A Risky Wager

Overworked and underpaid is often heard by those who have a job with long, tiresome hours. Maybe it’s because the job just isn’t paying the credit card bills, the tuition or, in some cases, the mortgage.

They want a fun and easy way to earn money quickly. So they try their chances at gambling. They win on the first game with beginner’s luck, and then sometimes they can’t stop.

Tom Talley, a national certified gambling counselor for the Gambling Crisis Center in St. Petersburg, said the addiction to gambling can be as critical as addictions to drugs and alcohol.

“It can be more serious financially,” Talley said. “It destroys businesses and families faster than anything I’ve ever seen.”

Talley said gambling is an addiction that leads to depression, but oftentimes the person was depressed going into the game.

“What gambling does is relieve the depression because it’s a high, it’s an upper,” Talley said. “The loss of a loved one or low self-esteem – gambling temporarily fixes that pain.”

The depression felt from the losses a gambler experiences, Talley said, is serious enough to drive that person to suicide.

In order to help the person before it’s too late, Talley said as with any other addiction, the gambler has to recognize the problem and go to counseling regularly. Next, the person needs to be informed about his or her problem.

“We have to educate them, as well as the family, so that person can recover from the addiction,” Talley said. “We talk about their losses and whether it has interfered with work or family.”

An office administrator for Caesars Palace, a hotel casino in Atlantic City, said she believes some guests spend their whole paycheck in one night. Caden, who would not release her last name due to hotel policies, said each casino has a different quality that lures players.

Incentives such as offering a free hotel room for one night to previous players and offering discounts on show tickets in the local newspaper brings in the guests.

“For someone who has been here you want to bring them back,” Caden said. “And let’s face it – if you win at an establishment you want to go back because you feel lucky there.”

Junior Jeff Arison, who has gambled in Las Vegas, said he mostly played roulette and the slot machines because that is where he won most of his games. Arison said there were poker tables in the casinos where a person would have to place at least $1,000.

Arison said the most he spent was about $300 in the casinos but ended up earning $200.

“I only went out with a certain amount of money each night and left my ATM card at the hotel,” Arison said. “It was just about trying to make more money and taking the risk.”

Caden said in the casinos, gamblers are given cards to use the slot machines or table games. And the card records the amount of time and money the player uses at each game.

Caden said the card has a number that can later retrieve the player’s address so the casino can send offers through the mail to bring the player back.

“There are about 13 casinos here and each one has a different flare,” Caden said. “It’s like going to Disney World, they’re both an amusement place.”

Caden said she realizes some people have to receive treatment because of addictions with gambling, but they have to be smart enough to control their own body and mind.

“This is not something the casino will watch for you,” Caden said. “You have to know when to stop or just have the money to spend.”

Contact Grace Agostinat oraclegrace@yahoo.com