidays Are Here Already? ~What To Do In Recovery Around The Holidays …

Hello Recovery Friends and New Friends & Visitors,

 

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Now that the holidays are upon us, those of us in recovery can have a rough time around this time of the year. I know I have in the past ‘self sabotaged’ my own Christmas season. WHAT?
You want to know how I did that?

Well, I hate telling “gambling war stories” of my past “Compulsive Addicted Gambling”, but we all know we can learn a lot from others stories and personal experiences, so here goes! …

It was back around Christmas 2005, and we had almost lost our home to foreclosure, but a good friend of ours got a “short sale” done just before it did in late September. I was so angry with myself, feeling so much shame, guilt, and low self-worth that I knew it was because of my past gambling is how we got into this mess in the first place! Of course, no excuse’s, just insights.
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Well, that and were we lived was the first area hit hard at the very beginning of the financial & housing markets starting to collapse,  jobs going away, and we were having a rough go of it trying to get past the financial devastation from my past years of addicted gambling, along with my husband loosing his County job due to the Oregon timber funds no longer being given to Oregon communities.
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So the house sold, we rented a place to live and moved. But we didn’t get enough for the house to pay much off. And the rest of the money, and around Christmas? I had a bad Gambling Relapse. NO, not a one time slip, a bad relapse and binge. That was toward my final ROCK BOTTOM. It was so bad, that at the end, I tried to commit suicide for the 2nd time!! That’s how bad a binge it was. AND? I actually committed a crime. But that is a whole other blog post, or, you can read my full memoir of all I have been through with gambling addiction, alcohol abuse, living at that time with mental and emotional illness/disorders, thanks to all the years of compulsive addictive gambling, and all the cunning bad habits & behaviors we pick up along the way.
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It was at this time as I was in this relapse that I went through much of the money left over from the house, that was supposed to pay a chunk of a small balance on a private held 2nd mortgage. WELL. that never happened. I would gamble at two different types of places. The first was an Indian Casino North 42 miles from my home in Oregon. Then, I also gambled at many places that the Oregon Lottery had retail stores, with 6 video and slot style casino games on them. I could walk across the street to a bar and gamble AND drink! I could go up another few blogs and there were 4 other places I could go gamble too! Gambling through the Oregon Lottery is everywhere in Oregon.

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I had done well in my recovery, and had about 6 months gamble free at the time. But something was nagging at me. See, you need to know that no matter the addiction, it’s ‘always waiting’ for us. Like the holidays for instance, and the point of this post, we can have a lot of temptations around us at this time of year. There are holiday parties for both personal and work related, we may have had fall outs, (thanks to our addictions and why we have step 9…make amends where ever possible) with friends and family, many different reasons that can wind up as a trigger or bring on urges. Stress of the season, lack of money for presents, a slew of things swirling around in our heads!
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OK, where was I? OH, … if we are never shown, or work on “The Cycle” of addiction, we will always be one drinks, one pill, one needle, and one BET away form relapse. I know I talk about the “cycle” of addiction a lot because I never really was told, taught, or broke it down until way later in my recovery. Hard to believe, as I had gone to Gamblers Anonymous, and been in the rooms of AA for years, been in and out of out-patient gambling treatment programs, and in-patient treatment, therapy, AND, … treatment groups, and never was sat down and taught the full cycle of addiction, and broken down part by part.
And the ironic part? My treatment and crisis stays were paid for by profits from the Oregon Lottery!!

