Sharing Some Informative News. Problem or Addicted Gambling Can Touch Anyone as it Did The Shooter of ‘The Worst Mass Shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. Now, a New Film of The Cover-Up… Money Machine.

Sharing Some Informative News. Problem or Addicted Gambling Can Touch Anyone as it Did The Shooter of ‘The Worst Mass Shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. Now, a New Film of The Cover-Up… Money Machine.

Welcome Friends and Inquiring Recovery Minds to Bet Free Recovery Now!

…..

It has been a long while since I have shared my own recovery ramblings and news, my thoughts about what is going on with those maintaining recovery, or for those looking for some help and hope from this insidious insane addiction.  Even in these uncertain times with the COVID-19 pandemic still alive and spreading, many people are finding it difficult to stay at home and still social distance.

I for one do not like isolation as I did a lot of that within my addiction and with my mental health challenges. I also feel people don’t do well being told they can’t go anywhere… Lol. That’s me! One of my character defects I’m still working on. Lol.

I happen to get an email with some interesting news from my friends and Les Bernal of the organization and foundation of Stop Predatory Gambling regarding a new film coming out about The Las Vegas Mass Shooting and how the MGM and others were covering the shooters gambling problems. Now, I know it has been almost 3-years since this tragic event and if you recall, I did a few blog posts after this event happened and can read this one– Was Problem Gambling a Factor?  Because my gut feelings about the same things I’m sharing from Les Bernal are of the same topics.

FROM: Stop Predatory Gambling

Hi Catherine,

I’m writing to strongly urge you to watch an important new film being released on July 3 and for you to encourage your family, friends, community members, and legislators to do the same.

The film is called Money Machine and it exposes the cover-up led by MGM Casinos and Las Vegas elected officials to hide the true motive behind mass shooter Stephen Paddock (his gambling addiction to video poker machines) which led him to kill 58 people and wound hundreds of others during the Route 91 country music festival near the Mandalay Bay Casino in 2017.

I watched Money Machine when it was screened at the Cleveland Film Festival this past spring. It’s a powerful film that will lead people of goodwill, from all political stripes, to ask themselves and their local and state officials who promote the casino business in their region: Why do we allow such an evil, predatory, greed-driven scheme to operate in our communities with our government’s active endorsement and support?

Stop Predatory Gambling is not associated with the film in any way but we believe it merits serious public attention and action.

Money Machine was supposed to be released in theaters nationwide but because COVID has closed the cinemas, tickets can be purchased in advance of July 3 to watch the film online athttps://theatricalathome.com/products/money-machine
…..
You can watch the movie trailer to Money Machine at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lN2In-qfp8&t=20s

……
The link to the Facebook page for Money Machine can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/MoneyMachinemovie

…..
Thanks for helping us get the word out.

Best,
Les Bernal
Stop Predatory Gambling
###########

It has received many awards and reviews are incredible…

Money Machine

…….
Money Machine

Director
Ramsey Denison
Producers
Doug Blush, Ramsey Denison
Cinematography
Evan Crane
Editing
Ramsey Denison
Print Source
Sin City Studios

…..

……..
“On October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of more than 22,000 concertgoers from his hotel room at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. In a matter of minutes, Paddock killed 58 people and wounded more than 400.

It was the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States. Yet, just a couple of years later, Vegas seems to have forgotten it completely. Needless to say, mass shootings are not good for business, and it didn’t take long for the Vegas money machine to get to work making this one disappear.

In the aftermath of remarketing Las Vegas as a safe destination for tourists, many questionable practices were put into placeone of the most shocking being filing a lawsuit against the victims of this devastating tragedy.”


///////
On top of that, despite the popular #VegasStrong movement and nationwide fundraising, there’s still a huge question of where all that money went. An enthralling documentary about the dark side of the Las Vegas economy, MONEY MACHINE exposes Sin City’s darkest secrets… Including the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States of America. Director Ram Denison explores the aftermath of the attack, while also exhaustively documenting the LVPD’s odd response and investigation of the incident in the hard to watch, but excellent,
Money Machine.

He interviews survivors, private investigators, retired police officers, along with witnesses to piece together the events of that night. More importantly, Denison deep dives into how the politicians and cops allowed the city to return to normal as quickly as possible. For example, the memorial for the domestic terrorist attack is seven miles away from where it occurred. It is nestled in a small suburb, well hidden from downtown Las Vegas that dominates the public consciousness of the city…

Why would the site be so far away? Well, as the title Money Machine not so subtlety, money is the answer. Las Vegas casinos brought in over $25 billion in revenue annually. As investigative reporter Doug Poppa lays out in his 100+ articles about the attack and its aftermath, Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who refused to be interviewed for the documentary, bungled the investigation via improper timelines and refusal to publicly release all the evidence (including hiding that the first officer on the scene was too scared to engage the shooter) to keep the economy of the city alive. If people are too frightened to show up, how would the corporations that own the casinos make money?

Yes, that sounds like a conspiracy theory, and I don’t really prescribe to them, but the evidence here is overwhelming. Poppa is probably the most informative interviewee as to why the Mandalay Bay shooting has left the consciousness so quickly. The most heartbreaking interviewee is that of survivor Katherine Thornton.

