A Black Woman's Reflections on Casino Gambling

January 14, 2016

The Powerball: winners and losers

Filed under: powerball — Sandy Adell @ 12:00 p01
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Well, the billion dollar powerball frenzy has come to an end. Perhaps now the dreamers will step back into reality and use the money they spend on lottery tickets to build some real wealth. This might have been fun for millions of people, but for millions of other folks, those near the bottom of America’s economic ladder, all this did was feed their illusions of getting rich quick or at the very least, getting out of debt.

I share with Les Bernal, director of STOP PREDATORY GAMBLING, a serious concern that this lottery has done great damage to people who are struggling with gambling addictions. Also, since the lottery is generally marketed to people who can least afford to participate in this predatory game of chance, it’s contributing to the economic inequality we’re now experiencing.

As Bernal remarked in an article for Marketwatch by Quentin Fottrell titled “Why the $1.6 Billion Powerball is Everything that’s Wrong with America,” “There is not a single act of government today that promotes more inequality of opportunity. . . . This is government-sponsored gambling. It’s a ‘Hail Mary’ investment strategy for the poor.”

I agree with Les Bernal that there is something terribly wrong with a society that markets this kind of “fun” to its citizens in the interest of generating new revenue for education, social services, etc.

Dr. Boyce Watkins, who has been working tirelessly to educate the African American community about how to increase our wealth, explained in a recent podcast that in most cases, “people who win lotteries buy lots of tickets.” Dr. Watkins doesn’t buy them. He knows that they’re a waste of money.

Dr. Watkins also commented on why lottery winners often go broke. He argues that “financial outcomes depend on our habits.” If we’re in the habit of spending wildly and not saving, and buying lots and lots of lottery ticekts or engaging in other forms of gambling, then those habits continue.

The people who went out and bought tickets in a frenzy over the past couple of weeks subsidized those who won. And the real winner is the U.S. government which gets an enormous cut, right off the top. As far as I’m concerned, this billion dollar powerball frenzy has turned into the biggest con game the “world” has ever seen.

Sandra Adell, author: Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen: A Memoir

January 13, 2016

Billion Dollar Lottery Frenzy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandy Adell @ 12:00 p01
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It has been over a year and a half since I posted anything on this blog, not because I’m no longer interested or concerned about the negative effects gambling is having on our communities, but rather because I needed to take time off to complete some other, unrelated academic projects. But now that the country seems to be caught up in billion dollar lottery frenzy, I cannot remain quiet.

Let me be frank: behind the excitement is a great deal of suffering. As I’ve said time and time again, in order for anyone to WIN this kind of money, millions of people have to LOSE. For the past week, I’ve watched in dismay as smiling news anchors, including Lester Holt, whom I absolutely adore, remind us that the lottery is now over a billion dollars, the largest prize the world has ever seen.

The non- stop media cover is encouraging Americans everywhere to go out and spend their hard earned money on lottery tickets despite the incredible odds that are stacked against us winning. Ticket buyers are encouraged to talk on air about what they’ll do with all that money. They all have lofty dreams of helping make the world a better place after they’ve satisfied their own dreams and fantasies.

What we aren’t hearing about are the people who are losing what little they have chasing these pipe dreams, people who now are rushing to the nearest liquor store or other lottery sales outlet with their pay checks and social security checks, and whatever other money they can muster up, even though they can hardly pay their rent or keep their utilities on.

I’m sorry to be such a party pooper. Call me Sandy Buzz Kill, but this is what’s behind the smiles, the frenzy, the pipe dreams. What disturbs me most is that there is barely a whimper from people whom other people listen to when it comes to our finances. So far, I’ve heard only one person speak out: Mellody Hobson.

Although she commands attention as a regular commentator about financial issues, she was featured for a brief moment, or maybe fifteen seconds, this week on one of the network stations during which she raised objections to what is happening with this lottery game. I don’t remember what station she was on, so I’ve posted comments she made for a December, 2012 article titled “Is Playing the Lottery for Losers” in Black Enterprise online.

Sandra Adell, author: Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen: A Memoir.

August 9, 2014

R. J. Reynolds and the $23.6 billion verdict

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandy Adell @ 12:00 p08
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The fallout from the $23.6 billion dollar verdict against R.J. Reynolds tobacco company that Ms. Cynthia Robinson recently won for her husband, Michael Johnson’s death from smoking should make the owners and operators of casinos and their allies, including our elected public officials take notice.

Like the tobacco industry, the casino gambling industry refuses to acknowledge that one of its products, slot machine gambling may be hazardous to your health. Each year, thousands of people are becoming addicted to casino gambling, which continues to be promoted as a harmless, even a glamorous, form of entertainment.