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Now there is always an event, thoughts, or even a feelings that triggers us. Then the build up, then we end up giving in and gamble, drink, or use that drug. After we feel guilt, shame, and remorse for being weak, and on and on. But if we are not shown or taught to break each section apart of the CYCLE, and learn to have awareness and feel when things are not right BEFORE you have that slip or relapse, then you will be forever stuck on that wheel of the addiction cycle. It needs to be interrupted and changed.
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Now here are some things I had to learn to get out of that ‘cycle’ and stay safe! Oh, and my other gambling war story? Make that long story short, I blew 8,000.00 in 2 1/2 months!!! That’s how cunning and insane addicted compulsive gambling really IS!! Yes, I had a choice, but when your sick, in the middle of an addiction, you don’t make health choices. I was gambling at the Oregon lottery places two and three times a day.
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And yes, I look back on those days and think, “what a frigging waste of money”.  But, you lose all sense of value of money, well, actually you don’t FEEL anything. And if you win? You’ll gamble every penny, and if you lose?, you’ll be out chasing the money you lost!  I was so zoned out when I crossed that line into addicted gambling, and one reason I take one of my meds for mental illness. Because all the years of addicted gambling depleted my brains ‘pleasure and reward’ feelings and chemicals to the point that I got no pleasure out of anything, yes, … even sex. I knew you all where thinking that right? LOL.
It’s been almost 8 years in recovery and I still don’t have a bank ATM/Debit card. It could be a trigger.
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That is one of the things I did. Well, my husband did to safe guard himself and our money. Not that now he doesn’t trust me, I don’t still trust MYSELF, because my addiction and I are always ONE BET AWAY from disaster. Another thing to tie all this up in a Big Christmas Recovery Bow, is to have a “Relapse Plan” ready to use when this time of year rolls around. Actually, for anytime. We face life events all the time in our recovery. It’s one of the ways our addiction can tempt us. When were vulnerable. Also with HALT…
H-Hungry … A-Angry … L-Lonely … T-Tired ….
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Some of my relapses happened that I talk about in my current published book, Addicted To Dimes. When I attempted suicide the first time, it was from addicted gambling and undiagnosed Bipolar.
Spent 19 days in a Mental & Addiction crisis center, with the first 4 days on suicide watch. Not Fun! Second time, like I shared earlier, a bad gambling relapse/binge, and some of my Bipolar and severe depression meds stopped working to, but not the reason for me relapsing.
That’s on me. And I have taken accountability and ownership for all my misdeeds I did within my addiction. I have done much of the deep recovery work to learn about my addiction, how to stay in recovery, the inner work of my character defects, and more.
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I still have a sponsor today, and she says I’m her model recovery student! LOL.
So do yourself a favor this Holiday Season, and give yourself a Christmas gift. Go to my resource pages here on my blog, and copy & paste my “Relapse Prevention Guide” I have posted here. It has all you need to know about keeping you and your families money SAFE. I had to copy and paste the whole work book myself to put it here for all to use.
It will save you through life events and the holidays!
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OR A PROBLEM GAMBLER.
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Yes, I still have had moments when life throws way to much your way in life, and no matter how hard, and how much recovery work you do, you still need a relapse plan.
When I lost my mom and my best friend from cancer in 2002? I had a huge relapse. It was not pretty!!
And some of my triggers? Paydays, and paychecks! If I had no money to gamble with, I would obsess until it was payday! And off I went! Can’t tell how many times I spent a whole paycheck in just an HOUR of addicted gambling! Does this sound familiar anyone?
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The other thing you need to do in your recovery, again, learn and break down the “Cycle” of addiction.
The last gambling specialist I had, and I talk about him to in my book, worked with me for a whole year on the cycle of gambling addiction. He would not release me until I could tell him how to interrupt the cycle and tell him each part of addiction cycle. HE drove me crazy! But, he is a big part of why I’m a success in my recovery today. I call him my ANGEL. Thanks to Boyd I will celebrate 8 years in recovery on Jan 29th. 2015. He helped me get my Life Back!
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So I wish you all a Fabulous Holiday Season! And if you know anyone who may be a problem gambler, please share my recovery blog link with them. It just might save their life …
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Good Resources about Problem and Addicted Gambling can be found at
Gamblers Anonymous: http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/  and a great place to is The National Council on Problem Gambling: http://www.ncpgambling.org/
And the National Hotline for Gambling Addiction ~ 1-800-522-4700. And of course you can buy and mail my book or e-book of my personal story of Gambling Addiction as a Christmas Gift too!
http://www.amazon.com/Addicted-Dimes-Confessions-Liar-Cheat-ebook/dp/B00CSUJI3A

May God Bless You All,
Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

Gambling Addiction,Our Vets, And People In General=Homelessness, Are They Linked?

