Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Study Ties Risk of Problem Gambling with Proximity to Casinos

No big surpirse to me here, but this article highlights a recently published study that shows a marked increase in problem gamblers, the closer people live to a casino. The study also showed an increased prevelance to those in poorer neighborhoods also. The researchers did point out that geography is NOT as much of a factor as other indicators, but if a person is pre-dipsosed to have problems they will be increased if the person is close to gambling.

I think that is likely what happened in my case. I had never gambled much at all, and definetely did not have a problem, UNTIL the Indian casinos moved to town. That gave me access I didn't have before and I took advantage. Remember, I do not blame the casinos for my addiction, but we do need to realize that there will be social consequences to our legalized gambling expansion and those need to be addressed.

John

Problem Gambling In Utah?

Utah newspaper, the "Deseret News" has been running a special series on the effects of gambling in Utah, where "officially" there is no legalized gambling but where the bordering states each offer plenty of gambling to those willing to make the 2 hour drive, of which there are many.

Todays article is completely focused on the problem gambling problem and how it may impact Utah.

Read more here:

Gambling Spurs Social, Legal Woes


I have always found the paradox interesting as there is a VERY large Mormon population in Las Vegas in addition to Utah, yet somehow the two cultures seem able to co-exist.

John

Monday, June 27, 2005

Canadian Memorial Service Remembering Compulsive Gambler Suicides Held

HALIFAX – As Phyllis Vineberg stood and began to shuffle between the pews in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Brunswick Street, she couldn’t go on. Hunched over, she broke silently into tears.

Vineberg was one of about 75 people attending a vigil for families and friends of people who had committed suicide because of an addiction to VLTs.

more...

This article appeared in the Halifax Daily News. The article goes onto to describe the social costs of legalized gambling and in particular the addictive Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs).

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Day 952 - Still Making Difficult Choices

Hello All,

First I would like to take a quick moment and thank all the nice e-mails and comments from you regarding my post of a couple of days ago regarding my lack of "personal journaling" here of late. It does have an impact. Thanks.

So, I am one the oldest of six brothers in my family. This weekend one of them got married. The wedding took place in Boston, MA and of course I live in San Diego, CA. Attending would realistically mean taking almost a week off from work, and the cost of a plane ticket, hotel, and food for a few days. Probably about a thousand dollars.

Thankfully, I actually have this kind of money in the bank now. Since I placed my last bet 2 1/2 years ago things of course get better all the time financially. I mean when I am not spending my very last dollar at the blackjack table thinking I was "going to come back" and then "leave when I got back up", money problems are lessened. I also somehow actually have a few thousands dollars worth of credit cards available to me again with ZERO balances on them. I live pretty much cash in hand type of life these days. I still am amazed that I can go from homeless shelter to having credit again in the time it took...about a year before I got my first one, and then 6 months later another even bigger one.

BUT, the cash in the bank is there for emergencies, and I already owe enough money so I try not to use my cards except for gas etc. and then I pay them every month. Also, even though money problems are lessened now, I still owe A LOT of money to people.

Hence my dilemma about my brother's wedding. This would have been the first time in approximately 10 years that all six boys would have been in the same place at the same time, something VERY important to my mother. Also, one of the things about not gambling anymore is that I am INVITED to these family functions again. For a long time they could have cared less where I was. After all, they were tired of the lying and stealing I was doing back then.

So, in the end I had to weigh several factors. In the mix was that when I don't work I don't get commissions. I make most of my money off those commissions, so the cost of the trip itself would have then had lost wages on top of it. Also, I am committed to spending about $400.00 this fall for my attendance at the National Gamblers Anonymous Conference in October (details on the right by the way!). I justify this by the realization that if I don't make my recovery priority number one, NONE of the other stuff matters because at some point I will go back to gambling. That is what a compulsive gambler does when one gets complacent. So, the money is a good investment, even for those I still owe. It makes it more likely they will see there money at some point.

In the end I decided I could not afford to go to the wedding. I did send a gift, and I spoke to my brother and bride on the phone. Not ideal, but I think the family understands.

I hope so at least.

John

Louisian Program Treats Gambling Addiction

Reprinted from "The Advocate" 6/25/05.

NEW ORLEANS -- A fledgling state program that offers treatment rather than jail to some gambling addicts who commit certain nonviolent crimes is helping to put Louisiana at the "forefront" of efforts to deal with problem gambling, Attorney General Charles Foti said Friday.

"They can keep their families together. They can deal with their addiction," Foti, touting two of the benefits of the new "Gambling Treatment Referral Program," said at the 19th annual Conference on Prevention, Research and Treatment of Problem Gambling.

"We're attempting to reach the root of the problem," he said.

The referral program is a joint effort of Foti's office, the state Department of Health and Hospitals' Office for Addictive Disorders, the Louisiana Association on Compulsive Gambling and local district attorneys.

It is designed to help first or second offenders who have committed nonviolent crimes that are directly related to compulsive gambling receive treatment instead of prison time. The crimes can include theft, forgery, issuing worthless checks, credit-card fraud, insurance fraud and failure to pay child support. Addicts sometimes resort to those crimes to fuel their gambling habits.

I have always thought that the issue of criminal activity related to compulsive gambling is behind the times when compared to drugs or alcohol in our society. I am glad to see this starting to change. I hope the program is successful and other states begin to follow suit.

John

Friday, June 24, 2005

Nice Article Featuring My Friend Carol O.

The Las Vegas Business Press did a nice article about the recently approved state funding to expand compulsive gambler treatment in Nevada. The article even has a picture and several quotes from my good friend Carol O'hare, Executive Director of the Nevada Council On Problem Gambling.

Some may remember that Carol is the woman who was thre for me that first morning that I finally began my abstinence and eventual recovery. (See "Remembering Day One" on the right.)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Day 949 - Where Have I Been?

Evening all,

Well, some of you that return here daily may be wondering where I have been? NO, I was not gambling and I am grateful for that! I continue to work other areas of my recovery to ensure I am always aware that I am a compulsive gambler and to place that first bet would almost assuredly lead to disaster for me.

But, I have not been applying myself to the continuous updates to the blog here as I used to. No real special reason...just busy with other life and sort of in a "nothing much to say" phase.

As the compulsive/impulsive person I am though, as I thought about the fact that I have not been journaling here every single day as I was, and some days not adding anything to the site at all, my first reaction was of course....TO QUIT! To shut it down.... The easy way out still lives inside me in many ways even though I am not gambling anymore.

Thankfully however, I have learned to wait beyond my initial reaction in most situations and this one was no different. After some thought, I realized it was really the journaling that is the most difficult for me to add each and every day since there are really a lot of days I don't have much to say? But, adding the news articles and the saying of the day etc. is not very difficult.

