In order to get beyond the statistics and provide a more personal and individual picture of this issue, this section features the stories of individuals who have been affected by problem gambling, including people experience gambling problems and their family members, friends, colleagues and employers; treatment providers; advocates; and many others. Send us your story! Go to Contact Us and tell us about your successes and challenges. Photos are welcome!
2016 Annual Fund, Public Awareness Programs and Operating Support
2016 Helpline Support
|Birhanu Demissie||Ashley Russell McCaa|
|Caleb Cooley||Barbara Rollins|
|Carolyn E. Hawley||Chip Polston|
|Charles D. Maurer||David Yeager|
|Chelsea Turner||DC Lottery|
|Dorothea (Dot) L. Duda||Don Feeney, in honor of the NCPG staff|
|Indiana Gaming Company, LLC||Elizabeth Lanza|
|Kahlil Philander||Heather Chapman|
|Marc N. Potenza||IGT|
|Mark G. Farrell||Jeff Beck|
|Marty Chirrick||Jim Wuelfing|
|Professional Books||Juan Baez Jr.|
|Ray Pineault||Julie Hynes|
|Roger Olsen||Karen Beauregard Bate|
|Shirley Hoak||Mohegan Sun|
|Steve Kapela||Michael Brubaker|
|Wiley D. Harwell||Reece Middleton|
|Thomas L. Moore|
Kim Meyer and her five children live in a small Long Island community, in the home where she and her high school sweetheart/husband Scott built a full and happy life together over the last 27 years. They co-funded a business, Scott coached the kids’ sports teams, and both were involved in their community, schools and church. Scott is now serving a 4½ – 13-year prison sentence for grand larceny and forgery, for using clients’ funds to chase more than $500,000 in gambling losses.
With New York state recently legalizing online gambling and preparing to build several new casinos in 2017, Kim has decided to go public with their private nightmare, to help raise awareness about gambling addiction and reduce the stigma that persists – lessons she and her family learned through painful personal experience.
Kim’s daughters created this video to raise awareness and let their dad know how much they love and support him.
As Kim tells it, Scott began gambling many years ago for fun, as the vast majority of people do without any negative consequences. For Scott, the fun quickly escalated to a problem. He exhibited symptoms of pathological gambling – symptoms that often go unnoticed by family and friends.
“Unfortunately, gambling is rarely viewed as a disease in society, as drug and alcohol are,” says Kim. “Instead it is seen as a moral issue and a choice. The criminal justice system is ill informed, and prosecutors refused to consider gambling addiction as the explanation for how a smart, loving, hard-working man could sabotage his life and that of his family.”
After Scott was arrested, his doctor recommended a neurological workup, complete with MRI’s. He was found to have bilateral white matter brain tumors, which cause behavioral and cognitive changes such as poor insight, lack of impulse control and poor judgment.
“Further proof that addiction is not a choice, not a character flaw, and not a moral issue,” Kim notes. “In spite of an addiction and underlying brain impairment, Scott went to jail. We are lost without him.”
Scott primarily gambled at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, and from 2008 to 2013, he lost in excess of $300,000 on slot machines there alone. No casino staff discussed his high losses and other behaviors with him, or contacted his family. Instead, they continue to send him promotional mailings with special offers to draw him back.
“To be clear: I am in no way suggesting that Mohegan Sun is responsible for my husband’s gambling disorder, or his physical disability,” says Kim. “What I would like to see, however, is for casinos to use a very small amount of their profits to help raise awareness and to protect others by instituting some simple safeguards, such as:
In spite of extensive evidence of his medical problems and his addiction; being in treatment and rehabilitation for two years; having a new job with a boss willing to testify on his behalf; another judge who was an expert on gambling addiction willing to testify for him; and his steady paying off of bills and beginning to make restitution to his victims; the judge believed that Scott “should have simply stopped when he realized his gambling was a problem” and found him guilty. Kim continues to work with attorneys to get Scott released as soon as possible so he can continue his treatment and recovery, and continue paying back his debts.
“Our family made the decision to share our story and to work side by side with the National Council on Problem Gambling, as well as the New York and Connecticut state councils in an effort to change things for the better. I have faith that together we can encourage gaming executives to increase their commitment to helping families like ours, and save others from this destruction. It’s a promise I’ve made to my children – that something good can come from this.”
We are very grateful to everyone who has given to our Year-end Appeal and Annual Fund.