Hello and Welcome Friends, Seekers, and New Visitors,

 I happen to be on the social media site LinkedIn, and happen to see a question that was asked in one of my Addiction & Recovery Groups I belong to there. They asked if others think that gambling addiction is directly linked to homelessness of people who become addicted?
Now, I got to thinking myself, what an interesting questions to ask.

As we all know by seeing the homeless in our won communities throughout the US, and it is present in many different countries like the UK. In the UK, they are having an explosion of gamblers using an electronic device that is supposed to help your ODDS AT WINNING called an FOBT machine, but sadly it’s not very true, or works out that way. I have seen homeless women in my own communities of So. Oregon, and now here in Arizona. Does gambling have a direct link to some of our homeless in our communities?
Well, I found Studies, Facts , and articles that was written that supports it sure does!

Here is a little of what it found from the study:
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New study reveals scale of problem gambling among homeless population

New study reveals scale of problem gambling among homeless population
Credit: Gavin Mills/The Connection at St Martin’s ~April 3, 2014
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Homeless people are ten times more likely to be problem gamblers than the UK population as a whole, researchers at Cambridge have found.

The study – one of the largest surveys of and homelessness ever undertaken in the UK – provides new insight into a rarely studied problem and suggests services should offer clients more support to identify and tackle .

Although homelessness and problem gambling are two public health concerns, they are rarely considered together. This new study – published in the Journal of Gambling Studies – interviewed 450 people at homeless hostels and shelters in the London Borough of Westminster.

According to lead author Steve Sharman from the Department of Psychology: “Many issues face the homeless population, including drug and alcohol use. In terms of addiction research, most focus has been on drugs, alcohol and smoking, but the gambling field is relatively small in comparison. And while it is possible to spot physiological indicators of drug and alcohol addiction, problem gambling is much harder to identify.”

Finding out more about gambling addiction is important at a time when gambling opportunities are wider than ever. “Gambling has exploded in popularity over the past 20 years, partly due to changes in legislation but also because of new technology,” said Sharman.

“Where earlier generations were limited to betting shops and football pools, today there’s everything from online slots to in-play betting. That means people can gamble 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the more people who gamble, the more people there will be who do so problematically.”

Together with researchers at Kings College London, the National Problem Gambling Clinic, The Connection @ St Martins and other centres in Westminster, Sharman spoke to over 450 homeless people in London.

He assessed levels of problem gambling using a standard clinical diagnostic tool called the Problem Gambling Severity Index. He then compared the results with data from the British gambling Prevalence Survey.

*Now even though this study was conducted in the UK, people are people no matter where a person lives.
I also found another article that was done awhile ago, before the huge expansion of gambling opportunities now with Indian Casinos and State Lotteries. It to contributes and links addicted & problem gambling to homelessness*…
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New statistics suggest link between gambling, homelessness…

FACT: Comments on a study done in 1998 by the International Union of Gospel Missions (IUGM) which found that almost twenty percent of homeless people surveyed cite gambling as a cause of their situation. Number of shelters included in the IUGM study; Percentage of people who are still gambling even after becoming homeless; How the gambling industry has responded to the report; National implications as legislators debate the moral aspects of gambling…

Here is another article about our VETS and a link to homelessness due to Gambling Addiction in Psychology Today:

Vets Vulnerable to Gambling Addictions:
VA is doing little to address growing concern about vets’ problem gambling.
After risking their lives in combat, many vets don’t feel that rolling the dice for money is that big a gamble. But a number of authorities are concluding that combat vets are at higher risk to become problem gamblers, and the VA is doing little to address that problem.

In the current edition of the American Journal on Addictions, Drs. Joe Westermeyer of the Minneapolis VA Medical Center and Jose Canive of the Albuquerque VA Medical Center reported on a gambling study that involved nearly 2,000 veterans from VA centers and community clinics in Albuquerque, N.M., and in Minneapolis.

