I read in today’s paper an article by John Guerriero that the state has banned its 5,000 person from its 10 casinos, including ours.
I don’t gamble, but I used to have a good friend who did and being with him gave my first real taste of a gambling addiction.
I’ve been around alcoholics and work-a-holics since birth, shop-a-holics since college, and even been friends with a prescriptive drug addict or two in my adult years. All of those I sort have understood. But I never quite grasped the lure or scope of a gambling addiction.
My shortsighted understanding of this compulsion stems most likely from my distaste of gambling, which has nothing to do with morality. I just on’t like wasting money on something that so clearly is stacked against me and from which I derive no interim joy. But that’s just me. So when my out of town, gambling friend came to visit right after Presque Isle Downs and Casino opened several years ago, he asked that we go “take a look.” I knew he frequented casinos in our homestate of Connecticut, but I had no grasp of the hold gambling had on him.
As we walked in the glass doors, I felt the change in him at once. His energy amped up. His normally taciturn demeanor vanished. He bristled with palpable excitement, smiling broadly. His posture straightened, he moved quickly ahead of me and seemed aglow in the ambiance of the place. Christmas morning and he was 8 all over again.
Then he turned to me, emptied his pockets of his wallet, his credit cards and debit card, his car keys and cell phone. Handing them all over to me, he said in a low voice, “Don’t give any of this back to me. No matter what.” I am not sure how much he lost that half hour or so that he played the slots, but his precautionary measure surely prevented him from losing more.
I applaud those 5,000 people who have taken the crucial step by asking to be banned from the state’s casinos. If you suspect you might be a compulsive gambler, here are some questions to ask yourself.