Home > Casinos, Ohio Politics > Why Ohioans ought to vote YES on Issue 3 – Part I – (Y’know .. the OTHER cost)

Why Ohioans ought to vote YES on Issue 3 – Part I – (Y’know .. the OTHER cost)

27 October 2009

[Elder’s Note:  This is the first of a multipart series that seeks to answer the question, “Why ought Ohioans vote ‘yes’ on Issue 3, regarding casinos?”  To do that, I really think we need to first examine unacceptable reasons to vote ‘yes,’ on Issue 3, don’t you? ]

From the Akron Beacon Journal:

“Let’s assume, as do Issue 3 proponents, that some of the Ohioans going to gamble in other locations might choose an in-state casino instead. Even so, the high social costs of gambling must be taken into account. Citing American Gaming Association estimates, about 80,000 Ohioans would be at risk for gambling addiction, which triggers substance abuse, divorce, bankruptcy and crime.

Treatment for gambling addiction is about $10,000 per person, according to gambling studies, but under the tax-sharing formula in Issue 3, the Hiram researchers calculated that about $163 per person would be available. Studies in other locations have indicated that for every $1 in benefits, gambling costs $2 for the larger community.”

Treatment .. on average, $10K per person, you say?   Gee, are there any other costs associated with problem gambling? 

Well, I guess we really should bring up, you know, some of those other costs, that don’t fit too nicely into a robocall.  Here is one article that talks about people who probably shouldn’t live within an hour’s drive of a casino:

“Michael Osborne once figured he could make a living by betting on sports.

“Winning 700, 800 bucks at 15 when I was working in the grocery store making $200 a week, I thought I was a big deal. It was nice walking around in high school with that wad in your pocket,” recalled Osborne, now 37. “That’s the hook, line and sinker. I’m thinking, ‘This is easy. I know sports, I love sports. I might never have to work again.”‘

He ended up $500,000 in debt, in legal trouble and ultimately, suicidal.

“I lost everything,” Osborne said. “Cars, family, house, career. There was nothing left for me to lose.”

With treatment, Osborne shed his gambling addiction. Now, instead of seeking to support himself by wagering on sports, he’s dedicated his life to helping others with the same misguided notion.

Osborne is owner and executive director of Baltimore-based Harbour Pointe, a residential treatment facility that is solely dedicated to curing addiction to gambling. Founded in 1985, Harbour Pointe treated 104 people last year, including women and CEOs.

“I’ve handled everyone from millionaires to people whose parents, uncles, brothers and friends chipped in to get them a month of care,” said Dr. Jack Vaeth, a board certified psychiatrist and a member of the Harbour Pointe medical staff.

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission estimates that each year an average of $230 billion is illegally wagered on sports in the United States. A study by the National Institute of Mental Health concluded 4.2 million Americans are addicted to gambling, 60 percent of whom have yearly incomes under $25,000.

“Gamblers are difficult to treat. People love to bet on football because they think they know the game and believe they can beat the odds,” said Jeffrey M. Beck, managerial assistant at the New Jersey-based Council of Compulsive Gambling.

Osborne’s first experience with Harbour Pointe came when he was 19. His parents bailed him out of a $6,000 debt to a bookie under the stipulation he receive treatment for his problem.

“They brought me here and dropped me off. But once the bookie was taken care of, I felt like I had learned my lesson,” Osborne said. “I told myself I would never get to that point again. I started calling in bets from here. I did what I needed to do to get through it and that was the end.”

Only it wasn’t. Osborne got a job in real estate and stole from customers’ escrow accounts to pay off debts to offshore bookmakers. In August 2003, facing jail time after violating probation, he was homeless and walking along the side of railroad tracks trying to decide what to do next.

“There was nothing else to live for,” he said. “It was either going to be death or one last-ditch effort of getting help and trying to come out of this.”

He returned to Harbour Pointe, finally righted himself and, in 2006, took control of the facility.
Osborne receives personal and vocational support from LeRoy Yegge, his best friend and Harbour Pointe’s business development manager. The 43-year-old Yegge has a story that’s very similar to Osborne’s.

