The Effects of Gambling on Families

Submitted by Sarah Sense-Wilson, Problem Gambling Coordinator, Tulalip Family Services 

Why Can’t They Just Stop?

Most people with gambling problems slowly lose control over how much time and money they spend gambling. They focus only on gambling and ignore other responsibilities and the harm their gambling causes. Some people who gamble excessively do not connect their life problems to their gambling. Others have tried to cut down or stop before, but have failed. Now they feel irritable and upset whenever they try to change.

Most people who gamble excessively have mixed feelings about gambling. They know they are causing problems for the people they love. They may become anxious and unhappy, and often hate themselves. But the urge to gamble is too great to resist. They feel they can’t give up on all the time, money and emotion they have put into gambling. They can’t accept that they will never win back what they have lost.

Other people promise to quit, but can’t. They fear their loved ones will find them out. This drives them deeper into hiding and further into debt. They keep hoping a big win will end their problems. The first step for people with gambling problems is to give up on their losses and their hope of a big win. Then they can begin to regain control over their gambling and their lives.

Impact on Families

You probably already know how much gambling can hurt families. Families may be affected in different ways. Gambling problems can be hidden for a long time, so many families are shocked when they learn how much money has been lost. Some relationships do not survive a gambling problem. Other families struggle through difficulties and grow stronger together. People can and do recover from problem gambling, but it takes time and patience to work through all the issues. Don’t make important decisions about your relationship while you are under stress. Take time to think things through, and consider the feelings and needs of the whole family. Counselling can help you explore your options and decide what will work best for you and your family.

How are families affected?

Money Problems- The most common problem is the loss of money. Savings, property or belongings may suddenly be lost. This kind of money crisis makes the family feel scared, angry and betrayed.

 

Emotional Problems and Isolation

Gambling problems cause strong feelings. Family members may feel ashamed, hurt, afraid, angry, confused and distrustful. These feelings make it harder to solve problems. The person who gambles may even deny that there is a problem.

Isolation is another problem:

  • Many partners do not want to be emotionally or physically close with the person who has hurt them.
  • Many people affected by gambling problems avoid other people, because they feel ashamed. This makes it hard to get love and support.
  • Friendships may end because of unpaid debts.

Physical and Mental Health

The stress of gambling problems sometimes causes health problems, for both the person who gambles and the family. This can include anxiety, depression and stress-related problems such as poor sleep, ulcers, bowel problems, headaches and muscle pains.

Burnout

Many families under stress have trouble coping. One member may try to keep things in control by taking on more tasks. This can lead to burnout. Family members often focus on the person with gambling problems, and forget to take care of themselves or to have fun.

Impact on Children

When a parent or caregiver has a gambling problem, children can feel forgotten, depressed and angry. They may believe they caused the problem and that, if they are “good,” the problem will stop. Some children take care of younger brothers or sisters, or try to support their parent. This responsibility causes children stress.

Children may also believe they must take sides between their parents. They may stop trusting a parent who makes promises he or she doesn’t keep. They may steal from the parent or get in trouble at school. Some children may try to draw attention away from the parent with the gambling problem, by:

  • using alcohol or other drugs
  • gambling
  • breaking the law.

It is important to help children understand that the family’s problems are not their fault. Children need to return to a safe and balanced home life and a normal childhood. Family or individual counselling can help children deal with these changes. Family members often over focus on the person with the addiction and forget to take care themselves.

Physical and Emotional Abuse

Family violence is more common when families are in crisis. Gambling problems can lead to physical or emotional abuse of a partner, elder parent or child. Children may be hurt due to pent-up anger or neglect. If this is happening in your family, get help right away.

Anxiety and Depression

Stress, anxiety and depression are common both for people with gambling problems and for their families. This can make sleeping, thinking and solving problems more difficult. If you have some of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, making your day-to-day life difficult, you may have a major depression:

  • You have lost interest in usual activities.
  • You feel depressed, down or irritable.
  • Your sleep has changed (e.g., you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, or you sleep too much).
  • Your appetite has changed. You have lost or gained weight.
  • You feel helpless, hopeless or despairing.
  • It is hard to think and to remember things, and your thoughts seem slower.
  • You go over and over guilty feelings. You can’t stop thinking about problems.
  • You have lost interest in sex.
  • You feel physically tired, slow and heavy; or you feel restless and jumpy.
  • You feel angry.
  • You think about suicide.

If you have any of these difficulties, speak to your family doctor, counselor or mental health professional. Tell him or her about the gambling problem too. Treatment may include medications and/or counselling and other support.

Suicide Risk

Rates of suicide are higher for people who gamble excessively, and for their family members. The people most likely to attempt suicide are those who also have a mental health problem (such as depression) or who use alcohol or other drugs. People who have threatened suicide or hurt themselves in the past are also more at risk.