She is convinced she heard another round of shots coming from a second location, but the official word is that there was only one shooter. But that does not explain how cab driver Cori Langdon recorded a second volley of shots being fired with her cellphone. That other burst was much closer to her and on a lower floor than the one Stephen Paddock was firing from.

I hope everyone will take advantage of this opportunity to watch this film and learn the real story behind the worst mass shooting in our history and how it was being covered-up because raking in all those profits for casinos is what it’s all about for Las Vegas. Bad press and media are BAD 4 Business…


We Remember The Victims.

……

Victims of the Las Vegas concert shooting - CNN.com

 


The Theatrical Trailer For MONEY MACHINE

 

 

Part Three of our ‘Oregon Lottery For-Profit Gambling Awareness’ Series. Courtesy of The Oregonian News.

“Oregon Lottery: Lawmakers, counting on the cash, resist reforms”


.

imageedit_1_2667344462
.
By Harry Esteve | hesteve@oregonian.com

Rep. Carolyn Tomei  (in 2013) was finally getting traction on reining in the Oregon Lottery.

The 77-year-old Democrat, who represents Milwaukie and a wedge of Southeast Portland, had spent years fighting for tighter controls on state-sponsored gambling, angered by the lives it ruins and the Legislature’s see-no-evil complicity.

She poured it on during the 2013 legislative session, rounding up experts and recovering addicts to talk about the lottery’s swath of destruction. She gathered support for bills that would require the agency to hire a problem-gambling specialist and to scale back its “maximize revenue” mission.

She found an ally in House Speaker Tina Kotek, who went after the lottery’s lax rules on “delis” that offer video slot and poker machines and little else. “Some lottery retailers operate as de facto casinos,” Kotek, a Democrat who represents North Portland, testified at a House committee hearing.

Tomei, who chaired the House Human Services Committee, also won strong backing from her vice chair, Clackamas Republican Bill Kennemer, a counselor who has seen the damage of gambling addiction up close.

Things were looking up for Tomei. But she was about to learn a hard lesson about power, money and a state agency’s ferocious will to protect itself. When all was said and done, Tomei landed in a place she never imagined.

If Oregon has political sacred cows, count the lottery as part of the herd. Despite years of hand-wringing by policymakers, from the governor on down, the state’s multibillion-dollar gambling enterprise has done little but GROW.

Lottery revenue timeline

” Revenue from the Oregon Lottery’s “traditional games,” such as scratch-off tickets and Megabucks, has remained relatively flat over the years, while profits from video slot and poker machines has soared. Roll over the dots to see key events in the lottery’s history.”

.
ad8847150c3dee3f
.

A generation after Oregon voters agreed to allow scratch tickets and number-picking games, video lottery machines blink and jingle in bars, restaurants and strip malls across the state. Colorful slot games, known in casino circles as the “crack cocaine of gambling,” hook growing ranks of problem gamblers.

Yet with the lottery pumping more than a half-billion dollars a year into the state’s general fund, few are willing to touch it. Lottery officials say the games offer harmless entertainment while raising millions of dollars for schools, parks, and big construction projects. Critics call it a pathway to addiction.

Les Bernal, head of the national anti-lottery group Stop Predatory Gambling, says that when he gives talks about the harm caused by state-run gambling, he often ends with a slide of the Oregon Lottery’s good-luck logo.

“During the Greatest Generation, we had posters of Rosie the Riveter,” Bernal says. Outside military recruitment, he says, “the dominant voice of government today is urging citizens to lose money.”

“We’ve gone from a biceps flex to two crossed fingers.”

Scratch tickets to slots

In the grip of a recession that saw dozens of timber mills close and home values tank, Oregonians voted in 1984 to create the Oregon Lottery to raise money for economic development. The constitutional amendment called on the lottery to operate “so as to produce the maximum amount of net revenues” but added the phrase “commensurate with the public good.”

Scratch tickets and Megabucks rolled out in 1985. Six years later, the Legislature gave the nod to video poker, setting in motion the spread of machines in taverns, diners and thinly disguised delis. Along the way came Keno drawings every four minutes, sports wagering (later eliminated) and multi-state games such as Powerball with the potential for huge jackpots.

Among the earliest to sound the alarm against the state’s growing dependence on gamblers was Gov. John Kitzhaber. Early in his first term, he convened a task force to study the impact of gambling. The task force, led by then-Attorney General Ted Kulongoski and Peter Bragdon, who later became Kulongoski’s chief of staff, warned that the lottery was doing just fine on the “maximize revenues” part but was addicting too many players to claim it was balancing the “public good.”

Kulongoski and Bragdon teamed up to write a withering condemnation of state-run gambling as a way to fund state programs. “States that rush to raise revenues from gambling without thinking more than we did are playing a potentially addictive game of chance,” they wrote in a 1996 Op-Ed piece published in The New York Times.

