By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Lights and pace part of the lure

While there is no such thing as a textbook gambler, Carolyn Simeone, a treatment specialist with Yamhill County Health and Human Services, says there are commonalities. And she said most people would be surprised to learn they include a clean record, a strong work ethic and a sense of humor.

Opportunities to gamble confront all of them on a virtually daily basis. It could be a casual bingo game, a casino night fundraiser, an office sports pool. It could be scratch-off tickets at the corner market or video poker machines at the neighborhood tavern.

For most of us, that’s not a big deal. But for problem gamblers, it’s a slippery slope.

For them, Simeone said, it can quickly lead to betting the mortgage payment — and losing it, of course, as they tend to play until they’re tapped out.

The social aspect is a big draw for many people, especially initially. But later, problem gamblers tend to become more and more isolated, as gaming takes over their lives and shuts out everything and everyone else.

“Bars can contribute to a significant social life,” Simeone said. “Some people think of the bar as a community center, particularly in rural, more isolated areas. It can be a place to connect.”

But the alcohol component will inevitably suck some people in and the gaming component will suck others in.

“You have to have video poker, right?” Simeone said.

She said that represents one of the biggest challenges to addicts in recovery. They miss the social aspect of stopping in for some video poker with friends, but dare not indulge, lest they relapse. 

“It’s not just the poker they’re addicted to,” she said. “It’s the lights, the pace, the thrill of it all.”

The casinos use that as part of their allure, and it works. In fact, it works all too well on certain people. And it’s hard to predict which ones until it’s too late.

For more information, Simeone  can be reached at 503-434-7527
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