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Virtual gambling is a fast track to problems

November 27, 2011
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Staff Writer , Salem News

"I'll bet you can't scale that rock formation."

"When I hit the lottery I'm going to help my family with my share of the winnings." The young woman and her friends at work play weekly because "you have to play to win." Her grandfather played for years and never won big. She is well aware that her money might be better spent going into a 401(k) plan.

Every time "Harry" and his wife went grocery shopping he bought a couple of scratch-off lottery tickets from the machine. If he was lucky he got back his investment of the dollar or two he'd spent when he felt lucky.

If you take a gamble and wait long enough, you may win what you're seekingor find you waited too long and lost it all.

For some people, gambling is more than "just" a social activity, an evening out, a set limit of how much you are willing to lose and stopping when you've lost to that amount.

"Gambling," write Cindy Kerber, Ph.D. and Brenda Sullivan, "is wagering something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods." The two women penned the article, "Video Lottery Terminal Gambling" which appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of Paradym magazine.

"Most people who gamble do so recreationally without severe consequences," they continue. "For somegambling be[comes] problematic" The article emphasizes video gambling. "Virtual reel mapping is considered deceptive and connected to rapid onset of pathological gambling." Problems associated with virtual gaming are:

- associated with more rapid onset of gambling problems.

-predominant form of gambling for treatment-seeking pathological gamblers of video slots and video poker, et al.

Virtual Lottery Terminals (VLTs) are quick to affect the senses. A bet can be placed every five seconds. Players, lulled into a numb trance lose track of time and money. Is that really surprising? Have you watched your son or daughter playing video games at home? Have you started to play a game of Mario and lost track of time because you just knew you could win the round if you played long enough?

The authors of the article say that the intentions of the manufacturers of the machines is clear in the 1984 Telnaes patent for virtual reel mapping: "It is important to make a machine that is perceived to present greater chances of payoff than it actually has within the legal limitations that games of chance must operate."

Pathological gambling sometimes clusters with abuses of alcohol and illicit drugs, further complicating the gambling problems. Under the influence of alcohol the gambler will take more risky chances, certain they are about to win.

But many states have brought in VLTs to help increase revenues. If a person is going to gamble anyway, there's no reason not to do this, right? Recovery from gambling may be more difficult when it is everywhere, and those who might gamble only socially may be enticed to gamble more and suffer addiction to it.

"Communities who allow VLTs should also have treatment options available for those who develop pathological gambling," the authors say.

The National Institutes of Health advise that "problematic gambling is more common among those with alcohol use disorders." It is not known why this is so. Both problems-gambling and alcohol-are on the rise in the U.S.

"Addictive behaviors are broadly characterized byan intense desire to satisfy a need, a loss of control over the substance or behavior, compulsive thoughts about the substance or behavior, and engaging in the behavior despite negative consequences."

Alcohol and/or gambling may be an issue for you or someone in your family.

For more information about this topic, contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

 
 

 

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