But the biggest expansion since video poker came after Kulongoski took over as governor. Seeking a dedicated revenue source for state police, Kulongoski acquiesced to pressure to add “line games” — electronic slot machines — to the lottery’s video offerings. The first slot game was introduced in 2005, and lottery revenues soon soared. A year later, revenue surpassed $1 billion for the first time. The money never was earmarked for police. The Legislature made sure it got absorbed into the state’s general fund.

As predicted, state gambling profits have become an integral part of the state budget. The bulk goes to education, but lottery dollars have refurbished dilapidated state parks and allowed the state to open new ones. It has provided cash or backed loans for dozens of projects, from a $50,000 theater renovation in Baker City to a $1.8 million expansion of Daimler Trucks’ corporate headquarters in Portland.

To remind Oregonians, the lottery spends millions of dollars a year on ads, such as its “It does good things” campaign.

“People are terrified”

After trying and failing to tighten rules on state gambling in previous legislative session, Tomei sensed an opening in 2013. Two years before, outrage over the lottery’s ill-fated attempt to launch an Internet game site, The ORcade, prompted the agency to form a task force on problem gambling.

The panel, led by Jeff Marotta, a Portland consultant who works with states to develop problem-gambling programs, took its mission seriously. It issued a 25-page report full of recommendations aimed at making problem gambling a higher priority within the lottery.

Among the recommendations: Add a problem-gambling expert to the lottery’s staff and include responsible gambling training for alcohol servers. Tomei introduced bills to do both, plus one to replace the lottery’s “maximize revenues” mission with a revenue ceiling to ease pressure to grow.  “The public is not aware what a big problem this is,” Tomei says. “Most legislators are not aware on  what a big problem it is.” She set about educating them. With Kotek getting attention for her anti-casino bill, Tomei thought the Legislature might finally take action. Then two things happened that sent lottery bills into a tailspin.

Lottery Director Larry Niswender asked the state Justice Department to rule on whether Tomei’s bills overstepped the Legislature’s authority, given that voters had enshrined the agency in the state constitution. The ruling – yes — was a victory for Niswender and a setback for problem-gambling advocates. The Justice Department wrote that the lottery could not spend money from its budget to “mitigate harms” caused by its games. Niswender interpreted the decision to mean it could no longer run problem-gambling outreach ads.

The lottery not only pulled the ads, it dropped its membership in the state’s main problem-gambling council. Problem-gambling advocates felt all their work had backfired. Tomei was furious. That wasn’t all. Legislative budget writers told Tomei no way were they going to threaten any part of the $1 billion the lottery funnels into the state’s general fund every two years.

Tomei hit a brick wall.

“We are so damned dependent on the income,” she says. “People are terrified — if we lose that income, how are we going to replace it?”

.
imageedit_1_7801205359

.

The only lottery-related bill Tomei managed to get through is one that sets a floor for how much the state spends on problem-gambling treatment. Kotek’s bills died in committee. Kotek, through her spokesman Jared Mason-Gere, declined to comment for this story. “She is focused on other issues,” Mason-Gere said.

Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, one of the two co-chairmen of the budget committee, says there was little interest in passing laws that would blow a hole in state finances, regardless of the source. “You cannot help but be appalled by the impact that the addiction of gambling can cause,” Buckley says. But without the money the lottery brings in, he says, the state would have to cut more out of schools and other programs. “You have to look at what is the overall good for the state as a whole,” Buckley says. “Problem gambling is definitely a negative. But underfunding of education is also a negative. How do you find the balance?”

Defending the status quo

Lottery critics say that’s the wrong question. What state officials should be asking themselves, they say, is whether government should be pushing a money-raising method that depends so heavily on a small segment of gamblers, many of them addicted. Niswender told The Oregonian his agency cares about people who lose more than they can afford on video slots and poker. But he has a bottom line, which goes like this:

“The Legislature authorized the lottery to have video,” says Niswender, who is retiring from his job at month’s end. “That was a policy choice. We’re here to carry out the will of the people and the Legislature’s directive and do it in the most efficient and effective way we can.” Kitzhaber, like Kulongoski, softened his opposition to slot machines as a source of state revenue. He may not like it, he says, but he’s in no position to reverse history.

“I never supported the notion of funding state programs through gambling,” Kitzhaber told The Oregonian. “But we voted for the lottery. It’s with us. … As much as I dislike the whole notion, I’m not going to put at risk a billion dollars in our education budget.”

In reality, the lottery provides about $600 million every two years to education, including K-12, schools, the education stability fund, community colleges and universities. Of that, about $480 million comes from video slots and poker. Parsing the numbers further, the lottery’s contribution to the state K-12 school fund over the current two-year budget cycle is projected to be about $327 million out of a $6.55 billion budget, or about 5 percent.

That’s not small change, by any means. Lawmakers often wrangle bitterly over smaller amounts, such as a cigarette tax increase that will raise $10 million in 2013-15. But they’ve also made bigger cuts, such as $800 million to the Public Employees Retirement System over the next two years. “Nonetheless, the lottery’s revenue stream appears all but untouchable.”

Kitzhaber says he wants to put the brakes on any further expansion of the lottery. His picks for Lottery Commission chair – Portland attorney Elisa Dozono – and lottery executive director – former state Labor Commissioner Jack Roberts — share his goals. Still, the governor says he approves of the lottery’s “modernization” plan to replace its 12,000 video slot machines with new ones but “not increasing gaming opportunities.”