“I started pitching coins at 7 years old after school. I was winning and feeling good about it,” Yegge said. “I went to the racetrack at 12 years old. Went with $20 and walked out with $180. It was the greatest thing I’d ever seen.”

He got a job at the track at 15, and in high school was booking bets for his teachers to feed his habit.

“I’d bet on sports, horses, cards,” Yegge recalled. “If there were two flies in a room, I’d bet on which one landed first.”

Yegge remained afloat until 2002, when he stole his wife’s identity and maxed out her credit cards to pay off his gambling tab. She threw him out of the house, and Yegge was living on the streets of Baltimore before he finally checked himself into Harbour Pointe.

Having battled their own demons, Osborne and Yegge know firsthand of gambling’s addictive power. Summoned by desperate families, they have traveled as far as California for “an intervention.”

“We go out with two plane tickets and book three to come back,” Osborne said.
“There’s an immediate connection. I say, ‘I’m not a doctor and I won’t pretend to be one. But I can tell you where you’ve been, where you’re at now and where you still have to go.’ That gets their attention.”

About 93 percent of those visited return to Harbour Pointe even though the eight-bed facility is not cheap: A five-week session costs $20,000.

A man who cured his gambling addiction at Gamblers Anonymous scoffed at the price.

“It’s a moneymaking deal,” said Chris, who would not give his last name. “If people really want help, they can come to GA for nothing.”

Harbour Pointe officials insist the individual treatment they offer is far more effective. Each patient receives one-on-one attention in meetings with the medical staff and former gamblers such as Osborne and Yegge.

“What we find is that gamblers are manipulators and liars,” Osborne said, “so if you put them in groups all day what you do is give them a path to not look at their own issues.”  “

Be sure to read the whole thing. 

Okay, so maybe there are, y’know, “other” costs associated with gambling.  But if we can write the gambling addicts off as losers anyhow, and not think about the people who have been directly hurt by them, surely there are other valid – nay, attractive – reasons to invite casinos into the state?

Just how many people on average ought not to be within 60 miles of a casino? 

Well, according to several studies, the combined numbers for Type 3 (pathological gambling) and Type 2 (problem gambling, or people apt to become pathological gamblers) range from 2-13%, depending on who is doing the study  (Table 3-3).  Buuuut, let’s call it an even 5%. 

How bad can this problem be for that 5%?  Well, let’s see :

“With the spread of gambling, the number of problem gamblers grows, accompanied by an increase of crimes related to the gambling. In the typical case, as losses mount and access to money is limited, many problem gamblers resort to crime in order to pay debts and/or obtain money to chase losses through more gambling (Meyer and Fabian, 1992). Most of these crimes committed by problem gamblers do not involve violence. However, some crimes, such as robbery and breaking and entering, may result in serious injury. Interpersonal conflicts over gambling may also result in violence. For example, if there is conflict in the home about the financial consequences of gambling or there are unpaid debts owed to individuals in the community.

Lesieur’s (1995) survey of Gamblers Anonymous members found that 46% admitted to some illegal act, including writing bad checks, stealing or embezzling from their employers. Blaszczynski and Silove (1996) noted that criminal behavior among adolescent problem gamblers may be more prevalent than among adult problem gamblers, in part because youths have few options for obtaining funds and greater susceptibility to social pressure among gambling peers.

A 2004 study by the National Institute of Justice explored the link between gambling and crime found significantly more problem gambling among arrestees than in the general population. The arrestees interviewed had high levels of criminal activity related to pathological gambling. The percentage of problem gamblers was 3 to 5 times higher than in the general population. Nearly a third of the arrestees who identified as problem gamblers had committed robbery in the last year and 13 % had assaulted someone for money…. “

In other words, those poor souls who can be classified either as problem or pathological gamblers, tend to do a lot of damage to people around them. 

Okay, so basically, get casinos, you’re going to have problems with gambling addiction. 

Cost of doing business?  Nyeh, maybe;  Or, maybe not.  We’ll continue to look at this question throughout the week. 

Stay tuned, Oysters !   😉

– Elder

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Categories: Casinos, Ohio Politics
  1. Pearls Before Swine
    27 October 2009 at 5:00 PM

    Hmmm… interesting headline followed by several of many reasons to vote NO. I will try to “stay tuned.”

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