“The prevalence rates of gambling problems and pathological gambling among veterans receiving VA health care exceeded those rates reported in the general population by two to four times,” their study concluded. “Compared to other populations, female and younger veterans were at particular high risk.”

And the study predicted that the problems may worsen because the proportion of problem gamblers to pathological gamblers was high.

“Many gamblers may still be in the early stages of their problematic gambling careers,” the study explained. “And the prevalence of pathological gambling may yet increase notably among veterans in the coming years.”

Veterans showed a 2 percent lifetime prevalence rate of pathological gambling, double the 1 percent rate in the nation’s general population. The study also found the lifetime prevalence rate for problem gambling among veterans at 8.8 percent, and the concern is that many of the problem gamblers could become pathological gamblers.

The study also cited two earlier studies. One involved 412 Minneapolis vets receiving VA mental health care services; 15 percent were lifetime pathological gamblers and another 25 percent had one or more lifetime gambling symptoms. In a Ohio residential program for homeless vets with substance abuse problems, 14 percent were pathological gamblers.

“These findings imply that the VA health care system should consider screening for problem gambling and pathological gambling,” concluded the study by Westermayer, Carnive and three colleagues. “Developing low-cost, efficacious, preventive interventions is also warranted.”

The study echoed conclusions set forth in a letter from the National Council on Problem Gambling to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki six months ago.

“Gambling addiction is a serious health problem that affects veterans and active-duty service members,” said the letter from NCPG Executive Director Keith S. Whyte. “It is highly co-occurring with other serious conditions and complicates the treatment of these disorders. In addition, gambling addiction has disastrous consequences for the veteran and his or her family.”

Whyte noted that 1 percent to 3 percent of the American public experience gambling problems in any given year, but “studies consistently find rates among age-matched veterans are significantly higher, and highest among minorities. Rates are even higher among veterans seeking treatment for some other disorder.”

Whyte cited the following statistics:

  • Studies of veterans utilizing VA treatment services found 10 percent were pathological or problems gamblers.
  • A community survey of vets found that 9 percent of American Indians and 4 percent of Hispanics had a pathological gambling problem at some time in their lives.
  • Vets in treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder may be as much as 60 times more likely to have a gambling problem than age-matched members of the general population.
  • Among veterans hospitalized on a VA inpatient psychiatric unit, 28 percent were classified as problem gamblers and another 12 percent as pathological gamblers.
  • Rates of depression among vets with pathological gambling problems have been shown to be as high as 76 percent.
  • And “suicide is extremely common, with 40 percent of veterans seeking treatment for gambling reporting suicide attempts.”

The National Council on Problem Gambling recommended a two-part study of Veterans Health Administration patients to determine the severity of gambling problems and to assess the VHA’s readiness to address problem gambling issues among vets.

Whyte’s letter noted that the House Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Committee had already requested such a study and development of a treatment program for problem VHA gamblers.

“Problem gambling programs may provide cost savings for VHA through improved recovery rates, decreased demand in current substance abuse and mental health care programs, and a reduction in the social costs generated by untreated problem and pathological gamblers,” wrote Whyte. “Most importantly, it will ensure veterans and their families receive the best possible services and enjoy the highest quality of life possible.”

Despite repeated requests, the VA hasn’t said whether Shinseki had ever acted on the NCPG letter.
However, Whyte said neither he nor the congressional committee has received a response from the VA.
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SO, I’ll close with this, Addicted Compulsive Gambling is GROWING. It has no bounds on who it chose’s do touch next. Our Vets are very vulnerable. Why?

Because when they come home traumatized from war, and then have all this free time on their hands when they get home, I’m sure many use addicted or problem gambling to “Escape” all the horrific things they have seen in war. PTSD is a mean BEAST! It’s why many like myself used gambling to cope, mask, or escape from childhood abuse and trauma. We don’t know any better to process all we have been through in a Healthy way.
We also may not have been raised to know that there places to go for help. The other set of people that gambling is preying on is our Seniors & College age young adults as well.