Tomei wants another run at putting a ceiling on lottery revenue and ordering the agency to curtail the number of slot and poker machines it offers. The Legislature also could require the lottery to ensure that machines come with technology that might curb compulsive behavior, such as screen pop-ups that tally how much players have lost or how long they’ve played, she says.

“We’ll probably never get rid of the lottery,” Tomei says. “It seems to me we have a direct responsibility to make sure it is less addictive.”

– Harry Esteve, Journalist Portland, OR

 

The Oregonian’s Continuing series about the Oregon Lottery and how it Disproportionately Leans on Problem Gamblers to keep its Revenues Flowing.

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends,

Here is another article of this series I will be sharing this week and weekend to prove that for-profit gambling profits ARE being made on the backs of problem gamblers and those addicted. Common sense is they don’t make profits off the just “once in awhile” players . .  .  . “Players Beware”

 

Oregon Lottery: Agency pushes slot machines as problem gamblers pay the price
(Courtesy of TheOregoniann Newspaper)

.

ad8847150c3dee3f
.  ( Courtesy: Harry Esteve | hesteve@oregonian.com )

In 2011, a team of Texas consultants hired by the Oregon Lottery visited dozens of Portland-area bars, restaurants and “delis” with video slot and poker machines to ask hundreds of patrons about their gambling habits.

What they found is the exact opposite of the fun-loving image the lottery has cultivated for years.

The biggest chunk of players, according to documents obtained by The Oregonian, park in front of a machine and gamble alone until all their money is gone.

“Video lottery is currently a solitary exercise,” Mozak Advertising & Insights concluded in bold green type, adding that “running out of money” is the primary reason for ending a gambling session.

It’s a classic description of problem gambling. 

And it fits with other records analyzed by The Oregonian showing that most of the lottery’s revenue comes from just a sliver of players who lose thousands of dollars a year. Some wind up bankrupt, divorced, unemployed or suicidal.

Yet lottery officials expressed no alarm. Instead, they’ve embarked on one of the agency’s most aggressive marketing efforts yet to increase play on the machines, considered by problem gambling experts to be among the most addictive forms of gambling on the planet.

Together, the findings and marketing plan paint a disturbing picture of a state agency knowingly — and increasingly — siphoning money away from a relatively small group of problem gamblers to pay for schools, parks, business development and other programs.

“It puts the government in the business of vice,” says Roger Humble, an addiction counselor who has treated more than 1,300 problem gamblers at the Bridgeway clinic in Salem. “We play them as suckers to help us pay our taxes.”

“Bled slowly”

The Oregon Lottery’s marketing plan declares that 2014 “will be a milestone year for Video Lottery,” with efforts to attract younger players and install new machines across the state.

It’s no wonder lottery officials are targeting video machines. The numbers tell the story:

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the lottery netted $856 million from all its games: Powerball, Megabucks, scratch tickets, Keno and video machines. A whopping $737 million -– 86 percent — came from video players.

.

13810484-mmmain
.

Lottery officials, along with state policymakers, have long known that addicted gamblers do more than their share to prop up state lottery revenues. What’s new is the state’s fervor in feeding their addiction.

The five-member state Lottery Commission last year approved spending $250 million over the next five years to replace the agency’s 12,000-plus video machines with state-of-the-art models. The first 3,000 machines are on order and could be in taverns, restaurants, strip clubs, bowling alleys and gambling-oriented “delis” in Portland and along the Interstate 5 corridor by late spring.

Created with help from math experts and neuroscientists, the machines are part of a new generation of electronic slots meant to attract younger customers used to playing arcade-style video games. They feature detailed color graphics and exotic names such as Golden Goddess and Shadow of the Panther.

But they’re all designed with one goal, says Natasha Dow Schüll, an anthropologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of “Addiction by Design,” a book about the link between video slots and compulsive gambling.

“They’re catering to the ones who want to zone out or escape,” Schüll says. “These machines are geared to provide that kind of experience.” The idea, Schüll says, is to lull players into a sense that they’re winning even as they slowly lose by returning 60 to 90 percent of the money they drop into the machines. “You don’t really notice that your money is going away,” she says. “As one industry designer told me, some gamblers like to be bled slowly.” 

In the Oregon Lottery’s case, gamblers fed a jaw-dropping $9.9 billion into the machines in fiscal 2013, according to lottery financial statements. They walked away with about $9.2 billion, a return rate of 93 percent. But that 7 percent loss represents a $1 billion boost to the state budget every two years — money that few are willing to walk away from, regardless of who pays it.

Problem gamblers pay a steep price and so does society, counselors say.

Addicts steal from their employers, from stores and from family members to get money to play, says Humble, the Bridgeway counselor. They wind up in trouble with the law or ostracized from their families. Often, they contract health problems, such as hypertension, that land them in the hospital.

“It’s incredible how going like this,” Humble says, mimicking the motion of pushing a slot machine button, “can create a monster.”


