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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

The Price of Addictive Behavior

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Part of becoming an adult is being able to decipher and filter through your own emotions and particular circumstances and take control of your actions; accepting the differences between right and wrong and choosing the correct path. Anyone can make the useless statement, “I accept responsibility for my actions,” but to fully accept responsibility is another thing entirely.

Think back over the last few years of your life and do a double check to see if you’ve lived up to a standard of recognizing that no one can make the rules for your day but you. And once you make the rules, enforcement is part of the package deal.

Our society is fast forwarding into an arena that is filled with the cracks of ‘anything goes’ and it is threatening to explode into monumental caverns that tear apart the basic belief of right and wrong. Yes, we are victims of reality TV shows, poor economic times, an uncertain future, and Facebook but that is no excuse for an individual to put on a blindfold and dance around an issue because it’s self serving.

Throw addictions into the mix of ‘anything goes’ and total insanity reigns since addictive behavior is a bundle of agony that can destroy not only your life, but the lives of people you love. Facing those addictions and coming to grips with them can be an almost insurmountable obstacle.

PS-S-S-ST! You’re on a poker website right now, you’ve probably figured out this is about gambling addictions.

If you have a gambling addiction, and play at a land-based casino, check to see if they have a self-exclusion program, speak with a casino host/management and sign-up. Remember that you are another face in the crowd when you walk through the door and unless you use a slot card when you play, no one will know you are in jeopardy of losing your money and most importantly, your self-control.

But don’t stop there, join Gamblers Anonymous, ask for help from your friends and family, or your church group. Work at removing the triggers that send you into self-destruct mode. It’s not an easy road but seeking counseling is much less costly than just letting your inner demons have their way.

If you’re playing online, almost every gambling site has a ‘Responsible Gaming’ section; look at PokerStars, PartyPoker, William Hill, to name a few, for their helpful links. They offer links to Gamcare, Gambling Therapy, Gamblock, and have ‘Self-Exclusion’ tools on their websites. PokerStars offers ‘cooling off’ periods with varying time limits.

The American Gaming Association offers information and training to casino properties and gaming companies nationwide to help increase awareness and promote responsible gaming.

Once you’ve taken the steps to reclaim your life, you set a boundary for yourself. Stay with it! There are countless lawsuits in the media of addicted gamblers that have sought self-exclusion, signed the papers or notified management of their wishes, and continue to gamble. Those same addicted gamblers then try to put the blame on the casino, filing lawsuits to reclaim lost money, and blaming the establishment for not babysitting regulating their actions. One report states that U.S. courts have ruled it is not the responsibility of a casino to have a ‘duty of care’ and it’s not up to casino to stop compulsive gamblers from playing at their establishment.

It’s reasonable to assume that most of the world’s population has an addiction but most have no recourse, other than to learn to deal with it, seek help - whether professional or a select group, or die trying. After all, who would they take to court for helping them feed their addiction?

It is this writer’s conclusion that the courts should go one step further and force a known gambler that has taken a self-exclusion oath to take responsibility for their actions in entering a casino. If the casino discovers a known gambler with a self-exclusion oath on the floor, the gambler is expelled for breaking their part of the contract and given warning. If it happens a second time, the police are called, the known gambler is arrested and must go to court to face charges.

In recent news Monsignor Kevin McAuliffe, from a northwest Las Vegas parish was sentenced to three years in federal prison and ordered to pay back $650,000 on Friday, January 13th. McAuliffe blamed his eight year parish looting of the votive candle, prayer, and gift shop funds on a gambling addiction.

U.S. District Judge James Mahan faulted McAuliffe for “hedging his bet” by blaming his looting on a gambling addiction.

Yes, the verdict is in, this writer agrees with Judge James Mahan’s decision.

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