Also, I continue to be amazed at the number of new people that get to this site. Most are searching on "gamblers anonymous" or "gambling addiction" etc. Once they get here MANY of the visitors read through 10-15 pages including the "My Story" section and others. The average time a new visitor spends on my blog is over 15 minutes....that's amazing! Of course all of you who visit often spend considerably less since I believe you are just getting updated with news etc...

So, for now at least I will make a better effort to at least post news every day. I cannot guarantee any personal commentary every day, but I am sure I will write something a few times a week. After all, that part of the blog is really for my own benefit rather than anyone else's. I am not even sure that part ever gets read....

Enough for tonight.

John

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

PBS Show Explores Teenage Compulsive Gambling

"DUSTIN WAGGONER: I had $1,000 in my son's bank. And I took that out and spent it. I don't know why I did it. As I was drawing the money out of the bank, I felt like a bullet was going through me, but I wasn't smart enough to put it back. I remember I lost that $1,000. I remember leaving the casino at about 2:00 in the morning. I was just bawling my eyes out. And I usually don't cry, but I mean, I cried and cried."

The paragraph above is an excerpt from a TV story done on PBS in Washington State recently. The transcribed version of the story can be viewed online here.

It is a well done story focusing more on the actual risks teenagers face with the current poker craze including statistics and interviews.

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"Face Everything And Relapse"

or

"Face Everything And Recover"

FEAR is our constant enemy as we travel through each day trying to stay away from that first bet. Fear that some of the things we did will be found out. Fear that our lives will be unliveable if we don't fix the financial damage we did quickly enough to satisfy our creditors. Fear that if we tell our problems to others they will never understand or show any compassion, so why bother? Fear, Fear, Fear... We MUST overcome each fear as they present themselves.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Aussie Play Portraying Compulsive Gambler Opens

After receiving some funding from a fund earmarked for problem gambling education, an Australian play entitled Ruby's Last Dollar opens at the Opera House theatre open June 22nd, 2005 according to this article.

The play described in greater detail in the article highlights the plight of a cabaret dancer that falls prey to the lure of slot machines, but also has undertones describing how prevelant gambling has become in the land down under, and how the playwright feels much of the senior population has been neglected as a result.

Interesting way to spend compulsive gambler treatment funds, but I think it is great!

John

GA - Even In Ottumwa Iowa!

Nice little article in the Ottumwa Courier describing a gathering of the recently started Gamblers Anonymous group there. Nothing special, just people sharing their experience, strength, and hope with each other. Here is the entire Article complete with the "Another Chance" poem:

Finding A Way Back


Who knows maybe I ll stop by the meeting one day and see Walter O'Reilly (RADAR) from teh M.A.S.H. show!

Crime Watch - Compulsive Gambler Pleads Guilty To Robbery

From the Morning News - Compulsive Gambler Pleads Guilty .

6th Grade Gamblers - Toronto Star

Nice little editorial about the Texas Hold 'em craze ongoing in our youth from the Toronto Star newspaper. Basically saying what I have said here numerous times. That the Poker Craze MAY be just a fad, but that we just don't know yet and we must be vigilant.

Read the entire editorial here.

CA Awards Prevelance Study Contract?

I recieved a couple of articles over the weekend, including this one in the San Mateo Times announcing that the California State Gambling Prevelance Study I have spoken about here in the past. The article says the study will be conducted by the National Opinion Research Center and the University of Chicago.

Thing is, I cannot find any press releases on either the State Office of Problem Gambling site, or the NORC site? It is about the time that was scheduled for award, but I am not 100 percent sure it is the same study, although it likely is.

I ll keep you updated.

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"People may not always believe what I say, but they will always believe what I do."

I have learned that the things I did as a compulsive gambler caused everyone around me to lose trust in everything I said. Why wouldn't they? I mean all I did was lie, cheat and steal from all of them. And not just on occassion, but over and over and over again to the point I could not keep the lies straight.

So, when I told them I had finally started to get the help I needed and was going to do my best not to place a bet, they were skeptical. Today, thankfully they have seen the ACTION I have taken to do so for some time and some of that trust is begininning to return.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Not Feeling Well...

Hey there all,

Sorry about no post the last couple days....I have many to do, but have been laid up in bed with fever...it hurts my fingers to type! I am starting to come out of it and hopefully will have energy to do something tonight..

John

Friday, June 17, 2005

MN - Workshop Addressing Problem Gambling In Southeast Asian Community Planned - 6/27/05

Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota will host a Learning and Opportunities Workshop on Problem Gambling in the Southeast Asian Community. The event will be held on Monday, June 27, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Harrison Community Center, 503 Irving Avenue North in Minneapolis.

The workshop will share with mainstream practitioners and others in the Asian community the accumulating research and knowledge gained over the past 18 months in developing and implementing both prevention and treatment strategies that effectively respond to the needs of the Southeast Asian Problem Gambler.

There will be a $10.00 fee for this workshop to cover the cost of morning refreshments and lunch. This fee will be collected at registration on the morning of the workshop.

For more information call the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota at 612-374-4967 or email rick@laocenter.org, sunny@laocenter.org.

New Casinos in CA To Include Increased Programs For Problem Gamblers

Governor Arnold completed negotiations for compacts this week with two Indian tribes in the state to contruct new casinos. This is not all that newsworthy as far as this blog goes, except that it shows there is still a strong desire to expand legalized gambling in the state.

But the good news part of the story is that little by little the aspect of gambling addiction is being addressed in these compacts.

Requirements of the compacts include a provision to provide the local governmental entities with funding to mitigate local impacts of the casinos, including gambling addiction.

But the tribes this time seem to be taking a more concerted effort BEYOND what is required of them. A welcome change. The new casinos will include a an extensive problem gambling program that includes the following: signage at all public entrances, ATM's, and exits bearing a toll-free help-line for assistance for gambling problems; exclusion programs that deny access and credit for patrons who exhibit signs of problem gambling; prevention of underage individuals from loitering in any areas where there is gambling; responsible gaming messages in advertising which will make no misleading claims; and the adoption of a code of conduct derived from that of the American Gaming Association that addresses responsible gambling and responsible advertising.

Good for them.

Read the entire article here from the Bakersfieldonline website.

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"Before you say I can't, say I'll try."

Often when I get phone calls from people on the Gamblers Anonymous hotline the gambler, or the person affected by the gambler are crying. From within the tears they explain to me how bad life has gotten for them, the family, and everyone around them. This is a feeling I can completely relate to. It was not that long ago that I too was wrapped up in the chaos of the gambling lifestyle.

However, after the crying, when I try to offer them some soft suggestions based on my experience I meet with considerable resistance? When I try to suggest a meeting near them on a given day it is often "well I can't go on Thursdays" etc.... I explain to them the fact they THEY called the hotline so it is very possible they are looking for help, but still there are often the excuses. At some point there is only so much I can offer and must complete the call.