It’s time for something more to be done. Just like this article said, SUICIDE is very high among addicted compulsive gamblers. Even higher than drug addiction. So we need to talk and speak out about this expanding problem! ‘Shatter Stigma’ around this issue. It’s why I’m a recovering Advocate for Addicted & Problem Gambling. There are many resources available for gambling addiction. Please feel free to visit my Recovery Resource Page, as I have many of them listed for you.

And lastly, to the MAN from my social media site group who said; “PLUEASE, HAVE YOU NOT HEARD OF CRACK”, in response to a question Of, Does Gambling Addiction play a role in HOMELESSNESS?
HERE”S YOUR ANSWERS…..

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Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
A Recovering Addicted Compulsive Gambler In Recovery 7+yrs.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485


			

“FEAR”….It’s In My Recovery, In My Mental Illness, And In My Past Pain Of Childhood Trauma”…

Hello And Welcome Recovery Friends & Seekers,

 

What does fear mean to you?
Do you live with any type of fear?
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How can one word have so many different meanings? Even though FEAR happens to most people if we let it, fear comes in many different forms. Some fear we can control, but there is much about fear that we have no control over. Lets start with just the definition of FEAR:
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fear
fi(ə)r/
noun
noun: fear; plural noun: fears
  1. 1.
    an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
    “drivers are threatening to quit their jobs in fear after a cabby’s murder”
anxiety, worry, angst, unease, uneasiness.
informalthe creeps, the shivers, the willies, the heebie-jeebies, jitteriness, twitchiness, butterflies (in the stomach)
“he felt fear at entering the house”
informalhang-up
“she overcame her fears”
  • archaic
    a mixed feeling of dread and reverence.
    “the love and fear of God”
  • a feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety and well-being of someone.
    “police launched a search for the family amid fears for their safety”
verb
verb: fear; 3rd person present: fears; past tense: feared; past participle: feared; gerund or present participle: fearing
  1. 1.
    be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.
    “he said he didn’t care about life so why should he fear death?”
    synonyms: be afraid of, be fearful of, be scared of, be apprehensive of, dread, live in fear of, be terrified of;

    be anxious about, worry about, feel apprehensive about
    “she feared her husband”
    have a phobia about, have a horror of, take fright at
    “he fears heights”
    • feel anxiety or apprehension on behalf of.
      “I fear for the city with this madman let loose in it”
      synonyms: worry about, feel anxious about, feel concerned about, have anxieties about More

      “they feared for his health”
    • used to express regret or apology.
      “I’ll buy her book, though not, I fear, the hardback version”
    • archaic
      regard (God) with reverence and awe.
      synonyms: stand in awe of, revere, reverence, venerate, respect More

      “all who fear the Lord”
Origin
Old English fǣr ‘calamity, danger,’ fǣran ‘frighten,’ also ‘revere.’

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What stands out the most about the word fear is the words, scared, frightened, apprehensive.
See, I have many different types of fear I live and struggle with daily! Some comes from recovery, some come from my mental illness disorders, and even though I have 7yrs from the bet,  from gambling addiction, I still have a couple amends fears I still need to work through.
The biggest at the moment is the one with my own father.
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That’s a whole other blog post. I have guilt about this one amends as I’m now only 4 hours away from where my dad lives, as opposed to when I was still living in So. Oregon, which is an 11 1/2 hour drive. I have to get past the fear of my father turning me away if I was to go down and visit, and try to make an amends with him since it has been 9 years since he has spoken to me, and for a reason I have no clue of. So I guess in the back of my mind I feel that I wasn’t the one who stopped communicating with him, so why should I have to make the amends?