Slots push aside poker:

.

d5936210701ff611
.

Oregon Lottery leaders plan to increase profits from video games by $10 million, or 3 percent, in fiscal 2014. The focus clearly is on electronic slot games — “line games” that mimic slots. The games are shoving aside video poker as the game of choice.

The Mozak study shows 55 percent of players prefer line games, compared with 28 percent who prefer video poker. The remaining players divide their gambling time evenly.

The agency’s marketing plan calls for on-site advertising to bring in new players, lottery-sponsored events to teach newcomers how to play slot machines, and research into potential “mobile gaming” — think iPads in bars — as an extension to playing video slots.

The agency’s enthusiasm for the games worries mental health and addiction experts. Jeff Marotta, a nationally recognized consultant on problem gambling who lives in Portland, read the Mozak report and came away shaking his head.

“The most disturbing aspect of this study is that it is clearly focused on assisting the Oregon State Lottery to strategize ways to increase player volume,” Marotta said in an email. “I don’t believe a state agency should be aggressively pushing the public to participate in an activity that has well-documented risks associated with its addictive potential.” Marotta, who has consulted with the Oregon Lottery on problem gambling, said the recent voter rejection of a private casino in Gresham shows the public doesn’t want an expansion of gambling in the state.

“So why,” he asks, “has the lottery recently invested in research and advertising to promote a form of gambling that addicts more Oregonians than any other form of gambling?”

Les Bernal, an outspoken critic of state-run lotteries, puts it more bluntly.

“That’s a government program that’s consciously exploiting the addiction of its own citizens,” says Bernal, who heads the Washington, D.C.-based group Stop Predatory Gambling. “How many people are injured every year by the Oregon Lottery’s machines? Instead of stopping, they’re saying, ‘You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to bring in new machines.’ How incredible is that?”

Director denies findings:

The Oregon Lottery spends heavily to research nearly every aspect of its player base. Contracts with Mozak, the Texas firm that conducted the interviews of video players in bars, came to $275,000 alone.

As part of its research, Mozak also brought 130 gamblers into a room in Portland filled with video machines and closely studied their habits and preferences. Lottery officials rejected The Oregonian’s request to look at results from the study, citing a “trade secrets” exemption from state public records law.

Despite all the data, the lottery’s director either doesn’t understand or won’t acknowledge the extent to which the agency relies on problem gamblers for revenue.

In a lengthy interview with The Oregonian, lottery Director Larry Niswender defended the lottery’s practices and denied that the agency targets problem gamblers. He also disputed data showing that an outsize share of lottery revenue comes from a small group of players. He offered no explanation for Mosak’s finding that lone players gamble until they empty their wallets or purses.

“We’re operating under a framework set in the constitution, approved by voters,” said Niswender, who announced he is retiring from the lottery at the end of the month. Former state Labor Commissioner Jack Roberts takes over as director Dec. 1.

Voters overwhelmingly approved creating the lottery in 1984, Niswender said, and surveys show strong support today. And the whole point is to raise as much money as possible to substitute for tax increases, he said.

Niswender also pointed to a new responsible-gambling plan developed by lottery staff that will be implemented next year. The plan calls for the lottery to establish a “responsible gaming code of practice” but largely continues practices in place, such as clocks on game screens and prominent display of the 877-MYLIMIT help number for problem gamblers.

**To be fair here is the info from the “My Limit” website**

The Oregon Problem Gambling Helpline has been in operation since 2001 and is currently taking approximately 5,000 calls a year. Trained professional staff members are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen, educate, answer questions, and refer people to free confidential treatment services.

If you (or someone you know) are gambling too much, you can call the Oregon Problem Gambling Helpline and speak to a certified gambling counselor. All information shared is confidential and this service is FREE to Oregon residents.

Call the Helpline 1-877-695-4648 (My Limit) and speak with someone who can get you to the help you may need. Or text 503-713-6000.

All calls are free.
All calls are confidential.
Call anytime, 24 hours a day.

You are not alone. There is help, there is hope, and there is a way to get your life back on track.


***   ***    ***

The lottery’s goal, Niswender said, “is to attract new players so we don’t have a few that play a lot, we have a lot playing a little.” He questioned lottery data showing the opposite.

“I have a hard time believing there’s a very small number of people generating what is probably between $12 million to $14 million a week in revenue,” Niswender said. “It’s got to be a broad diverse player base.”

But later, his research staff confirmed through lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann that the lottery’s video revenue does come from a small segment of players.

As far as the finding that most play alone, Niswender referred to surveys in which video players reported playing mainly for fun. “It’s to hang out with friends,” he said.

“Anything but a social thing”

A visit to just about anyplace with lottery video games offers a different view.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon at top grossing lottery outlets, people sat at the machines, quietly feeding in $5 and $20 bills.

At Ace Tavern on Northeast Sandy Boulevard, patron Amanda Elliot watched while two women who declined to give their names played slot machines in silence.

“Your focus is on the screen,” said Elliot, who rarely plays. “It’s anything but a social thing.”

Habitual players say they may go to casinos with friends, but they play Oregon Lottery alone.