I UNDERSTAND the resistance. It took me years of pain, the loss of everything and every person around me before I finally made it to my first GA meeting. But, unless you TRY to surrender, limit the damage by not placing another bet, and then following it up by using the tools available to improve your life, it will never happen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Day 941 - Belly Button Birthday

Interesting day today. I got phone calls and e mails from all of my acquaintances OUTSIDE of Gamblers Anonymous. This is somewhat unusual as most of my daily contact these days usually revolves around work or GA.

But, today was different. Today is my Biological birthday. So, my ex called, the kids called, brothers and all wished me well. But only a few of the people I spend so much time with these days called or wrote.

Why no GA contact? Because of the anonymity of the program. Even though I spent over 20 hours a week with people I have met in GA , not counting meetings, many people still don't know my last name? Or when my birthday is? Some don't even know where my house is!

Yet, I go to movies, have dinner, play golf, and many other activities with these people just like I have known them forever. In many ways I know THESE people much better than I know any of the people who wished me well this day. This is because we share the bond of similar experience.

The bond of lying and cheating and stealing, and missing work, and SWEARING we would not lose more than $100.00 per day, and leaving money and credit cards at home only to drive several hours round trip to go back and get them and more. We share our compulsive gambler experiences! Nobody else can REALLY understand those feelings. I would not expect them to.

And yes, some of my closer friends in GA knew it was my birthday today, know my last name, and have been to my house. But I still do not consider any of the others less of a friend.

As for the birthday itself? Nothing exciting. I did a little reflecting on whether this is where I thought I would be in life at this age. The answer? NO. But, I am where I am supposed to be. I accept that now.

John

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Tsunami Warning!

So, I was just about to sit down and blog a little when my e-mails started piling in. TSUNAMI WARNING!

As I have said in the past, one of my hobbies is monitoring public safety radio. Comes from my past work life. Anyway, with that monitoring comes my participation in several online groups related to the topic. We let each other know about major events to monitor (and ONLY monitor) in different areas. Things like brush fires, pursuits, things like that.

Anyway, tonight was the possible Tsunami. As a result of a 7.0 earthquake off our CA coast there was a possibility of a tsunami being generated. Warnings were issued and blasted all over TV and radio. I live in a coastal city, but am a few miles from the coast so I was not really worried, but it was a fun hour of excitement!

I can remember when I was gambling I would actually get UPSET when a brush fire would require evacuation of the casino. See, all of the casinos here in Southern California are in fire prone areas so the evacuations were not uncommon.

It was a lot more fun sitting here listening to it all tonight than being mad because I couldn't place another bet.

Not much else to say. Have a good night all.

John

Compulsive Gambler And Author To Speak In Berkeley, CA

If you are in the San Fransisco Bay area and want to learn a little bit more about this addiction, and Gamblers Anonymous you might want to plan on seeing Bill Lee as he reads from his new book, “Born to Lose: Memoirs of a Compulsive Gambler”. The lecture will take place at 3 p.m. at Eastwind Books of Berkeley, 2066 University Ave. 548-2350.

I have heard a lot of good things about this book. If you would like a copy for yourself, just click on the "Hazelden" link below to order a copy.

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"Do the right thing today, even when nobody else is looking."

It is easy to fool ourselves into "thinking" we are being more honest because when others are around us we are not lying to them, or hurting them at that moment. But, if when everyone around me is gone, would I still make the same choice in a given situation?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Day 939 - Quiet Times

Hello all,

Haven't had much to blog about lately. Actually, I have just been trying to recover from the busy week I just finished. The BBQ Saturday was nice, and then went to the Padres game yesterday afternoon. We lost, but it was a great game.

Otherwise there really hasn't been that much going on. As I have said in the past, there are times this kind of quiet in life can drive me crazy. I was so used to having chaos in every aspect of my life when gambling that I kind of got used to it! Now, when everything isn't a crisis, and things just make smaller differences in life, good and bad, it is sometimes hard to handle.

My birthday is Wednesday. I ll be 43 years old. Sheesh...I have no idea where I thought I would be at this point in life, but I don't think it was where I am? I am not depressed or complaining mind you, I have been all through those emotions over the last couple of years and I accept where I am. Just making an observation I guess that you never really know where life will take you. I have no special plans for the birthday. Most of my family is getting ready to head back to Boston for my younger brother's wedding next week. I won't be going. No big story to that really...I guess I ll talk about that as it gets closer.

Anyway, really slow news day also on the problem gambler front. I hope everyone is doing well.

Oh, the CGHUB I talked about here in the past has been reborn as the SFCGHUB (safe harbor compulsive gamblers hub). Pretty much the same as the old, with some of the same problems and benefits. Check it out if you like at www.sfcghub.com or from the link on the right.

Have a good night.

John

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"Always remember the insanity...Be thankful for the pain...But most of all be thankful for the days that remain."

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Removing Poker Machines In Australia Aimed At Helping Problem Gambling

A plan that has been in the works in one state in Australia to reduce the number of available "pokie" machines is underway. Eventually approximately 3000 machines will be turned off across the state according to the article in today's Advertiser newspaper. Th article goes on to say that this is the first known time in the history of Australia, if not the entire world, that a concentrated effort to LOWER the number of machines has been undertaken.

The effort is aimed at trying to curb a growing compulsive gambling problem.

We will watch and see what effect this has, if any.

Recovery Saying of The Day...

"Success means getting your BUT out of the way."

How many times did I swear I would stop gambling "but" I had to get the money back I had just lost first. Or how about I would go to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting "but" I am not as bad as all of those losers. The "buts" can go on and on. Until I surrendered I never achieved more than a few days without a bet.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Ok I Couldn't Resist This

I thought I was done for a while, but when I was checking out the site I posted about in my last article I was amazed at the insight offered from this teenager. At the time of writing he was just a senior in high school. I wish I had his wisdom back then!

Gambler O GamblerBy John Miller, Class of 2003

Gambler, O Gambler, I have some advice
You may think it rude and not very nice
Unnatural deeds bring about unnatural consequences
Gambling risks your life and your expenses
People that had everything, turn up flat broke
Their beautiful lives, go up in smoke
One game they say, which turns into ten
That's how it starts, the beginning of an end
But money is really the least of the sorrow
Relationships with people, one can not borrow
One may think "This won't happen to me"
But it is not a far off reality
Gambler, O Gambler if only you'd known
Will power would've kept you from being alone
So watch out for scratch offs and the slot machine
Casinos can be dangerous, even obscene
To think you were happy and now you are not
Depression has caused your sweet life to rot
Gambler, O Gambler, I hope you have learned
What happens in life when you take a wrong turn

Wow. Take a look at the rest of this amazing group of teenagers at www.gamesawareness.org .

John

Al Roker Explores Teen Problem Gambling For Court TV

Al Roker and his staff have been doing the pre-taping around the nation lately for a television program addressing the growing teen problem gambler problem for Court TV . This article in the talks about his appearance in Monroe County, CT and his meeting with a teen gambling prevention group Gambling Awareness in Monroe through Educating our Students (GAMES) .

