Celebrate & Inspire

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

Abigail Ripberger AGEM
Anonymous Allen Lapin
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
Richard Wilson
Thomas L. Moore
Warner-Streff Family
Chelsea Turner
Maureen Greeley

The Meyer Family Shares Their Story to Raise Awareness About Gambling Addiction and its Consequences

Mayer family 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.

Mayer family 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.”

Mayer family 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:

  • Use casino reward card tracking systems, not just to make offers to entice gamblers to continue gambling, but to identify problem gamblers and reach out to them and their families;
  • Work with gaming industry leaders and state and national gambling prevention groups to create state certification programs that train casino employees to recognize problem gamblers, to identify people who are obviously in trouble, and to offer assistance. As a bartender is required to stop serving a problem drinker, so too should casino employees know when to intervene;
  • Take identified problem gamblers like Scott off their promotional mailing lists;
    Provide 1% – 2% of their profits to support organizations that offer treatment and other assistance for problem gamblers and their families.

mayer-family-groupIn 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.”

View (and share) the Mayer family video here.

2015 Annual Fund

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.

Ann’s Story

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)

Sally’s Story

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)

Christine’s Story

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)

Celebrating Joanna Franklin

Joanna FranklinAs 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.

Real Voices

  • After 2 semesters in college, I am wondering where all my money has gone. I would tell myself time and time again to stop betting, whether it be online poker, blackjack, or sports bets. A few days later I would always be back placing more bets and telling myself that if I lose this time I would be done forever. I’d win big a couple times, but only to increase my betting size and lose it all days later, and still bet more money. The highs were nice, but the lows were horrible. After losing everything in my checking account I began taking money out of my savings account thinking that I was one big win away from winning it all back. I knew I had a gambling problem, but as long as I wasn’t going into debt I tricked myself into thinking that it was okay. I ran myself into a 721 dollar debt on my credit card. There really was no further in debt I could go because the card had a limit of 1000. After being off great financially 9 months ago, I am now completely broke. It really is shameful to think that after I calculated it all up, I had lost about 7000 dollars in savings due to gambling. It still makes me sick just thinking about it. I finally told my parents that I had been losing a moderate amount of money in gambling, even though I could never tell them how much I actually lost. I told them I had lost 3000,and that even shocked them a lot. I haven’t gambled for a month, even though I have been tempted to do so many times with money from my job. I let my gambling go from betting around 50 dollars weekly on online-poker to betting 300 dollars 2-3 times a week on any sports game I could find. I hope I never gamble again.
  • Hi I’m 12 years old and have three sisters. And well my dad is addicted to gambling. My mom and dad have been fighting ever since he started his problem which is about three years ago and now it scares me to think that they might get a divorce. Well finally after talking everything out my dad has agreed to find some help so I decided to help them find some help.  
  • Imagine that your own 11 year old daughter approaches you and says “Dad, I want to talk to you please”. You say, “Sure honey, what is it?” She then asks your other 8 year old daughter and your 4 year old son to leave her room so she can plead with you to stop gambling. Imagine that you see her tears and then you tell her that nothing causing her to cry would be worth doing again; yet you go and do it over and over again. Have you not, at that stage, lost your human side out to a formidable foe?!

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!

  • I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to tell my husband that once again we have a major credit card bill on the way. I swore to him that it would never happen again. I believed my vow, especially when I saw how hard he had to work to pay off the last debt I ran up. How can I tell him I’ve done it again? I lied about where I was and would rather die than tell him the truth again. I won’t blame him if he leaves me. Losing money is one thing, losing my husband, well I can’t believe I took that chance. I hope this helps someone like me out there. Now I have to make that phone call to the help line. I can’t say good luck, but I can wish you well.
  • Greetings, I’m a compulsive gambler. I’ve been in the Las Vegas Gambler’s Anonymous program since 1992. I’ve gone out there countless times to try to prove I can gamble like others. I am currently living my program, and am very happy.
  • Good Morning. Here’s something for your real voices section.  When I travel I make the mistake of thinking I can casually gamble in Indian casinos playing the slots.  On occasion I’ve won really big, but the net is not very good.  It’s pretty clear to me from your self test that I have a gambling problem.  Thank you for your web site and for the information you have.  I’m going to get help now.

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.