“I have no interest in interacting with other people while I’m gambling,” says Kitty Martz of Northwest Portland, who recently completed a gambling treatment program. “I can’t stand to have someone even comment, ‘Looks like you’ve got a win there.’” She says she would wear a “gambling suit” that included ear buds to block outside noise and a scarf to hide her face.

Martz, 44, is a world traveler who once had a thriving home-remodeling business. Once she fell into the grip of video poker and slots, she started blowing through her and her now ex-husband’s life savings.

“A lot of people think it’s a tax on the stupid,” Martz says. “Really, we’re behaving exactly the way the machines want us to.”

A devil’s bargain

The lottery has always been something of a devil’s bargain, suggests Peter Bragdon, who helped lead a 1995 task force on state-run gambling. The task force, established by Gov. John Kitzhaber, issued a widely publicized report warning that the state was becoming overly dependent on money that came at least in part from gambling addicts.
.


.

Years later, Bragdon was serving as chief of staff to then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who also served on the task force and helped write the report. The state was in the middle of a budget crisis, and “pressure was intense” to increase lottery profits, Bragdon said.

At the time, the state had video poker but not slots because of their addictive allure. First, the state loosened rules to allow six video poker machines per establishment instead of five. Then the governor decided to allow slot machines.

“It’s not pressure from gambling interests, it’s pressure from people who want to spend the money,” Bragdon says. “You’ve got the reality of getting people to play these games, but you’re also looking at a budget where you’ve got really vulnerable people losing medicine, losing shelter, school doors closing early.

“And you’ve got to make a choice.”

— Harry Esteve, The Oregonian

<    <   <   <  >

**Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & ‘In Recovery Magazine’ Columnist**

 

 

 

The Oregonian Puts A Spotlight on Addicted and Problem Gambling With The Oregon Lottery: “Selling Addiction.”

The Oregonian Puts A Spotlight on Addicted and Problem Gambling With The Oregon Lottery: “Selling Addiction.”

“While researching data and facts last week for my week-long blogging for “The National Week Of Action Against Predatory Gambling” along with Les Bernal, my hardworking friend over at
Stop Predatory Gambling, I happen to come across a series that is written by  Senior Political reporter Harry Esteve on the Oregon Lottery and it’s called:   “Selling Addiction” series ….  
It is a very interesting series about how “The Oregon Lottery Offerings” have affected many Oregonians and their families.”


See, I lived in Southern Oregon for over 26 years before moving to Arizona in late 2013 and I to had  become addicted to the Oregon ‘Lotteries Video Poker/Slot Machines’ that were introduced back in 1991 and Keno way before that. If you have read my book “Addicted To Dimes,” then you know how that all turned out for me, NOT GOOD. Yes, I did also gamble at an Indian Casino 40 miles North of my home, but it was the slot machines by the Oregon Lottery that fueled my gambling addiction most times because of access.  They are everywhere!!

I could walk across the street to the bar and gamble, walk up a block and there were 3 more lottery retailers with machines I could gamble on. And so on. I was gambling 2 to 4 times a day at my worst of my addiction. In turn, I attempted suicide twice and blessed I failed. But many others were not AS fortunate. as I. This series will share much of that as well  .  .  .  .

.

Harry Esteve | hesteve@oregonian.com
By Harry Esteve | hesteve@oregonian.com
on December 06, 2013 at 8:07 AM.

Oregon Lottery: Readers continue sharing stories of bankruptcy, shame, despair…

The Oregonian invited readers to share Oregon Lottery experiences in a questionnaire. We published dozens of their stories as part of our “Selling Addiction” series, and that led to even more submissions. Here are some of the latest to come in. Because of the personal nature of comments, many asked that their names be withheld all or in part.

Portland,OR woman, 52

Have you ever won a big prize?

I won $1,500 on Big 5 when it first came out. I think that was the beginning of my slide into problem gambling.

When you play, do you sometimes feel you have a problem stopping even though you know you should?

Yes, my mother gave me some money and instead of going to my bank I spent it gambling. It made me feel bad, remorseful, stupid — all the names one could call themselves.

Has your life been affected by gambling?

Yes, it has impacted relationships and my ability to save for retirement. It has caused me to come close to lying which is something I never do and to spend money I should not be spending. It is sneaky and insidious when you get the gambling bug. I’m an educated women and I feel like I should know better but when I start it is hard to stop. I do not like the person I have become since I have become addicted and I struggle every day with fighting the urge. I worry about my future.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

The Oregon Lottery management has no vested interest in helping gamblers and is only interested in hitting targets, etc., and how to hook more gamblers. I feel like they do everything in their power with ads, putting signs outside buildings that I have to see everywhere I drive which tempt people like me, to hook and retain problem gamblers. The lottery should have an overseeing agency to put them into check.

For example, the lottery should not be allowed to advertise on buses/TV/papers nor put its signage outside business establishments. They have an obligation to help the very people they purposefully attracted. Ten percent of their revenues should be dedicated to problem addicts and making help/programs more accessible in better parts of town. But they don’t want to treat the problem gamblers because if they do, they will lose the very people they depend upon. Oregon should have never gone down this slippery slope.

