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updated: 5/22/2011 9:37 AM

Addiction expert: Expansion will hurt addicts

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  • Anita Bedell

    Anita Bedell

By Anita Bedell, Executive Director, Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addiction Problems

Pathological gamblers engage in destructive behavior: they commit crimes, they run up large debts, they damage relationships with family and friends, and they kill themselves. With the increased availability of gambling and new gambling technologies, pathological gambling has the potential to become even more widespread, according to the National Opinion Research Council report to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. The presence of a gambling facility within 50 miles roughly doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers.

Individuals who live within 10 miles of a casino or in a disadvantaged neighborhood are more likely to experience problem gambling, according to the Research Institute on Addictions ...

Additional studies found problem drinkers are 23 times more likely to have a gambling problem than individuals with no alcohol problem, and the rate of pathological gambling is higher among individuals with lower incomes and some minorities Pathological gamblers adversely affect 10 to 15 other people, including friends, relatives, and employers. People who were formerly trusted employees and law-abiding citizens have been convicted of embezzlement, forgery, fraud, and bank robbery to finance their gambling ...

There are currently 8,201 gamblers on the self-exclusion list at Illinois casinos -- people whose gambling is so out of control they do not want to enter a casino and could forfeit winnings and be arrested if caught. Others are experiencing problems and still gambling. The average cost to society per pathological gambler is $13,586 per year, according to Professor Earl Grinols Problem gambling and addiction will increase with gambling expansion. Legislators and local officials need to consider the cost of addiction and harm to society, and not merely look at revenue projections. Let elected officials know the cost of more racetrack casinos and a casino in Chicago is too high.