If you feel suicidal or are making plans to end your life, get help right away. You don’t have to deal with your problems alone.

Please contact Sarah Sense-Wilson for more information about Problem Gambling services and support at (360) 716-4304 or Washington State Helpline 1-800-547-6133

 

Connecticut Tribes Band Together In New Push For Expanded Gambling

By Kevin Horridge, www.casino.org

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are teaming up in an effort to convince Connecticut to allow for expanded gambling. (Image: MoheganSun.com)

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are teaming up in an effort to convince Connecticut to allow for expanded gambling. (Image: MoheganSun.com)

Expanded gambling in Connecticut was supposed to be dead a month ago. But the proposal seems more alive than ever, as both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have been lobbying hard to get the state legislature to at least consider the measure as a way to combat the new casinos that are being built in neighboring Massachusetts.

It’s unclear what the Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots, the two tribes that operate the Native American casinos in Connecticut, would ask for or be able to get from state lawmakers.

It could be something as extensive as a brand new casino in northern part of the state that would attempt to convince state residents not to travel to Massachusetts once casinos are built there, or it could be a more modest proposal to add slot machines to off-track betting locations.

Officials, Lawmakers Speak Vaguely of Gambling Expansion

“We’re talking about ways to preserve jobs,” said Mashantucket Pequot chairman Rodney Butler, though he did not specify exactly what he or the tribe were planning. Butler and Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority chairman Kevin Brown traveled together last Wednesday to meet with Democratic leaders in Connecticut’s Senate.

“I view them as a major employer in our state,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), who a month ago declared their efforts dead but admitted to meeting with the tribal leaders last week. Like others, Duff provided few details on exactly what anyone was proposing.

Despite the lack of concrete proposals being floated publically, there are signs that at least some officials plan to help the tribes battle against increasing competition in the region.

“The gaming industry never goes away,” said State Representative Stephen Dargan (D-West Haven), who says the Public Safety and Security Committee that he chairs is likely to approve some kind of gambling expansion bill by a March 19 deadline. “It’s always an interesting topic.”

The sudden increase in chatter around the casino industry comes after last Wednesday’s release of the Northeastern Casino Gaming Research Project’s latest update. According to the group’s most recent report, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun has seen both their revenues and their employment rolls shrink by more than 35 percent since 2006, when the casinos were at their peaks. The combined revenue for the two casinos was just $1.9 billion last year, down from $3.2 billion in 2006.

Governor Acknowledges Issue, But Isn’t Taking Sides

Even Governor Dannel Malloy was willing to talk about the possibility of expanded gambling in his state, though he was careful not to take a position on the issue.

“This is not my proposal,” Malloy said to reporters while at the Mohegan Sun casino. “Other people are making it. I’m not saying no, I’m not saying yet.”

Malloy also acknowledged that the tribes are likely to need to do something once the MGM Springfield casino opens, which is expected to happen in 2017.

“Whether it’s nuclear or not, obviously gaming is becoming ubiquitous,” Malloy said. “And so when you have a state on your northern border that is going to have at least six establishments, that’s an issue. When Rhode Island improves their facilities, that’s an issue. I think the tribal nations have said, ‘Hey, we think this is a way to handle that.’”

Maine lawmakers advance series of gambling bills

by Alanna Durkin, Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine’s American Indian tribes that have long seen gambling as the remedy for high unemployment and sluggish economic growth in their communities are a step closer to being able to operate casinos after winning initial approval in the Democratic-controlled House on Thursday.

After several hours of debate, the House voted to overturn the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee‘s recommendation that the proposals be killed, giving new life to the bills that would allow the Passamaquoddy Tribe to build a casino in Washington County and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians to operate one in Aroostook County.

Tribal representatives who’ve been working to bring gambling to their counties for decades stressed their frustration with consistently being denied the ability to do so while casinos have opened in Bangor and Oxford and reaped significant economic benefits for their communities.

“Time and time again we have been told now is not the time, that we must develop a better plan or work more closely with local communities,” said Rep. Madonna Soctomah, who represents the Passamaquoddy Tribe in the Legislature and backed the first bill to bring a gambling facility to Washington County in the early ’90s. “At the same time, the state has granted licenses to two gaming facilities. We only ask that we be given the same opportunity.”

But operators of Maine’s two existing casinos are fiercely opposing the bills and contend that new gambling in the Maine, with a population of only 1.3 million, will devastate their businesses. The measures are also getting push back from lawmakers who want to implement a competitive bidding process before Maine adds new casinos, to ensure the state gets the best deal. Casino development has been largely steered by citizen initiative, meaning the state has had no say on things like licensing fees.