Beaverton, OR man, 33

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

$100 to $400.

What do you enjoy about playing lottery games?

They are fun to play, and they are very addictive. The thrill of possibly winning big is what keeps me playing.

Have you ever won a big prize?

I have won $800 and $600 and won a couple of times of $400-500. I hit the max credit and won twice, and that is a wonderful feeling. Losing that much is the exact opposite.

Have you ever lost more than you could afford?

I have always paid my bills on time, but I have lost a lot of money to the point where I could have paid off my bills rather than just making the monthly payment to stay current. I have used cash advances on some credit cards but have then paid them off only to do the same thing over and over again.

When you play, do you sometimes feel you have a problem stopping even though you know you should?

For sure! I can sit at a machine for hours drinking and playing, going back and forth from the machine to the ATM and back. I think that I’ll just pop into the bar on the way home from work as the wife won’t be home for another hour or so and play 40 bucks. Three hours later and a couple of lies, and you head back home down $300. You go in there thinking, “I can win $300” only to lose the very $300 you were trying to win and MORE!

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

Never have sought help. Currently trying to coach myself to quit, but it is very hard, knowing I can be at a machine within 10 to 15 minutes, sometimes less, from just about anywhere in this state. I think typing this out is a big step for me: To admit to myself that I do have a problem but with the hope to correct the problem.

Has your life been affected by problem gambling?

For sure. The amount of money I have wasted playing these highly addictive and expensive video games would total over $15,000 over the past 12 years, with the most damage coming in the past five years. Could have paid off several bills sooner than I did. Could have all that money saved for a down payment on a home or in an IRA. Have lied to others about where I have been and what I was doing. Wake up the next morning with the worst feeling I have ever had. A feeling of remorse and regret and shame. Feelings that humans should not have to feel from a “game” or “entertainment.”

Do you think the benefits from Oregon Lottery revenues — to schools, parks and such — outweigh the harm caused by problem gambling?

I get that the “State” benefits from a small population of the state, but I believe that there are other ways to get money for schools and parks and feel that this is a problem that the majority of people don’t ever speak about so the numbers are probably higher than reported. My short answer is NO.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I believe that for myself and my family that if these machines weren’t in the bars and delis, then I would not be gambling. It’s that simple for me. That may sound like an excuse but “out of sight is out of mind.” Spirit Mountain and Chinook Winds are quite a drive. It’s certainly not right around the corner but you know what is?? About 15 to 25 bars on my way home from work.

.
photo
.

Mike Burton, 72, Vancouver, OR

I served in the Oregon House of Representatives 1985-1995. I made several attempts to curb the lottery in 1985 and then video lottery in 1991.

My objection to video poker is three-fold:

1. The easy access just makes it easier for problem players to lose.

2. The losers, as your article’s point out, are those who can least afford to lose. We knew this in 1991; no one listened. Then-Senate President Kitzhaber (after I had the expansion bill stopped in the House) came down from his podium and made an impassioned plea to pass the bill, saying there were no problems.

3. Worse, it creates a false economy. That is, there is very little created in the way of “new” money or jobs, it simply shifts the money around and the state becomes the addict here, depending on its revenues to fill the budget and always being hungry for more. This avoids the real debate about fees and taxes because lottery winnings are a “tax” on someone else — a stupid tax.


Vancouver man, 65

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

$200-$2,000

Have you ever won a big prize?

Oh, yeah, that’s part of compulsive gambling, winning the big one and giving it all back and then some.

Have you ever lost more than you could afford?

I have enough money and can afford to lose big, but it isn’t about the money. It becomes a living lie of deceit, deception and not facing up to one’s problem.

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

I have. I regularly attend GA meetings and work the 12 steps “day by day.” It has helped, at least yesterday and hopefully today!

Has your life been affected by problem gambling?

Yes, the self-deception and lying to oneself about the problem have been tough to overcome. I’m a college-educated, smart guy. I have a great job and earn $150,000 per year. The people who work for me and with me respect me. I am well-known in my community for my work with youth baseball. Yet, when it came to gambling, I didn’t have the sense of a goat. I couldn’t stop until I’d maxed my daily withdrawal on my cash advances. The only way I’m beating this is “day-to-day.”

Do you think the benefits from Oregon Lottery revenues — to schools, parks and such — outweigh the harm caused by problem gambling?

No, the state should realize the lottery is nothing more than a regressive tax. The majority of those who lose can’t afford to lose. I see it at my GA meetings week in and week out. “I got paid from my job waiting tables and lost it all. … How am I going to pay my bills?” It’s ugly, real ugly. But, as I am a compulsive gambler, the state, too, is hooked on it. The fact that more up-to-date slots are coming speaks volumes. The state will continue to bleed those addicts dry and will create another generation of them.

Gail, 66, Tigard, OR

How long have you played Lottery games in Oregon?

I seldom play; it’s my 85-year-old mother who has a gambling addiction.

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

She’s lost, as far as we can calculate, around a quarter of a million dollars in the last 10 to 15 years.

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

She did seek counseling a few years ago. Until they said they were being “shut down” due to lack of funds. It didn’t do any good, anyway. She lied to us and to the counselors.

