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Win or lose, it’s how you play

By Staff | Apr 3, 2012

Katie Hunt from West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission spoke to the seniors at the Meck Senior Center about gambling addiction. She is handing out cards with safe gambling tips to Mae Sanguedolce and John Morrison.

MUNCY – With the stakes so high this past weekend showing world record numbers of over half a billion dollars in the Mega Millions lottery, a frenzied fever for purchasing lottery tickets turned millions of Americans into hopeful winners. Someone had to be that number one against the odds of over 700 million. Tickets were being sold at 3.8 million an hour.

“Most people get addicted to the excitement of winning,” said Katie Hunt from West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission who spoke to the seniors at the Meck Senior Center about gambling addiction, including those who are addicted to playing the lottery.

Lotteries and bingo are the biggest forms of gambling in our area that may pose a problem. The casinos are not really so much a problem because most people travel there for a day or two and then come back, Hunt told the seniors. “What are the odds of winning a powerball jackpot?” she asked. The odds of dying from a flesh eating bacteria are higher than winning the lottery she told them. How about receiving a new identity under the witness protection plan? The odds for this are one in 20,000, and one in 220 for writing a bestseller. Being hit by an asteroid or lightning is still better than winning the lottery, one in 700,000. “And how would you like to date a supermodel,” she said. “Those odds are 1 in 88,000. And they are even better to win an academy award.”

It takes one in 775 million to win the lottery.

So playing the lottery should be for entertainment, if you can do it and have fun with it. But for some, it can lead to a tendency toward addiction. If this is the case, it is best to keep safe and not play the lottery she cautioned. Hunt said that there are cases known in Muncy where there are those who continually play the lottery and scratch cards all day long going from the Grange to Smoker’s Express and to Turkey Hill.

“Always set a limit,” she advised and handed everyone a ‘safe gambling tip card.’ She recommends setting aside a set limit of money to use to play the lottery or gamble at the casinos.

Avoid gambling when you’re depressed or feeling down as the chances of losing are higher than winning. “It will cause more addiction.” Don’t think of gambling as a way of making money. “Casinos are set up for you to lose and the odds are always in favor of the house, especially the slot machines,” Hunt explained. They are all electronic and the settings can easily be adjusted. “Don’t try to win back your losses.”

Borrowing money to gamble will only set you up to lose, and the addiction becomes more severe, especially if you keep losing. Take breaks from gambling when visiting the casinos. Do other things such as shopping, taking a tour, going to a show or dining at a nice restaurant. “The longer you are in a casino, the more you will gamble.”

Feeling irritated and becoming secretive about money and finances are some telltale signs of problem gambling as well as neglecting household responsibilities. Many gamble until all their money is gone.

There is a 24 hour hotline for gambling addiction. 1-877-565-2112. Compulsive gambling is a disease similar to alcoholism and drug addiction. “The support hotline is there to get help and support before it’s too late,” concluded Hunt who is a counselor with West Branch Drug and Alcohol, funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Health. “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”

In the meantime, under Governor Corbett’s leadership, the commonwealth has issued a Request for Qualifications to pursue a private management agreement for the Pennsylvania Lottery. According to Corbett, should the state decide to move forward with accepting bids, qualified private sector firms will compete to offer new ideas to maximize the Lottery’s performance and increase revenues that support programs serving older Pennsylvanians.