Wanna Bet?

Posted on: March 23, 2015
Tags: Bet, Gambling, Problems

By Jennifer Benson



It’s a good bet that most of the adults in this community have gambled at some point in their lives.  Up to 75% of U.S. adults have gambled at least once in the last year, 15% at least weekly. (National Council on Problem Gambling) Even adolescents in our community have gambled; approximately 28% of youth aged 12-17 have engaged in gambling some or most of the time.  So what does this mean? 


Gambling can take many forms.  In our community it can range from lottery tickets to scratch offs to Super Bowl bets to the Casinos.  Played in a low risk way, these games can add fun to people’s lives.  However, many people are unable to stop at low risk and quickly move on to problem gambling.  Six million adults nationwide meet the criteria for gambling addiction (National Council on Problem Gambling).  While these statistics may not hit home, there are many repercussions from gambling that can.  One very real problem is the impact it has on the family, and more specifically, the marriage.  One study from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report, stated that 53.5% percent of identified pathological gamblers reported having been divorced, versus 18.2% of non-gamblers and 29.8% of low-risk gamblers.  Gambling can lead to significant financial problems which put a strain on the marriage and family.  The following is a local woman’s account of how gambling has impacted her and her family.




  • Gambling and the effects on a family:

When Ohio brought the casinos into the area I don't think the voters realized the real effect this would have on a lot of families, even their own families. Sure the big sale to the voters was for the casino to provide the state with tax dollars and jobs for many people who were in need of employment and benefits. Additionally there was the promise of fine dining restaurants and entertainment for their enjoyment.  I can't really talk about what the benefits have been to the state but I do know firsthand that this has been very hard to manage with my family.

As far as gambling, it started way before the casinos came into Ohio.   It definitely escalated with the easy access being available within minutes instead of an hour or more away in Indiana (since before Ohio built their facilities, Indiana was the closest).

A few years ago my husband was hurt at work and was on disability, and the boredom set in. So now and then the trip to an Indiana casino with some of his family started (who are all addicted to gambling even more than my husband). Once every three months or so he would tag along. Then he would start going on his own, and the process began.

When you first go into a casino you sign up for a player’s card.   You put this card into the machine when you play and it keeps track of your wins and losses. I have not filled out anything for this but since we now get promotional mailing to our home on what is happening monthly at the casino I would say you give them personal info like your address or email. This is a big hook to draw you into the casino monthly or even weekly. These mailers have free promo money or play money on them, buffet money for lunch or dinner, and now the new big draw is free weekly give-aways like luggage, dishes, etc.

Also the more you play (win or lose) the player card is just like any other card:   you advance to levels red, gold, silver, etc.  The more your card is used the more points you earn and this will give you chances at the big give-aways at the end of the month, like a “New Car”.  Wow!

Why do people not realize what the casino marketing is doing? They are sucking you in for a few “Dollar Store” items and this is all a business write-off for them. My husband talks about the line to get these items and says how crazy it is, and yet he does not realize he is in this line too.  He goes every week so he has the complete set of whatever they are giving away.  I now have four cookie jars for Christmas, maybe each worth $9.99 at best and they probably cost us over $400.00.

Yes, he goes every week at least once if not twice and occasionally three times depending on what is going on with the monthly flyer from the casino. His family calls him and says.  “Come on.  Let’s just go for a little bit.” This is their “act of kindness” to cheer him up since he could not return to work after his injury and surgery.

 Each time he is just going to play the “promo money”, but will end up playing whatever is in his wallet and when that runs out the ATM is so close by.  Now when you use an ATM at the casino you will pay a fee charged by the casino, and because this is not a let’s say in the “network” ATM for the bank, you will also pay a fee from your bank.  So now you have double fees and also the money you have just pulled from your account.  Say goodbye to it all.  Sometimes he will do this twice and again occasionally a third time, so a trip to the casino could run from $100 to $300 plus your double fees, and also what was in his wallet at the time.   Who knows what that was?  

I also need to mention that gambling started in Ohio long before the casinos moved into the state with the Lottery.  So it is probably a sure “bet” that if they visit the casino regularly that they also play the Lottery and buy all kinds of tickets.  This was the first draw for my husband. He would pick up a ticket now and then when he bought gas.  Now it is also a constant at the gas station, and even the grocery.  He has advanced from the $1.00 to the $5.00 tickets, $10.00 tickets, to the special $20.00 ones at special times like New Year’s, and even the big multi-state Power Ball drawings when the pot is super big. 

Where does it end?  How do you stop it?  How do you get them to admit they have a problem?   It is affecting our lives in more ways than one:  trust, emotions, finances, security, and family. 


This is a very passionate story and one that is not unique.  If you can relate, please seek help.  Contact the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-598-9966.  For local prevention efforts, contact Envision Partnerships at 513-868-2100 and for treatment, contact Community Behavioral Health at 513-887-8500.