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But as we all know in recovery, we need to be the better person regardless, and I need to at least try. I know that. But knowing and doing are very two different things. The other huge fear I have in the amends department is the one to my Best Friend! I’ll call her Deb. What prompted this whole “Fear Thing” was, yesterday I found out my best friend Deb’s dad passed away on May 8th, last month. My heart fell into my stomach. Deb and her family moved next door to us in So. Calif. when we were 13 years old, her and I. We had done everything together. Sleep overs, school, dating, and more! We were like sisters. This month we actually would have been friends for 37 years! But because of my addiction, we became estranged. She went into AA, and I was still gambling my Ass Off! I didn’t try, or reach out for recovery from addicted gambling and alcohol abuse until a year and half later.
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But within that year and a half I had done some pretty bad things to her, again, another whole future blog post. But with her going to AA, I thought, “well she would understand some day how stupid I was within my addiction, and that I never meant to hurt her.” We had been friends to long for that. I also thought, “well, she is in AA so she will understand the whole forgive and amends thing right”?  WRONG! She also has the choice to not forgive and not be friends, which is what happened. SO,….. that’s another amends I need to get done. But that stupid, freaking, FEAR keeps holding me back!
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Or am I using it as an excuse because of fear of rejection, of being hurt myself? Then I have the fears that come along with my daily challenges of mental illness on top of the recovery fear challenges, and it all sometimes gets a bit overwhelming for me some days. So I’m currently working on my fears, dissociation, depression, and agoraphobia with panic with my mental health psychiatrist and councilor on life skills to help me through all this. I also was asked by them to journal at the end of each day the “thoughts” I tell myself of why I don’t follow through on the things I want to do outside my home, but my fear from the agoraphobia holds me hostage! I felt like telling my councilor, I don’t have a discussion going on in my head all day, or talk to myself! But he says I’m doing it in my conscience somewhere. What Ever….
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Here is what ‘Agoraphobia fear’ definition:

Breaking down the term agoraphobia gives us its literal definition.
A phobia is an intensely irrational fear. This meaning suggests that agoraphobia is an intense and abnormal fear of open or public places. But, this definition falls short in explaining the true meaning of this condition.
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For the agoraphobic, the fear is not necessarily associated with open spaces. The central feature of agoraphobia is intense fear (panic response) of being in certain situations in which escape is difficult or potentially embarrassing, or where help is not readily available. This may include many places that would not meet the definition of open spaces, including many confined spaces. Such situations may include leaving home alone, being home alone, traveling by car, train or bus, being in an elevator, being in a crowd, being in a large store or mall, being on a bridge or standing in a line.
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The fear associated with agoraphobia results in behavioral changes in order to avoid feared situations. An individual with agoraphobia may survey settings for escape routes and avoid situations where an exit is not easily available. This leads to avoidant behavior that may include only driving on certain roads, always sitting near the door in meeting or school settings, avoiding crowded places, or avoiding any place where it may be difficult to get to an exit. In extreme cases, the fear may become so consuming that the individual will not leave the house alone or becomes homebound altogether.
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Now there is more, but I don’t want to bore you death!…LOL. But the key word we see over and over is FEAR. So, am I doomed to never be a part of life, part of the living, enjoying all the outdoors has to offer me? At this point, I don’t know. I take each day as it comes. I do however, feel the trauma I endured as a child plays a big part in this big nasty mix of things. It definitely made it difficult for me to feel close to my father when I was younger, and into my teens. But I have had worked hard to get through all that, as it was/is part of my recovery work and therapy, what happened to me was not my father’s fault when I was a little girl. And it was not my fault either.
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I also think I had a set back from the quick and traumatic move that happened this pass Sept 2013, from having to make the choice for my hubby’s job to move from SO. Oregon to Glendale, AZ. I really don’t care for the desert, it’s why I moved from So. Calif. to SO. Oregon when I was only 25 years old. I wanted away from the heat, smog, and long drive for work. Our lives began there, my husband and I, and lived there for 26 years. I miss if very much. And don’t get me started about the whole move and drive for 2 days to get here. AWFUL!!
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I’ll close with an Inspirational Quote….
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Recovery has given me a life now with no regrets…. just a few things to do.
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Happiness & Blessings All,
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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