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 )

…..

W5JSWKULEQI6TA6IZZZ5GUGJF4

……

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?

……
26151960-gambling-addiction-concepts-word-cloud-illustration-word-collage-concept

…….
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.”

…..

##################

…..

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

 

 

 

Advertisement

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…

______________________________________________

.

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.

Wynn-Casino-Slots

 

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.

images

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.
____________________________________________

“Presented by Gambling Recovery Starts Here!  ~  Catherine Townsend-Lyon”