Lives are being destroyed as a result of the encroachment of slot machine gambling everywhere, not only in casinos, but in restaurants and taverns, as our elected officials continue to encourage us to lose our money, and our lives in an activity that doesn’t produce anything that contributes to the public good.

In a response to the R.J. Reynolds verdict, Dr. Boyce Watkins, a professor of finance and the author of Black American Money: How Black Power Can Thrive in a Capitalist Society, wrote the following comment in his blog:

“Other institutions that could be compared to the tobacco industry might be the prison industrial complex and slavery itself. In both cases, a harmful business model was allowed to exist because there was so much money involved that even those on the inside of these capitalist behemoths knew they were living a lie. But once the money gets that big, even those running the economic machine are almost entirely helpless when it comes to correcting it.”

Dr. Watkins is an activist and one of a very few African Americans to hold a Ph.D. in finance. He regularly writes about issues pertaining to the financial health of the black community. But he curiously is silent about the gambling industry, which like the tobacco industry, is one of those “capitalist behemoths” with a harmful business model” that exists because there is so much money involved.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, casino gambling is making a few wealthy white men even richer at the expense of millions of poor people by promoting the dream of great jackpot that is just a bet max button away.

Sandra Adell, Author, CONFESSIONS OF A SLOT MACHINE QUEEN: A MEMOIR

June 26, 2014

Barbara DeFoe Whitehead and Gambling’s Effects on Poor People

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandy Adell @ 12:00 p06
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In a recent Op-Ed article for the New York Times, Barbara Defoe Whitehead very succinctly wrote about the negative impacts gambling is having on our communities. What we need now is for more people to voice their concerns as this high tech gold rush continues to proliferate throughout the country (and globally), wreaking havoc in its wake, especially on poor people.

Sandra Adell, Author, Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen: A Memoir

June 11, 2014

Slot Machines in a Dolton, Illinois, Retirement Home?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandy Adell @ 12:00 p06
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It looks like the gambling industry and people who have the power to inundate us with more and more slot machines don’t think that any place is off limits, especially if they can convince us that we need to generate new revenue in order to save us from financial ruin.

The latest news is that the Dorchester Senior Center in Dolton, Illinois, is slated to get five slot machines. The reasoning behind the slots is that the Center, which is home to about forty very low income residents, has lost money over the years and is a burden on taxpayers.

As I’ve said time and time again, it does not take much common sense to figure out that just in economic terms, encouraging gambling as a way to generate new revenue for counties, states, and in this case, a senior citizens’ retirement home, is a bad idea.

But there is a point where ethical and moral suasion should hold the day, and the idea of turning a senior citizen’s home into a mini-casino is at that point. Why put these machines in a place where people are already struggling to make it from one day to the next? People who care about other people should be outraged!

In her study of slot machine gambling in Las Vegas titled Addiction by Design, Natasha Schull has shown how slot machines are designed to get us hooked, addicted to gambling. If only we could get our public officials to read just a few chapters of the book! Maybe then they will rethink what they are about to unleash onto the people at the Dorchester Senior Center.

Sandra Adell, Author, CONFESSIONS OF A SLOT MACHINE QUEEN: A MEMOIR

 

 

May 17, 2014

How Casinos are Pushing their Own Luck

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandy Adell @ 12:00 p05

When I first got hijacked by slot machine gambling in April, 2005, it was difficult to find information about problem gambling. Today, as the stakes get higher and higher for states that are looking for an easy way to solve their financial problems, organizations such as NO CASINOS are creating documentaries that show how the casino industry almost never delivers on its promises to the people in the communities they invade and monopolize.

A half-hour documentary titled “Pushing Luck” that focuses on Florida and Atlantic City, New Jersey, gives an excellent historical overview of how this new gold rush, as I call casino gambling and particularly slot machine gambling, began its great expansion across the country. It also looks at the human damage it is leaving in its wake.

Sandra Adell, Author, CONFESSIONS OF A SLOT MACHINE QUEEN: A MEMOIR

Chicago Casino Blues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandy Adell @ 12:00 p05
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Efforts to bring casino gambling to Chicago is gaining momentum. This time around, the gambling moguls are talking about building the world’s biggest casino in Chicago. The usual arguments are being bandied around as to why Chicago needs a casino: it will create thousands of new jobs, generate new revenue, and attract more tourists, as the people who were interviewed about it on Chicago Tonight on April 16, 2014, explained.

And as usual, people who are opposed to a Chicago casino on grounds other than that it will hurt other forms of gambling, especially horse racing, barely got their voices heard.

That’s why I’m proposing that all anti-casino advocates and casino-gambling junkies, those who can’t stop, and those like me who did, should follow the lead of Clem Marino up in Saratoga, New York, and get together and compose a bluesy blues song and start singing!

