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When Gambling Becomes Obsessive

By Chuckmonster on Monday, 25th July 2005 8:39am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 0


For a man who hasn't bet a nickel since 1989, Bruce Roberts spends a lot of time in casinos. He's rarely there alone, however. He usually has an escort walk him through--the better to ensure that he doesn't succumb to the sweet swish of the cards or the signature rattle of the dice. A onetime compulsive gambler, Roberts, 62, weathered his years of wagering better than many. He never lost his wife or his home--although he has refinanced the house nine times. "Cards and Vegas were the two biggest things in my life," he says. "I'm a helluva poker player, but I have one serious flaw: I can't get my ass off the chair."

When Roberts visits a casino these days, it's as executive director of the California Council on Problem Gambling, an organization that helps gaming halls run responsible gambling programs. The rest of the time, he's back in the office, overseeing a crisis hotline. Last year his service took 3,400 calls from gamblers who had lost an average of $32,000 each. That's $109 million of evaporated wealth reported to just one hotline in just one year.

And California is not alone. More than 50 million people describe themselves as at least occasional poker players. Millions turn on the TV each week to watch one of eight scheduled poker shows--to say nothing of the 1 million who will tune in to ESPN's broadcast of this year's World Series of Poker.

[ Later on, the story says: "In one study, researchers at Brown University found that while gamblers take an average of 312 years to develop a problem when they're playing traditional games like cards, slot-machine players fast-forward their addiction, getting hooked in just over a year."

Anybody know anyone who's pushing the big Four Oh Oh ? - Ed ]



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