Do you know other people who have a problem with gambling?

I just know that my mother’s problem is really sick and sad and disgusting. And it’s really caused a major problem in our family. I should mention, her gambling has gotten much worse since the death of my dad eight years ago.

Beaverton woman, 41

How long have you played Lottery games in Oregon?

I have played scratch-off tickets since I was about 10 years old. My parents would buy them for me and cash them in if we won anything. I began playing Keno when I was a teenager in restaurants with my parents. I began playing video lottery machines when I was 25, and I have had a gambling problem since I was 26.

.
Image result for free images of Oregon Lottery Scratch off
.


Where do you typically play?

I will play anywhere that has a video poker machine if I am by myself. Nobody talks to each other. There are people who will use the ATM repeatedly and hit the buttons on the machines in frustration when they are losing their money. I will often find a bar or restaurant downtown near my workplace and play on my lunch breaks. It was always the same people playing when I arrived, who appeared to be workers downtown also.

How much money do you spend on a typical outing to play video poker or line games?

I have lost an entire paycheck the day I was paid within a matter of 90 minutes. If I begin gambling, I will spend as much cash as I have on me. As soon as I’m started, I am completely out of control.

What do you enjoy about playing lottery games?

Nothing anymore. It is fun to win until you play because you have to win. I gamble infrequently compared to as much as I did six months ago. Six months ago, I was playing before work because Maddy’s opened at 7 a.m., playing on lunch breaks at bars downtown and playing on my way home.

Have you ever won a big prize?

I won two $2,500 jackpot prizes in two days. I have won a third $2,500 jackpot and another $1,500 jackpot. There are countless times I would win $500 over an initial investment of $60 or less. It was a rush to see them count out all of those $20 bills on the bar and being unable to close my wallet. It was a rush to live recklessly with financial abandon with my winnings for a day or two after winning.

Have you ever lost more than you could afford?

I have a discharged Chapter 7 bankruptcy from multiple payday loans, maxed out credit cards and overdraft checking account fees. I’ve been sued multiple times for failing to repay obligations. The rest of my family is very financially responsible. I haven’t told anyone that I’ve been bankrupted. I feel like a liar and a cheat like I would be a complete embarrassment to my parents, and despite a college education and a very good job, I feel like I am the biggest idiot to ever come out of my gene pool.

When you play, do you sometimes feel you have a problem stopping even though you know you should?

I closed my bank account and cut up my ATM card. If I had access to any more cash, I would spend it. If I ran out of all resources, I would use a hot check and get a payday loan to cover basic expenses, sometimes to gamble more. At one time, I was juggling five payday loans at once, using one to pay off another, re-borrowing to pay off another — it was a vicious cycle.

Have you ever sought help for gambling addiction?

1-877-MYLIMIT (The Oregon Lottery Help Line) – is honestly a complete joke. Many of the programs they referred me to serve criminal clientele as well, so you feel like even more of a lowlife for having a problem. Most of the programs they referred me to in the Portland area did not return my calls seeking treatment. I sought the help of a psychiatrist, who put me on the prescription drug Naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist, hoping to change the reward structure in my brain so that I could somehow find gambling less exciting. I completed an intensive outpatient mental health program through ‘Kaiser Permanente’ four months ago after completing a bankruptcy and suffering from suicidal ideation.

Has your life been affected by problem gambling?

My life has been affected in every way by problem gambling. I tell half-truths or even bald-faced lies to my friends and family about my whereabouts or my finances. I’m nearly 30; I do not live on my own because I haven’t been able to afford to, I’m bankrupt, and I have difficulty meeting my basic needs. I feel like I have to start my adulthood completely over again and learn better financial habits due to the wreck that the Oregon Lottery has helped me to make out of my life.

Do you think the benefits from Oregon Lottery revenues — to schools, parks and such — outweigh the harm caused by problem gambling?

No. I think the Oregon Lottery should be shut down as soon as possible. There is nothing good that can come out of it. The devastation it causes people should not be used for revenue by the government. The justification — providing schoolchildren with materials they need or providing medicine to the poor and ill — should not be any type of excuse for this type of pain and devastation. Oregon is in the business of ruining lives.

<    <    <    <     >

“I feel like a liar and a cheat” Now this statement from this person interviewed for this article is exactly the way I FELT when I gambled addictively. And is why I added it to the Title of MY Book/Memoir. I did FEEL like a Liar and a Cheat!  That is what Compulsive Gambling Addiction turned me into, a liar and a cheat.

It was my way of taking accountability and ownership of all my “Character Defect and to those, I had HURT  within my addiction.” So that statement she made was powerful to me when I read it. I will be sharing much of this series all week & weekend long . . . .

.

Author & Recovery Columnist,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon


Product Details

( Ebook now on sale for 3.10! )
.
“How does a Good Girl Go Bad? Based on the author’s true life story and experiences told in the author’s own words, without polish or prose, a haunting tale of gambling addiction, dark family secrets, living with undiagnosed PTSD, and much more. She has overcome, she has triumphed in recovery one day at a time. So read this woman’s remarkable brave story!”