Gambling addiction on the rise even as state fosters more

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Our society is increasingly plagued with all sorts of addictions, whether alcohol, drugs (legal and illegal), pornography, tobacco, food, video games, etc., etc.

It’s no secret that the human psyche can become addicted to just about anything. It’s not what we control, but what controls us that makes the difference.

For instance, there’s nothing wrong with money per se, but it’s the love of money that creates havoc.

Most people who love money don’t have it, which makes the lottery and casinos such an insidious temptation. Consequently, gambling has become big business, catering to those who out of greed desire to get-rich-quick.

While very few ever win, the “gambling bug” sets many up for a fall, losing whatever little they had initially. I know people who have gambled away their homes, businesses and their livelihoods. Make no mistake, this menace is on the rise, leaving a trail of devastation behind.

Interestingly, in our state of Ohio, before our four casinos opened, officials were already anticipating the potential epidemic of “problem gamblers.”

According to a recent Tribune Chronicle article, just months after these gaming places opened, a multitude of “addicted gamblers” began showing up at state-run treatment centers. Thousands of calls have been received by the gambling hotline in the last twelve months. “Hundreds have asked to be banned from all Ohio casinos because they say they cannot stop gambling.” What a travesty!

We have a scenario here where the state wants to gain more revenue through gaming enterprise, yet the “game” takes advantage of human weakness and temptation, creating havoc in the end. Is this a wise and fruitful means of dropping coins in the state coffer?

It’s a shame that such a ploy for funds should be necessary in light of all the potential destruction of individual lives, families and jobs. Now these addicts will need welfare and psychological “treatment” at the further cost of the state? Does that make sense? Look what’s already happening with the horrific world of legal alcohol? Do we need more of the same?

This idea that gambling enhances the state revenue and community life is bunk. I lived most of my life in New Jersey, where the casino industry took over Atlantic City in 1973. I witnessed firsthand the demise of a once-beautiful shore resort, in spite of the promise to “help the senior citizens.”

What a joke! The seniors were pushed out of town, and the area two blocks from the beach became a slum. The Rescue Mission in town began to mushroom with clients, not the typical ”bums,” but well-dressed clientele from the casinos.

I saw one guy firsthand staggering in the door with vomit stains on his suit; he was crying that his car, wallet, gold watch, etc., had been stolen. Yes, he came with a roll of greenbacks, but he got rolled (robbed), losing it all! Here the up-and-outer needed a meal and a cot along with the down-and-outers.

I also understand that the Mission and other agencies received considerable amounts in donations from casinos for taking so many addicts off their hands. New Jersey is still in financial trouble, and so are the casinos. Atlantic City was more recently hit hard by the storm Sandy, but it was already in bad shape through the deception and travesties connected with gambling.

Yes, you can lose money investing in Wall Street, but at least you can find a viable, legitimate establishment to hopefully share in its profit as part owner. While life itself is risky in many areas, the risk of pure chance and luck at the gaming table is a price much too high to pay.

That price must also be considered by the conscience of the casino regarding its effect and influence on its weak and idealistic patrons. This is risky business! There’s got to be a better way to raise state revenue.