|Bea Aikens||Jennifer Alfert||Ed Atchison|
|Rick Barnett||Jerry G. Bauerkemper||Jeffrey M. Beck|
|Jon-Paul Bussoli||Daniel Ciabattari||Randy Clemens|
|Caleb Cooley||Carol Cutler||Eric Dresdale|
|Mark Farrell, JD||Don Feeney and Diane Carter||Pat Fowler|
|Roy Gilgallon||Maureen Greeley||Rose Gruber|
|Kristen E. Haflett||Wiley Harwell||Patricia Healy|
|Shirley Hoak||Karen Hogan||Nanette Horner, JD|
|Julie Hynes||Robert Jacobson||Paul Korte|
|Allen Lapin||Deborah Lederman||Jerry Long|
|Ty Lostutter||Stephen Martino||Charles D. Maurer|
|Ashley McCaa||Elizabeth McCall||Maureen Michael|
|Reece Middleton||Kirk Moberg||Thomas Moore|
|Stephanie Norman||Dr. Kahlil Philander||Ray Pineault, JD|
|PK Poggi||Chip Polston||Marc Potenza, PhD, MD|
|Barbara Rollins||Richard Rosenthal, MD||Harry Tang|
|Chelsea Turner||The Warner-Streff Family||David Yeager|
|Chip Lewis Law Firm||Turning Point Alternative
Living Solutions (tpals)
Given in memory of or in honor of:
In memory of Joanna Franklin — by Edward Atchison
Treatment Works – Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance
The good news about gambling addiction is that treatment is effective, and recovery is real and attainable. Minnesotans who have struggled with problem gambling have found hope, and ultimately success. Here are a few such success stories.
The first time I gambled was at Mystic Lake with friends. It was simply a “let’s go out and do something fun” kind of thing. In fact, for many years I was a mere social gambler and assumed it would be like that for my entire life. (Read more)
I had my first big win of $500 as a 7-year-old at a church picnic in a small town in Minnesota. I was like a celebrity for a while after that. I chased that feeling for 34 years, becoming very competitive in sports, games, spelling bees and just about everything else. (Read more)
When I was asked to share my story, I didn’t hesitate. I think it’s so important for people to see that everyday, regular people can have a gambling addiction. And by telling my story I hope I can help others and reduce the shame of compulsive gambling. (Read more)
As you may know, Joanna Franklin unexpectedly passed away on October 5, 2013 from heart failure. Joanna was a friend and colleague to all of us at NCPG, and I believe few have had a more lasting impact on our field. She was mentor to me from the very first day in October 1998 when I started at NCPG. Joanna trained thousands and thousands of counselors and helped set high standards for the profession through her work on certification. In 1979 Joanna was the first clinician hired by the first state-funded gambling treatment program, and she received NCPG’s Goldman Lifetime Award in 1994. Joanna served on the NCPG Board of Directors for over 20 years, representing the Maryland Council on Problem Gambling, which she founded. A very brief bio is below. She was an incredible teacher, a passionate advocate and truly one of the most caring, generous and selfless people I’ve ever known.
– Keith Whyte
Joanna Franklin, MS, NCGC II
Joanna Franklin received her BS and MS degrees from Johns Hopkins University. She was the past president of the Maryland Council on Problem Gambling and treated gamblers and their families since 1979. She designed and delivered clinical training programs in 45 states, 10 Canadian provinces, among 31 tribes and in 9 other countries. She consulted and trained for the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, the Navy, and the Army. She designed and implemented responsible gaming training for state lotteries, race tracks and casinos internationally. She authored two book chapters for Harvard publications on family therapy and teen gambling, and published journal articles on problem gambling treatment.
After three years of my gambling addiction, I lost the family that I was blessed to have. My beautiful wife and children have left me and I have not seen them in over two years. I now live in despair. The high education, good status and jobs that I once had seem to have vanished.
For two years I lived in different shelters, sought food and clothing from hand-me-down sources, yet I continued to gamble every chance I had money, no matter how little it was!
As a full-blown gambler, I resorted to extensive research on the subject of addiction and was able to tie my own addiction to troubled childhood. I found out that my behavior was consistent with my subconscious desire to punish myself and my loved ones. I have not been loving myself and sought to humiliate myself and bring harm to those who loved me, because I thought that I was never worthy of being loved.
This was a first small step in the right direction. It is known as the cognitive approach, and means that I, as a gambler, must have it engraved in my brain, that gambling will never get me even or regain my losses to the casinos. It would only bring me more punishment and it would be sick for me to continue to punish myself and my loved ones. I don’t want to be sick and I am determined to overcome my sickness.
As a gambler, I initially experienced a win and this became a favorable event that stuck in my mind and I didn’t remember the overwhelming majority of unfavorable events of losses. I tended to chase my losses, and promised myself that once I “get even”, or at least regain some of my losses back, I would forever stop gambling. I rationalized my gambling due to the pressure that I received from my creditors wanting to be paid back, but gambling always got me deeper and deeper into more dept. Sometimes I become suicidal and other times I ended up committing fraud and consistently lied to my family, friends and associates. Is gambling worth these kinds of outcomes?!
There is no strategy, there is no scheme that can take any one of us to a point where we can say we can now stop gambling. The only time you win is the time you stay away from further gambling. Conversely, if you submit to your “bad self” or irrational impulses, you give your own stubbornness control over your life and seize to live the life you deserve. Please don’t condemn yourself to a life of despair and worthlessness. Find your “good self” and overcome your troubles by loving yourself and finding strength and honor from your patience and inner spirituality!
G amblers always are trying new ways to make a bet
A ndthen end up getting themselves deeper into debt
M oney is not there when needed to put food on the table
B ecause they throw it away as soon as they’re able
L ook how often this tragic habit affects their health
E ver they constantly strive to create easy wealth
R eally, all that they accomplish is to lose their wives
S urely, there must be a way out that will save their lives.