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Letter to Editor

A Compulsive Gambler’s Plea

January 15, 2022

Congratulations on the success of The National Herald. The newspaper is in a great position to help many Greek-Americans with a problem that is very close to my heart; this serious problem is compulsive gambling.

It would be merciful if TNH could reach, inform and educate Greek-Americans who are losing their shirts gambling and neglecting their family responsibilities that the odds are not in their favor. Promoters like to present gambling like a Christmas tree and treat it as the panacea to finance all of society’s needs. There is nothing heavenly, or loving about compulsive gambling. Gambling is a bottomless pit of misery and despair for those caught in its grip. It is not the solution for those who are seeking a better way of life. It is a daily tragedy for families that are suffering, and a public crisis that, for some reason, no one wants to address. An interview with the wife, husband, child, mother, and father of a sick compulsive gambler would put an end to this ‘dream world’ and open up people’s eyes about the devastation that gambling leaves in its wake.

The reality is that gambling addicts gamble away their paychecks week after week, month after month, and year after year.

When will there be enough casinos in New York State? Not too long ago, casino gambling was illegal in the state. Today, thanks to promoters and politicians who are always seeking tax revenues for their favorite projects, there are 32 casinos in NYS and another one is in the works at the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton. As a result, we are constantly being bombarded by casino ads showing million dollar winners enticing us to part with our money. It saddens me to see professional athletes in ads promoting gambling on television.

Gambling studies have reported there are about 10 million Americans addicted to gambling and that the number is growing every day. Last year, Daily News columnist Errol Louis wrote: “There may be as many as 400,000 problem gamblers in New York.” These people are still gambling and losing their money. Consumer gambling losses are reported to be over 100 billion dollars a year. In 1980 the American Psychiatric Association listed pathological or compulsive gambling as an official mental disease or disorder. Compulsive gamblers have the delusional belief that their bad luck will change with the next bet, and that they possess some kind of ‘special skill or knowledge’ to help them win. Treatment centers have also reported that a considerable number of compulsive gamblers also have a problem with alcohol.

Casino revenues are skyrocketing. Newsday reported that Jake’s 58 Casino Hotel on Long Island raked in $6 billion in the three years prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. Jake’s 58’s slogan was – “Jake’s 58 Where Long Island Wins.” You can still see this slogan on billboards around Long Island. That is deceptive advertising. The casino golden rule is: “Keep them playing; the longer they play the more they lose.”

The billions of dollars in casino profits tell the real story on who wins and who loses. However, it doesn’t tell the whole story about mothers not having enough money to buy food and clothes for their children, having the electricity turned off, and kids getting a cupcake instead of a birthday cake because Papa gambled away the money. Families are being destroyed by the gambling addiction and surprisingly no one wants to expose it.

Unfortunately, the sick compulsive gambler often denies that he or she has a problem, and is usually the last one to know that a problem exists. However, there is good news for those suffering with a gambling problem. The good news is Gamblers Anonymous (GA) can help. You can get help by calling the Gamblers Anonymous New York City Hotline (855-222-5542) and attending GA meetings. During COVID, many Zoom and conference call meetings are available every day of the week. This call can save gamblers and their families years of misery, pain and financial hardship. GA has been saving lives and restoring families to sanity for more than 60 years. A compulsive gambler wins when he waves the white flag and surrenders to the fact that gambling has him licked. This is not always easy to do, but it is possible with the help of GA. Ms. Diamataris, please give compulsive gamblers and their families who are out there suffering a chance for a better life by helping to expose compulsive gambling for the evil that it really is.

I thank The National Herald for publishing this article. Many families will be indebted to you.

By a concerned anonymous compulsive gambler

 

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