In all honestly I had never heard of GAMES. Cool!! I have added their link in the "other places to visit section. I had been aware of the Al Roker TV show that will air later in the year. They recently interviewed a fellow GA member and friend Paul D. for the program. Feel free to visit Paul's blog at www.compulsivegambler.blogspot.com either from here or the link on the right.

The show is not scheduled to air until the fall from my understanding.

John

Day 937 - Compulsive Gambler Leads Normal Life?

Good day all,

Sorry for the somewhat late start. I wanted to get all my yard work done before the sun, and with it the WASPS came out. Done now and ready to move on with my day.

Today I am going to enjoy some "normal life". What to many people do on a Saturday afternoon in June? Well, they have a BBQ of course! SO, I will attend one today. It will have all of the normal things, food, friends, a little "beverage" just like any other BBQ. The only difference? It will be primarily with GA members and their families. One of our local members is moving so we are saying goodbye. Not an "official" GA function, but since most of his friends are in the fellowship, that is who is likely to be there. I am looking forward to it. Much different than in my gambling days!

Why do I even mention this? Because I get many questions in person and via e-mail through this site about what life is like after you stop gambling? What it is like being around Gamblers Anonymous members so much?

Bottom line, it is the same type of life as most people have, only with these people the temptations of "lets play some poker?", or "lets head to the casino", or "lets bet on the game" do not come up! Otherwise we joke, talk, argue, debate politics and religion (outside of normal meetings where this does NOT occur) and more. We grow up with the children of members in the fellowship, suffer the losses of friends in the program. Basically we FEEL life again. Some of us for the first time in a long time.

So, I will go have a beer, a burger, and some friendship on a sunny June day like the rest of the world.

No big deal, except for the fact it is a miracle in the first place that I don't plan to place a bet today.

Have a good one all!

John

Nebraska Newspaper Calls For More Funding To Help Problem Gamblers

Nice editorial in today's edition of the Lincoln, Nebraska JournalStar newspaper entitled:

State spending on gambling out of balance

The editiorial does a nice job of pointing out that although the state actually spends in percentage terms more than many other states on treatment of compulsive gamblers, it is still far less than the advertising budget spent promoting play.

The best lines in the editorial?

"It's those people (speaking about the percentage of people who are pathological gamblers or problem gamblers) who are at risk when they hear state government repeat its pro-gambling mantra over and over again: "You can't win if you don't play."

"There's a mirror image of that message — you can't lose if you don't play — but it doesn't get spread by advertising dollars."

Important to remember that second one.

John

Recovery Saying of The Day...

"To be forgiven we must forgive."

As I have learned over my time since I last placed a bet, not everything in my life was solely my doing. Some people and events in my life were beyond my control and people hurt me. BUT, what I have learned is that I must control my REACTION to those events, present and past!

If I am to ever hope that others will forgive me for the tremendous wrongs I did to them while gambling, I must first forgive those that hurt me. Not an easy task, but vital none the less.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Teens + Gambling = Trouble

Here is a link to today's addition to the teenage gambling phenomenon.

Pennsylvania Senator Wants Tougher Gambling Regulations To Assist Problem Gamblers

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania – As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Sen. Vincent J. Fumo wants to toughen state gambling regulations to protect problem gamblers.

In a letter to the state gambling control board yesterday, the Philadelphia Democrat recommended that casinos not cash personal and government checks or check advances for gamblers. He also urged the board to require casino applicants to submit a plan to address compulsive gambling when they apply for a license, and casino operators to post gambling treatment information in advertising and at casinos.

The state's gambling law already requires some measures crafted to prevent problem gambling and sets aside a small portion of gambling revenue to treat gambling addiction.

But the additions would bring the state more in line with what other states require and codes of conduct adopted by the gambling industry, gambling experts said.

"…Pennsylvania law requires that 0.1 percent of gambling revenue be used to treat compulsive gambling. The state estimates annual revenue at $1 billion to $3 billion from as many as 61,000 slot machines at 14 locations across the state, which would equate to $1 million to $3 million for treatment programs…"

John's view:

I actually like the idea of limiting check cashing at casinos. I think those that are there for entertainment purposes only plan for how much they will spend at the most and bring it with them. The combination of no check cashing and limited ATM and Credit Card access could conceivably stop what I call the "deep binge" where as a compulsive gambler you just keep digging and digging for money during a bad session.

Mississippi Council On Compulsive Gambling Gets Donation From Casino

Reprinted from the Mississippi Business Jounral Online.

VICKSBURG — Ameristar Casino Hotel Vicksburg recently made a donation of $25,000 to the Mississippi Council on Problem and Compulsive Gambling (MCPCG) to be used towards treating compulsive gamblers. This donation will allow for 12 patients to complete a residential gambling treatment program. Referrals will come primarily from the MCPCG help line, and the treatment funds will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis.

"Through the collaborative efforts of MCPCG and Ameristar Casino Hotel Vicksburg, these compulsive gamblers will now have the opportunity to seek care and return to a balanced way of life," said Betty Greer, executive director of Jackson-based MCPCG. "This is the first time in Mississippi that money for residential treatment will be available to compulsive gamblers."

This donation is Ameristar_s second and largest contribution to MCPCG. Last year Ameristar donated $15,000 to MCPCG to help produce a television public service announcement targeting senior citizens. Ameristar also contributes to the Council through the Mississippi Gaming Association.

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"The first step is the only step a person can work perfectly."

Step 1 - We admitted our powerlessness over gambling - and that our lives were unmanageable. As the saying says, this is the only step of twelve we have complete control over, that mere admission. All of the other steps are meant to be worked on each day in attempts to better our lives.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Day 935 - Celebration Night

As compulsive gamblers, and members of Gamblers Anonymous we realize what a miracle it is when we do not place a bet for even a single day. So, when one of our brothers or sisters surpasses the seemingly IMPOSSIBLE task of achieving 15 years since their last bet, we make a BIG DEAL out of it.

Tonight was no different. The meeting was very well attended with members showing up from as far away as Las Vegas. Granted the man who was celebrating tonight is an exceptional member and servant in our program. He sponsors over 20 people, is our current regional intergroup chairman, attends meetings all over the place, and is one of our biggest answerers of hotline calls.

But even without all that, we would still have almost as many people there at a 15 year celebration. Why? Because we all know that at any time we could be back to the lies, guilt, chaos, and all the other negative things in life that gambling afforded us. So, we DO make a big deal when someone has figured out a way to stop for this length of time.

At the same time we had a newcomer there tonight. I have commented many times how overwhelming it must be for that person's first meeting to be filled with an entire room full of happy celebratory people. Many of us tried to comfort this man while at the same time acknowledging the tremendous accomplishment of the program.

But as I shared last night, when we come into the program we often are not sure what it is we are looking for. We only know that our lives are unmanageable, and gambling continues to make it worse every day. We just want it to STOP! But, soon we meet people in the program who seem to have the kind of life we can only dream of. We latch onto these people. Tonight's celebrant is one of those people.

