It’s a simple question. “Do you think about gambling?” Maybe the better question is: “How often do you think about gambling?” Don’t be too quick to answer. Consider where you work. Do you have pools for such things as March Madness or the Super Bowl Game? Do you ever “go-in” on the purchase of a lottery ticket with your co-workers? Consider gift purchases. Do you ever buy lotto tickets for holiday stocking stuffers? How about a quick insert to a birthday greeting? Consider watching sporting events. Do you ever enter into a “small wager” on the Monday night football game, the Kentucky Derby, the Indy 500? And then there is the Friday night poker club. Or the church or school raffle or community bingo or the Publisher’s Clearing House.  All for a good cause!

The fact is betting is part of human nature. For example, we flip coins (and then scream “best two out of three”), we watch our gas gauge mentally betting that we have enough gas to get to the next service station, even in a recent presidential candidates’ debate many were shocked when one candidate turned to the other and proffered “Want to bet? $10,000?” Were we shocked more by the suggestion of betting or the fact that the gentleman could afford to bet $10,000 on the spur of the moment?

Gambling and gambling addiction is often in the news. Just a month ago the big news in Cleveland, Ohio, was the grand opening of the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland and it marked the birth of Las Vegas style gambling in Ohio. Within a week of the opening the KYPost ran a story titled “Gambling addiction, suicides come with opening of casinos…” It is an interesting article and included this video coverage which indicates that social workers throughout the Cleveland area are attending free seminars to learn more about dealing with gambling addiction.

Family members that deal with a loved one who suffers from a gambling addition also tend to unconsciously enable the behavior. They get angry when their spouse loses his/her whole paycheck at a casino, a card game, or off track betting (OTB), but then are joyous when the gambler wins and comes home with a new car or even a fur coat. It happens…we are human. The whole family needs to learn how to work a program of recovery. 

You can learn more about the history of gambling in the United States here or better yet check out Jeffrey C. Friedman, MHS, LISAC, CCGC, Gambling Therapist’s article in the May/June 2012 edition of Together Newsletter“Going All In: I Can’t Stop Gambling”. It is a powerful article. Don’t miss it.

Once last thought, just in case you are of a mind that we don’t all gamble at one time or another. An awful lot of people were willing to bet a minimum of $3.00 to win a chance to have dinner with George Clooney and 150 of his good friends including the President and the First Lady!

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