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A compulsive gambler will often reply yes to most of these questions, but many simply wont admit the fact that they have a problem. Admitting that their behaviour is compulsive is like accepting defeat. Gamblers spend most of their time trying to win, so giving in doesnt come easy. Gambling has been seen as a problem in society, ever since it was made legal in Nevada and Atlantic City in 1976. Since then, pro-gambling lobbyists have fought to get a form of legalized gambling in every state, but the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling has prevailed.
In 1987 however, the Supreme Court ruled that Native Americans, who are without state regulation, could offer legal gambling far outside Indian reservations. This decision has contributed to the rising numbers of compulsive gamblers in many states. More than 6% of adult gamblers are now considered to be addicted, and the numbers are continuing to grow. At present, Americans will wager over 550 billion dollars a year, a 3,200% increase since 1976. Solutions to this problem are beginning to come forward, much to the gambling industry dislike, as the four percent of pathological gamblers may account for as much as 52% of an average casino¡¦s revenues. (Horn 4)
The causes of compulsive gambling are similar to those which alcoholics and drug addicts encounter. Compulsive gamblers are preoccupied with seeking out gambling and gamble longer than intended, and with more money than intended. There is also the equivalent of ¡§tolerance¡¨ when gamblers have to increase the size of their bets or the odds against them in order to create the desired amount of excitement. (Lesieur 2) The cause of the addiction can also be linked to the gamblers seeking the as well winning money. The desire to remain is so intense, that many gamblers will go for days without sleep, without eating, and even without going to the bathroom in order to escape their problems.In these cases the action means excitement, thrills, and tension, all of which keep the addicts adrenalin flowing, creating.
Gambling is now widely available because of its legalization and promotion through various media. Casinos promote their service as a trendy and fun thing to do with the chance of winning big and solving gamblers problems. State lotteries are a good example of portraying the idea of winning big. Millions of people each week buy lottery tickets; some even buy them in the hundreds. Sometimes there are winners, but many times the jackpot rolls over to the next week. More people tend to buy tickets when this occurs because the jackpot is greater. Still however, the odds of winning are always the same, heavily stacked against the gambler.
Gambling establishments also have policies which worsen the extent of compulsive gamblers debts. For example, check cashing services at gambling facilities; cash machines at the gambling location or within walking distance of the casino; one-time credit checks on the gamblers rather than a periodic review of credit required; no total review of credit when a payment for a marker has or is overdue loan sharks operating in or near the gambling facility and drinking in association with gambling which produces irrational play and increases debt. (Lesieur 3) Allowing the gambler to obtain money so easily shouldn’t be considered a convenience and should be stopped.
The effects of compulsive gambling on society are very negative. A gamblers actions do not only effect themselves but in many cases the gamblers family will often be burdened by his debts, meaning that fewer family expenditures are possible. Payments for mortgages, as well as other bills, may be put off to the point where they are late or overdue. In more severe cases, utilities may be shut off, automobiles or furniture may be repossessed, and household items may have to be sold.(qtd. in Lesieur 5). The family might even be evicted from their apartment or the mortgage may be foreclosed. These situations almost always cause difficulties within the household and can be very traumatic for children living under these circumstances.
The compulsive gambler may be driven to steal, embezzle, or commit fraud to find money to continue gambling. Approximately two-thirds of non-incarcerated pathological gamblers admit engaging in illegal behaviour to finance gambling or pay gambling related debts. (qtd. in Lesieur 6). These tend to be people who have never before committed a crime, yet compulsive gamblers are still responsible for an estimated 1.3 billion dollars worth of insurance related fraud per year (Horn 3).
Pathological gambling can also lead to high debts for the gambler. As gamblers follow a roller-coaster relationship with wins, losses, and breaking even, the amount of debt or profit at any time is difficult to measure (Lesieur 3).
Because losses outweigh wins in the long run for pathological gamblers, they typically borrow in order to afford continued play or to recover past losses. The average gambling-related debt (excluding auto loans, mortgages, and other legitimate debts) of individuals in treatment ranges from 53 to 92 thousand dollars. (qtd. in Lesieur 45).
As gambling has only recently been identified as a growing societal trend, research into its causes and effects have not been extensively studied. The most noticeable effects of compulsive gambling are depression, insomnia, intestinal disorders, migraines and other stress related diseases, as well as the dependence on alcohol or other substance abuse problems.
There may never be as good a remedy for preventing people from becoming addicted to gambling as making its practice completely illegal. This would probably be as likely as tobacco products becoming illegal, but it’s always possible. The National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling has made the following proposals for federal, state, and local governments. Stop the authorization of new gambling establishments and the expansion of old ones. Re-ban TV and radio advertisements for gambling. Require warning labels on all print advertisements for gambling.Crack down on illegal gambling and sports betting available through the Internet. Limit the amounts that can be bet and lost within a reasonable time period. Ban loans by casinos, prevent borrowing on credit cards for gambling stakes, and prohibit all ATM machines near gambling sites.¨ (qtd. in Horn 5)
The main idea that these proposals all touch on is that the amount of money gamblers play with should be controlled. The biggest cause of people getting into debt is that they have been allowed to continue betting even when they have lost what they could afford to lose. Compulsive gamblers will continue to bet money with the belief that they will eventually win big and get themselves out of debt. However, this isn`t as probable as casinos would like us to believe.
The fact is that if we are to stop more people from becoming addicted, these strong actions must be carried out. The tough job of getting the casino industry to admit to the problems of compulsive gambling (much like the tobacco companies admitting cigarettes are addictive) should also worked on. If the casino industry is so adamant on making gambling legal, then they should meet on some middle ground with the government, to help make gamblingsafe. Perhaps in the near future these compromises might allow gamblers to have their fun; the government to collect a tax on the revenues; and the casinos to collect big profits. Wouldn’t it be a perfect world?
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