Thankfully for me, he was there and has been willing to share himself with me. He has been a key to my success to date. To thank him, I try to be there as possible for those that come in after me. I cannot ever imagine being as comfortable with myself as he is, but then it is the effort that counts, not the outcome. Progress, not perfection.

Good night all. I am pretty tired. I knew it was going to be a busy week, and it has not disappointed me.

John

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"Gamblers Anonymous is a simple program for complicated people."

I must always remember not to get "too smart". The basic principles of the GA program are simple enough. Attend meetings, use the tools provided, and share with others. But sometimes I try to "overthink" everything. When I see this coming I try to remember this saying and just do what I have been doing with success so far.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Day 934 - Is GA The Only Way?

Evening all,

This post is likely to be a little longer than my usual, but I want to make sure I say all I need to say to make my points correctly. Sorry....

The other night I posted about how one of my main internet recovery tools, the Compulsive Gamblers Hub website was closing down. I guess it can't go down without controversy.

I have shared here in the past that as much as I believe that the internet chat rooms, posting boards, and research sites can be very valuable tools, for ME those tools must work in conjunction with the human face to face contact of Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

In addition to the meetings I must PARTICIPATE in the various aspects of the fellowship, social and otherwise. I must then APPLY the knowledge I gain from the program in my daily life.

See, I tried to stop gambling on my own hundreds of times over the 9 years or so that I gambled, never with much success. Until I was ready to surrender completely, I was always looking for the "easier", "softer" way to stop. After all, I had been living my life in this same manner...trying to get more money than I really "needed" the easy way by gambling, doing just enough at work to get by, telling juussstt enough truth that for a long time I was not questioned about my gambling etc. Why not do the same thing to stop.

BECAUSE, for me, it never worked! Sure, I managed to stop for a little while...but once the pain went away even a little bit, I was right back at it. I thought I knew it all and could control everything around me.

Which brings me to the CGHUB closing and the controversy. In an organization as large and diverse as GA, there are many different viewpoints on how the program works best, and the best way to stop gambling. We TRY to limit some of this in the meetings themselves by adhering to the 12 UNITY steps . It works pretty well actually. When a group of compulsive gamblers get together to share our experience, strength and hope...that is the primary focus. We try not to take each others "inventory".

Even with all these safeguards, sometimes the personalities creep in. People try and "tell" another what they need to do to keep from gambling instead of merely sharing how they themselves did not place a bet that day.

But, of course on a website, there is not as much of that control exerted. As a result, some of the "Die Hard GAers" as they are called, get frustrated with those that have decided not to attend any face to face meetings and continue to try to remain abstinent by using internet means alone. Sometimes these people get downright mean and harsh, calling the strugglers names and offering them NO hope if they do not attend GA meetings face to face.

These posts of course then beget posts from the accused, who defend their views that they do NOT need GA and on it goes.

Of course the GA believers point out time after time that the strugglers are constantly posting new "last day gambled" dates and say "see, this internet thing will never work!", forgetting how many people in the face to face meetings attend a single meeting never to be seen again.

On the other side, the strugglers use these mean spirited posts as their "reason" for not trying to apply whatever means necessary to stop gambling. They claim that many they have met in face to face meetings have portrayed similar attitudes. So, even if what they have been doing doesn't seem to be working, they keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result! (Our program definition of insanity by the way! See, as a compulsive gambler no matter what the damage I caused with the last session, the next time I told myself it would be different.)

In my experience VERY few people in a meeting try and force anything upon anyone, or say there is only a certain way to stop gambling. Even our literature allows for the common sense fact that the steps may be interpreted slightly different from one to another based on that person's life experiences. And yelling in a meeting? I honestly can't remember a single regular meeting where yelling has occurred. At the business meeting sometimes, LOL, but not in a regular therapy meeting. We all realize this is a matter of life and death for many and treat things as such.

My view? Both sides are kind of right. I am in no position to know whether the ONLY way to stop gambling is by attending and participating in the Gamblers Anonymous fellowship. How do I know? There may be many people out there that manage to stay away from the bet without a 12-Step program. What I DO know is that my experience and observations seem to point out that although far from a 100 percent success rate in GA, people do seem to remain abstinent more often in the F2F meetings than those I see solely posting on the internet. I tend to think that it probably falls into that "softer, easier" discussion I wrote about above.

Bottom line though? It shouldn't matter that much to me. I have plenty to do to keep myself in line. Of course I care, and want to help the newcomer or the struggler, but those who have been to many many more meetings than I have tried to show me through example that the best way to keep someone coming back is by showing them something they might want. I will be here when anyone is ready, in any forum. But when they ask me how "I" stopped, I will tell them over and over it was the GA program. After all, they asked!

So,that's what I do. I start EVERY one of my therapies in a meeting with the same sentence - "My name is John M. and I am a compulsive gambler. Thanks to FINALLY admitting my powerlessness over gambling. and TRYING to apply the steps of the GA program in my life EVERY DAY, I have not gambled now in 934 Days..."

That sentence really is the substance of how I finally stopped, and how I continue to try and not place a bet each day. Then I share a little piece of where gambling took me (bad places), how I stay away from gambling now (meetings, fellowship, step work etc..), and how it can work for anyone who is READY to do the work required. Am I always eloquent? NO. Do my therapies ever get a little wierd and contain personal aspects and opinions? Of course. I am TRYING to apply the steps of the program. Progress, not perfection is my goal. But I am never mean spirited. When I see someone struggling in and out of gambling I will sometimes tailor my talks in a direction that might nudge someone in a different direction than they may have tried in the past. But, in the end the person will make the choices they want to make. I cannot control people, places, or things.

I hope serenity will finally be restored to the CGHUB soon, but I have to remember that some of us are still sicker than others, on BOTH sides.

Thanks for letting me ramble.

John

MA State Lottery Makes Annual Donation To Council On Compulsive Gambling

BOSTON -- For the second year, the Massachusetts Lottery will dedicate a portion of its advertising budget to the battle against compulsive gambling in the Bay State.

Treasurer Timothy Cahill and lottery Executive Director Joseph C. Sullivan announced yesterday that $100,000 of the agency's $10 million advertising budget will be donated to the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, a private nonprofit dedicated to reducing the social, financial and emotional costs of problem gambling.

The lottery will also donate 1,000 short-length radio spots in media markets across the state and one million Internet ads designed to raise public awareness of problem gambling.

Officials said a similar campaign last year resulted in an increased number of calls to the council's help line.

As much as I applaud any efforts to address the problem, when you look at this number it is 1% of the lottery's ADVERTISING budget. It makes me wonder what percentage of total REVENUES generated by the lottery $100,000.00 is? But, I am sure the MA Council appreciates it none the less.

John

Oklahoma Realizes They Need Problem Gambling Treatment Options

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- More than 200 Oklahomans a month are calling a national hotline for problem gamblers.