It could go something like this: “We ain’t no suckers/We ain’t no jokes/We don’t want a Casino in Chicago/ Nope, Nope, Nope.” Add a harmonica and a blues guitar and give it a beat and then take it to the streets!

After all, Chicago is the home of the blues, and if this casino gets built, a whole lot of people will be singing some really sad blues.

Sandra Adell, Author: CONFESSIONS OF A SLOT MACHINE QUEEN: A MEMOIR

January 11, 2014

How Malcolm Ramsey won a lottery and then lost it all.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandy Adell @ 12:00 p01
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Malcolm Ramsey is a 55-year-old man suffering from schizophrenia and living in an assistant living facility in Tampa, Florida.

Ramsey has been diagnosed as being unable to care for himself and his finances and has a guardian. Yet he regularly bought lottery tickets and recently won $403,000, which he lost in just four weeks on shopping sprees he was unable to control, especially after people started showing up at the facility to “visit” him.

When his caretakers and the facility administrators noticed how much new stuff he had accumulated and the number of people who had suddenly started visiting him, they stepped in, but he had already run out of money.

Now the government wants to stop his benefits because of his win. As for Malcolm, his condition is so severe that he apparently is indifferent to what’s happening to him. According to the article about Ramsey, the police were called and have been able to recover some of the money, but most of it is gone.

One of the things that sticks out in this article is the following statement: “Anyone found to have taken advantage of Ramsey during the ordeal may be subject to criminal charges. It is illegal to exploit a disabled or elderly person in Florida, which has a large senior population. Violating this law can lead to up to 30 years in prison.”

I find this ironic since legal gambling in any form exploits disabled and elderly people. If you don’t believe me, go visit a casino, especially during the day, and see for yourself.

Sandra Adell, Author, CONFESSIONS OF A SLOT MACHINE QUEEN: A MEMOIR

January 5, 2014

RE: Alicia Denice Brown

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandy Adell @ 12:00 p01
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I want to apologize to Alicia Denice Brown if my remarks in my post on January 3, 2014, have caused her harm. But the fact is that the story about how she left her four year old daughter in her vehicle while she gambled in a Maryland casino received national attention in the major media and more people saw it than will ever read my blog. Still, I am posting the following appeal from Mike, which gives some insight into who she is. Mike’s response suggests that there are people who care deeply about her and will see that she gets whatever help she needs to put this behind her and go on with her life.

From Mike:
“I happen to know the accused and her daughter. While she made an inexcusable choice to leave her daughter in a cold car, she is a very successful college educated black woman who happens to have some severe psychological issues. She was actually in the mall the majority of the time and is not addicted to gambling as the news outlets would make it seem. Please do not use the actions of a very mentally unhealthy person to push anti gaming propaganda.”

As Mike remarks, Alicia is a successful college educated black woman; so am I. I’m a senior professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Like Alicia, I was arrested, but not for leaving a child in my car; my children are adults and on their own.

I was arrested for driving very drunk on my way to Ho Chunk Casino in Sauk County, Wisconsin, about 45 minutes from my home in Madison. Had I not been arrested and taken off the road, I might have done harm to myself and others. I might have injured or killed someone and ended up sitting in a prison cell. I’m grateful for the officer who arrested me. It’s what got me into counseling so that I could deal with some of my own mental and emotional issues.

Writing about Alicia and all the other people I’ve written about in this blog isn’t just about anti-gambling propaganda; it’s about helping to save lives, the lives of the many black women who are getting “hooked,” if addiction is too strong a word, on slot machine gambling and putting ourselves and our loved ones in great danger. If nothing else, I hope that other black women read my blog, watch the news stories about Alicia, and realize that they are not alone. Somehow we need to connect with each other and support each other as we try to heal ourselves from whatever is causing us to spin out of control.

Sandra Adell, Author, CONFESSIONS OF A SLOT MACHINE QUEEN: A MEMOIR.

January 4, 2014

Harry Esteve and the Oregon Lottery

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandy Adell @ 12:00 p01
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It takes courage to report honestly about gambling, considering how it has penetrated just about every nook and cranny of our society and is backed by many of our public officials and is perfectly legal.

That there are victims is apparently of little or no importance to the people who keep telling us that the revenue from gambling is a big boost to our economy. After all, we might get a bit of a break on our property taxes, that is, if we own any property.

I think my tax break was about $300 last year, hardly enough to account for all the suffering this unrestrained gambling is bringing to people everywhere.

That’s why I’m so grateful to Harry Esteve, a senior political reporter for the Oregonian, for his excellent series of articles on the lottery and slot machine gambling in Oregon. I hope that our elected officials will take the time to read and maybe, just maybe, think twice before they approve more licenses for slot machines and casinos in an already over-saturated gambling market.

Sandra Adell, Author, CONFESSIONS OF A SLOT MACHINE QUEEN: A MEMOIR

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