But the head of the National Council on Problem Gambling says help at a statewide level is just now being organized.

Director Keith Whyte says nearly 900 Oklahomans called the national hotline between January and April of this year. Last year the hotline took about 24,000 calls from the state's area codes.

The national group has referred Oklahomans to assistance in neighboring states or to resources on the Internet because no state agencies deal specifically with gambling addiction.

With explosive growth in Indian gaming and next fall's planned startup of the lottery, a number of groups are training employees and counselors to fill the gap in Oklahoma.

Lawmakers provided for $500,000 in unclaimed lottery prize money to be set aside each year for treating gambling disorders.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"Attraction, not Promotion"

I have been reminded recently that it is crucial that those of us who have been able to attain whatever time from our last bet we have by using the tools provided by the Gamblers Anonymous fellowship that the best way to share that success with others is by using the time tested, simple approach. By simply sharing our own experiences of the damage gambling caused in our lives and how nothing else we tried ever seemed to work for very long, sharing our strength to remain bet-free with the help of the fellowship, and by sharing the hope with the newcomer that it can work for them as well, we offer the best chance of success. By trying to "preach" that there is absolutely no other way to stop gambling other than GA is often taken as a "know it all" approach and is unattractive to many.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Day 933 - A Busy Week Of Recovery

As a recovering compulsive gambler I have often said that my DESIRE to keep from gambling can be directly related to the ACTIONS I am willing to take to ensure I don't. The ways that I work towards the goal can vary depending on what life is offering me at the time, but usually involves attending meetings, giving back to the Gamblers Anonymous program (service as we call it), blogging here and more.

Well, this week's main focus will be meetings, with a little bit of service. It starts tonight with my attendance at our monthly intergroup meeting, but this month I am even going a couple hours early as I am part of a committee doing a special review of our San Diego GA website. We all love the site, but there have been a couple of concerns that we may want to add links to "outside issue" sites such as credit bureau services etc.... These little committees can be enjoyable and frustrating at the same time. But then isn't all of life?

Anyway, tomorrow night is my "home" meeting and then Thursday is the 15-Year abstinence celebration for one of our area's most stalworthy members. This guys is amazing! He is our current intergroup chairperson, attends numerous meetings per week, sponsors a bunch of people, yet is somehow still very down to earth, realistic, and fun to be around! This meeting will be VERY well-attended and I am sure I will see some people I haven't seen for awhile. It will be nice.

Then on Saturday, a friend of mine in the program is moving to the midwest and we are having a little BBQ for him, followed by a FIVE member birthday celebration at a meeting on Sunday.

Pretty hard for me to gamble with all this going on...

I will bring back some of the highlights.

John

Pennsylvania Newspaper Calls For Casinos to Bear Burden Of Compulsive Gambling

An editorial on the Towanda, PA Daily and Sunday Review newspaper discussed the projected impact of legalized gambling in the state. Specifically it discusses problem gambler treatment programs, who is, and should fund those and more. The editorial, using conservative numbers projects up to 50,000 new compulsive gamblers in the state.

Yet another downside to Act 72

Gambling Research Prompts Call For Ad Ban - Australia

REPRINTED FROM ABCNEWSONLINE

New research into problem gambling has led to calls for a ban on gambling advertising outside venues.

The research, conducted by Anglicare Tasmania, examined the gambling problems of 35 Tasmanians on low incomes.

It found low income earners did not need to spend a lot of money on gambling for it to become a problem and that many felt lured by the sight and sounds of pokie machines and the prospect of making a fortune.

Anglicare Tasmania wants restrictions placed on gambling advertising, similar to those on cigarette advertising.

Researcher Margie Law says study participants believed advertising made it harder to control the problem.

"Advertising of gambling on the television, on billboards and banners and things encouraged them to continue or to return to gambling," she said.

"The sound of gambling, the idea that it's exciting."

"The idea that they might win, all encouraged them to continue their gambling."

Not sure I agree with this. I do hear at meetings from some that they get urges when they drive by billboards, but I am a believer that we are unable to remove ourselves completely from society, nor society completely from us. Hence, we must learn to DEAL with the urges before we act upon them, howver the urge is brought on.

John

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"Live life on life's terms."

This saying relates to the compulsive gambler's tendency to want to control everything around them. This is a common trait. Once we learn to DEAL with life, rather than TRY to control it, things seem to get better. At a minimum we have more serenity in life.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Sometimes The Program Just Fits Even Better Than Normal

Reflection for the Day

Adjusting myself to things as they are, and being able to love without trying to interfere with or control anyone else, however close to me-----that's one of the important things I search for and can find in Gamblers Anonymous. The learning is sometimes painful; however, the reward is life itself-----full and serene.

Is the Program helping restore me to a sane and reasonable way of thinking, so I can handle my interpersonal relationships with love and understanding?

Today I Pray

May I respect those I love enough to set them free-----to stop controlling, manipulating, scheming, bailing them out of trouble. May I love them enough to let them make their own mistakes and take responsibility for them. May I learn to let go.

Today I Will Remember

Loving is letting go.

The passage above is from the Gamblers Anonymous "One Day At A Time" book. Each day there is a reading to help bring us addicted gamblers back to earth and help us to keep from placing that last bet.

I don't normally post this on the blog. Many others do. But I do read it every day. Some days I am absolutely astonished at how the saying relates to my life. I swear to all that when I posted last night about my "ex" and how I always want to fix everything for her. Well, low and behold...I open up the book this morning and find the passage above! Uncanny!

So, I will try to learn from this "God thing" as some would call it.

Hope all is well with everyone.

John

Nevada Problem Gambling Bill Just Needs Governor's Signature

Got an e-mail from my good friend Carol O'Hare on this one. Carol is the Executive Director of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling and sent this link along of an article in today's Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper. The article just updates on an issue I have followed on this blog since the beginning regarding a bill to provide some state funding assistance to compulsive gambler treatment in Nevada. The bill has been approved and now just awaits the Governor's signature. When signed it will provide 2.5 million dollars in funding. Much more thatn the current $300,000 annually alotted from mostly private sources.

Carol and her crew worked hard on this one! I am glad to see it moving towards finality.

John

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"Prison, death, insanity, or recovery."

These are the clear choices for the most addicted of compulsive gamblers. What many never understand until it is too late is that problem gambling is a PROGRESSIVE addiction. Things we NEVER thought we would do early in our gambling careers somehow makes perfect sense later into it.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Teens, Teens, and More Teens Gambling

Here are three articles discussing the teenage poker craze. I am unsure what more I can add here at this point that I have not already said. Eventually the ramifications of this craze will be shown. I am not sure what those will be of course, but my guess is that they will be negative.

My only hope is that this turns out to be just a "fad" and that it goes away as fast as it came.

I don't think it will though.

Dark side of gambling brought to light in talk at Salve - Newport, RI Daily News

Online poker snaring more teens - Brandento, FL Herald Today

Teens find poker good bet for fun - The Daily Telegram

John

Recovery Saying of The Day...

"In Gamblers Anonymous we don't carry the compulsive gambler; we carry the message."

The message is that there is HOPE! It can, and has gotten better for many of us.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Day 930 - Communicating With The Ex

Evening All,

Not too much to impart today.. One of those rare days where I didn't get even a single news story related to the topic.

I have been in some e-mail communication with my ex-girlfriend "A" a lot today. I had not spoken with her much until today and then all of a sudden 10 e mails back and forth. She is in a crisis and I am trying to help her through it.

I guess I still have a lot of that "Mr. Fix It" mentality. The thinking that I can fix all things for someone else. In all honesty I am pretty good at it, but I have learned that for me to stress to hard about those times where I CANNOT do it myself is a dangerous thing. Dangerous things can lead me back to my old thinking. Including gambling.

But, as long as I am careful about it. I am glad to help her. I hurt her in so many ways while gambling. Also, I am not sure I will ever stop caring about her in a special way. She really has been the biggest love of my adult life.

But she isn't perfect. I used to think if I took care of every problem she faced, she would love me so much that nothing could tear us apart. I guess I know now that she must live some things on her own.

Anyway, my San Diego Padres got creamed tonight. But tomorrow is another day.

Thanks for letting me share.

John

P.S. - Added a couple of new links today.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Demystifying 12-Step Meetings

Here is a link to a blog page that has reprinted one of the BEST articles about what 12-Step programs are, who attends, what happens at meetings, and more. It is not Gamblers Anonymous specific, but rather 12-Step programs in general.

If you have questions. Here are many answers.


John

Day 929 - Goodbye to the Compulsive Gamblers Hub

It appears there is a good chance one of my tools of recovery may be unavailable soon.

I have mentioned on this site in the past about the Compulsive Gamblers Hub (www.cghub.org) and have a link to it on the right.

The site has been around in several variations for over 5 years now offering a place to gather up information on gambling addiction, including links to other sites including this blog, facts and figures, and more.

But the MAIN and by far most popular feature of the site was the "posting board" which allowed anyone who desired a chance to journal and communicate with other problem gamblers worldwide almost instantly. At its current peak there were over 1100 people registered on the site with an active core of about 200 I would guess. People posted daily about their lives and gambling. There is a mixture of people there...some strugglers, some newcomers, and some people with considerable abstinence. Many went to GA, too many don't. As it is in GA meetings, some would share toooo much, and some were toooo nice for me. But, as also in a GA meeting, it was easy enough for me to take what I needed (and there was PLENTY of that!) and leave the rest.

In the end this "ease of use" which made it so popular proved to be the site's downfall.

Inevitably people with divergent viewpoints on the best way to arrest our addiction presented themselves, often in hostile manners. Some like me, tried to impress that as useful a tool as the board is/was, my experience has been the relapse rate to be considerably higher for those that try to quit gambling using ONLY this support. Others resented anything to do with GA and some "moments" shall we say followed.

Most, including myself were never rude, and only offered my experience and hope as we know it to others. I am not here to judge anyone. Unfortunately others did judge, gambing ads started appearing, and even threatening posts and e-mails to members of the board.

Various methods to control this activity were tried, but people always managed to find a way to complain about it. Finally, the site webmaster Charlie P. decided he could no longer dedicate the time to effectively control things without losing his serenity. Hence tonight he announced the site is on its last days.

There are other chat rooms, yahoo groups, and of course blogs out there. But this one had it's own flavor. Its own form of caring and love. It's own open-mindedness (most of the time..).

I will miss it. I wish Charlie P. well. I hope other posters on this board manage to find their way to some of the other outlets I offered as alternatives to them.

Mostly, I hope some of them see this as an opportunity to try to get to a face to face Gamblers Anonymous meeting.

John

P.S. - San Diego Padres back on the winning track again tonight!!

Canadian TV Show "Living Clean" To Focus On Addictions

Click Here to Read Entire Article from the Stoney Creek News Online Site

Starting June 5th, 2005, residents all over Canada will be able to see a WEEKLY show focusing on addictions of all types, including Compulsive Gambling.

Glenn Allan, host and executive producer of popular CTS television show GoodNews Sports and Gabe Macaluso, former CEO of Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities will host a late night television talk show designed to assist individuals suffering with addiction.

Taped live, Living Clean starts this Sunday and will run weekly from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on CTS TV. It will be broadcast to 3.8 million households or 85 per cent of Ontario's population in Toronto/Hamilton, Kitchener/London and Ottawa.

An additional 2 million homes across Canada will receive Living Clean through Bell Express Vu (channel 651), Star Choice (channel 355) and Look TV (channel 19) DTH satellite services.

The program will aim to educate and arm adults and youth with real facts and solutions about addiction.

Living Clean will offer choices and encouragement to the addict and their families through sharing of experience, strength and hope.

Mr. Allan is the second youngest of five children born in Hamilton and raised in Stoney Creek.

A hockey/baseball coach sexually abused him over an eight-year span, beginning at the age of seven. As with most victims of sexual abuse, Mr. Allan hid his secret for many years, or so he thought. This secret manifested itself through shame-based attitudes and behaviours, which led him to alcoholism, a cocaine addiction and finally suicide attempts.

Mr. Macaluso is a pathological gambler in recovery and gives his time to others with this insidious disease.

I look forward to some reviews of this show. I have often thought there is an audience for a show of this type hosted BY people in recovery. Many of the daytime talk show hosts attempt at discussing addiction, but seem to often fall short of one side or the other. Either they focus on the titilation of the pain and loss of the addicted, failing to focus enough time on possible solutions, OR they focus entirely on the solution making people watching feel the problem is not real. I hope this show succeeds and similar ones are started in other parts of the world.

John

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"Minds are like parachutes----they won't work unless they're open."

I still do not understand how everything works that is presented to me in the Gamblers Anonymous program. But, so far nothing that people have stressed has proven UNTRUE. So I try to keep an open mind to make sure I don't miss something important.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Day 928 - E mails and Stories

Hello,

People come to visit this blog for many reasons.

Some of the visitors leave comments on posts. Today someone commented that he was "once" a compulsive gambler, but now he gambles and it does not control him. Good for him. That won't work for me, I KNOW. And it doesn't seem to be possible for most problem gamblers I run across, once they first make that admission that they are a gambling addict.

Other people e mail me directly. Some of these are quite moving. Here is one I got today (I have removed any parts that may give away anonymity:

I have been sitting here reading all of these stories on the Internet and you are the first one that caught my attention.

My story? My husband and I both work in the casinos and we have been together for about 5 years. We have 2 children, make great money (150,000+ yr), we have minimal bills, yet we are always in debt due to gambling.

We haven't lost our house or anything to make our lives uncomfortable however if we have extra money it goes to the casinos. We work until 500am and we stay awake to pick the kids up at 800am, so for 3 or more hours after work we really have nothing else to do (so we feel).

We hit the casinos, and drink up the cocktails that come every 5 min. Before we know it we have lost a few thousand dollars and now we are deciding who will drive home.

This is an everyday thing!

I am tired. I have no idea how to stop. We have tried to do other things after work like go to the gym, go bowling, or even come home, but that doesn't last long.

I'm tired of lying to my kids about why we are late and they have to miss school, I'm tired of seeing the money we make and have nothing to show for it.

She went on to ask me for any suggestions. First, I told her that in my experience this is a PROGRESSIVE addiction. Things I thought I would NEVER do, at some point in that progression seemed perfectly reasonable.

Next, I treated this like so many hotline calls I get here in San Diego. I suggested a meeting. I asked her...what can it hurt? Nobody forces you to stay, to say anything, to admit anything, or to come back; and it's free! I also reminded her that only each person can admit that they are a compulsive gambler...nobody else can decide for you. I told her how many of us find other activities of a social nature to do WITH EACH OTHER, such as picnics, golfing, parties etc...

Finally I closed the return e mail to her with..what else? A saying! One of my favorites:

"I would rather attend meetings and WONDER whether I am a compulsive gambler, then be out there proving it!"

Have a good night all.

John

Removing Slot Machines Does Little To Curb Problem Gambling In Australia

This article from the Australian newspaper "The Age" looks at whether removing SOME slot machines from poorer areas of Melbourne, Australia had any effect on curbing compulsive gambling. The evidence seems to suggest that this effort, by itself, does little to lower the rate of problem gamblers. The government is still moving forward to reduce the number of machines in certain areas.

Its like I have been saying. Unless you are going to remove legalized gambling ENTIRELY, a position I do not advocate, and one this is not going to happen, for me its about education, identification, and treatment.

John

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"You are exactly where you are supposed to be."

I wrote a little bit last night about how I was kind if in a "holding pattern" in several areas of my life and how I was happy with that for now. I must remember that I cannot control everything around me at all times. As long as I keep the courage to change those things that I can, eventually my life keeps getting better. For now I must accept the fact that this is the place I am supposed to be in life right now.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Day 927 - Its Been A Few Days

Evening all,

Just finished watching my San Diego Padres lose one....oh well, they have been playing great ball and even made this one interesting to the last out.

Well, I haven't really journaled much in the last few days. As a recovering compulsive gambler that can also be dangerous. I guess I just haven't had anything to say really, and believe me that is rare! But, I have been thinking about it, and had a couple of reminders of where I am in life today.

First, I got an e-mail from the person in charge of the booklet that will be passed out at our national Gamblers Anonymous to be held here in October. She was wondering whether she could post my "Remembering Day One" post from this blog in the book. She also liked one of my recovery sayings I had posted -- "Change is a process, not an event." I told her to print whatever she thinks may be helpful and went on with my day.

But, I started thinking about her bringing up the saying about change. Later, as often happens, while at a meetings, someone started talking about how now that they had a few months since their last bet, they were working on making some amends. The man spoke about how he had been kind of "white-knuckling" it each day in efforts to stay away from the bet, but is finally ready to take on some things he had not been willing to do prior to this point.

After he spoke, I went next, and changed immediately from what I was going to say to this subject. See, he reminded me that I don't always NOTICE the changes in my life every day, but they are happening. I have shared here on the blog about this before also, but it is no less true for me now.

I am sort of in a "holding pattern" right now. No big changes are on the horizon. I don't have enough money to go anywhere too special, or buy a new car, or anything like that. I don't plan on changing jobs anytime soon. I don't have a new girlfriend in the picture.

I am just sort of "living life". Working, making amends (slowly), working my GA program, and occasionally having a little bit of fun. Not very exciting, but...ok none the less!

Although it can not SEEM like much is changing, every once in a while I notice. I pay off another bill. I speak to someone I hurt in the past and make that amend. I help someone. I smile more than I used to. All small things in and of themselves. But put together...BIG!

So, for now I will keep doing more of the same. As long as I choose not to gamble today, life is automatically better for me.

John

A Local Article!

Here is just a quick link to an article from MY local newspaper the San Diego Union-Tribune about how the local cities and counties wish more money would be funnelled out to them from the Indian Casinos in the county. San Diego has more casinos than any other county in the nation.

My point of posting it is because of just a single line in the article.

"Local communities are second on a list of the fund's priorities, after problem gambling, but they have received a relatively small percentage of the money."

That's funny, because hardly any of the money in the State Fund has gone to problem gambling issues either!! Most of the money has been paid out to non-gambling tribes in the state.

Sheesh...

John

Singapore Prepares Problem Gambling Program As It Opens "Integrated Resorts"

SINGAPORE: Having the right programmes to deal with problem gambling is important when opening an integrated resort with a casino, say addiction experts.

Singapore, which is setting up two integrated resorts with casinos, probably could learn some lessons from the National Responsible Gambling Programme in South Africa.

"Gamble with your head, and not your heart" stickers can be found on the slot machines and roulette tables in South African casinos.

That is just one of the many messages from the country's National Responsible Gambling Programme.

The programme is a public-private collaboration between industry and government and fully funded by the private sector.

It deals with problem gambling, especially since South Africa has more than 30 casinos.

Dr Rodger Meyer, medical director of the National Responsible Gambling Programme, said: "We're able to provide a service to quite a wide spectrum of people who run into problems. One of the problems in South Africa is the multilingual context. We need to provide the service in most languages."

"Studies have shown that the best way to prevent any social fallout from gambling is to have a programme....to educate on the problems of gambling and treat those who run into such problems," he said.

He added that the introduction of legalised gambling without a problem gambling programme is an irresponsible behaviour.

The National Responsible Gambling Programme also has counsellors to man a helpline.

The helpline receives about 3,000 calls every month, with about 100 identified as problem gamblers.

But it's not just gamblers who seek help. Family members also do so.

Barbara Van Der Spny, a National Responsible Gambling Programme's counsellor, said: "We have family programmes. Let's say the spouse or child calls, we would refer the child to a treatment specialist."

"We would help the child or spouse to deal with the problem and in that way help the gambler as it's not only the gambler who is affected, but the whole family," she added.

More of the article reprinted from the ChannelNewsAsia.com website can be read here.

Recovery Saying of the Day...

"Gamblers Anonymous IS the easier, softer way."

For so many, when they first come to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, the hardest thing is first admitting they are in fact a compulsive gamblers. Then, after they do make this admission, the next hardest thing is accepting the fact that repairing the damage caused will not fix overnight. They must continue to learn by attending meetings, applying the tools offered, and working the steps of the program. Many choose to try "one more time" to go back to the bet, hoping they will be able to win enough money to ease some of the pain, and then promise themselves they will never get into the situation again. Unfortunately for most, this never happens. Once we as compulsive gamblers cross that invisible line, we can never go back. There is not enough money.

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