“These bills are a continuation of our state’s fragmented and disorganized approach to gaming policy,” said Democratic Rep. Louis Luchini of Ellsworth.

Another measure that advanced to the Senate on Thursday would let the Penobscot Nation and Aroostook Band of Micmacs run high-stakes electronic beano games. The House also defeated an effort to kill a bill that would allow the harness racing facility Scarborough Downs to operate slot machines, but the measure awaits further action in the House.

Lawmakers supporting the measure for Scarborough Downs argued that slot machines are the only way to keep alive the harness racing industry, which has a strong history in Maine and has lost many of its gamblers to the casinos. Others stressed the economic benefits like new jobs the expanded gambling would bring to the state that’s still struggling to get back the jobs it lost during the recession.

“I think we need to start in this state saying ‘yes’ to jobs,” said Republican Rep. Wayne Parry of Arundel. “If we continue to say ‘yes’ to jobs — but ‘not those jobs’ — we continue to show businesses around the country that we might like jobs, but not like theirs.”

The Passamaquoddy Tribe applauded the House’s action on Thursday, but the proposals still face a long road in the Legislature and, even then, voters in Washington County will get the final say.

“We’re very happy with the vote, but we’ve been here before,” said Joseph Socobasin, chief of the tribe. “We certainly have some work left to do. We’re not across the finish line yet.”

 

Gaming companies have lucrative deals operating Indian casinos

by Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Business Press

Newly expanded Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort in San Diego. (PRNewsFoto)

Newly expanded Harrah’s Rincon Casino & Resort in San Diego. (PRNewsFoto)

New casino development in Las Vegas is on lockdown.

Gaming expansion into states beyond recently approved markets is virtually nonexistent.

Those are two reasons regional casino giant and M Resort owner Penn National Gaming struck a deal with a San Diego-area Indian tribe to develop a long-stalled casino complex in Southern California.

A third reason is simple.

Penn National, which has 29 casinos nationwide, views the planned $360 million Hollywood Casino Jamul as an opportunity to increase its customer base in an untapped market. The development is 20 miles east of downtown San Diego, California’s second-largest city and the eighth-most populous city the U.S.

“We love the location and it’s a new way for us to cultivate a whole new set of customers,” Penn National Chief Operating Officer Jay Snowden said of the property, which is being built in partnership with the Jamul Village Indian Tribe.

In addition to the 390-room M Resort, Penn’s other Western casino is the Zia Park Racetrack in New Mexico.

“We’re eager for any opportunities to grow the company,” Snowden said.

The idea of the commercial casino industry striking management deals with Indian tribes isn’t new.

Station Casinos manages two Indian casinos — one each in California and Michigan — and has a deal for another Indian gaming project in central California. The company helped build and operate one of Northern California’s largest Indian casinos from 2003 to 2010 when the management contract expired.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. operates Indian casinos in California, Arizona and North Carolina.

“We’re very happy with the three partnerships we have cultivated,” Caesars Central Division President John Payne said. “The customers have been a great addition to our network. The facilities have developed into tourist destinations, not just pure casinos.”

Payne said customer activity at the Harrah’s-branded casinos near San Diego, outside Phoenix and in northern North Carolina are recorded within the company’s Total Rewards program. The locations allow Caesars to market the company’s properties in destination markets, such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

“Some of these partnerships are decades old,” Payne said. “We’ve worked hard to further those relationships.”

BIG BUSINESS

Indian gaming is far from penny ante.

In 2011, Indian casinos nationwide produced $27.4 billion in gaming revenue, according to Casino City’s 2013 Indian Gaming Industry Report. With 460 tribal casinos in 28 states, it takes more than a year for a California economist to compile the statistics.

California, which had 68 tribal casinos in 2011, is the nation’s largest Indian gaming market, producing more than $6.91 billion in gaming revenue in 2011 — accounting for more than 25 percent of the nation’s total.

Those figures caught the eye of the commercial casino industry.

Las Vegas hasn’t seen a resort open since 2010. Redevelopment projects, such as the SLS Las Vegas and Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, will reopen shuttered facilities. Construction of the $2 billion Resorts World Las Vegas — on the former Stardust-Echelon site — is expected to begin sometime this year and take more than two years to complete.

Nationally, Massachusetts was the last all-new market to approve casinos in 2011. There has been discussion of gaming expansion into other states, but nothing has come to fruition.

Indian gaming can be another growth market, along with riverboats and racetracks.

“We view Indian gaming in the same manner as we look at other development pipelines,” Snowden said.

Jamul will be Penn’s first casino for an American Indian tribe. The company has operated Casino Rama in Ontario on reservation land for the Chippewas of Rama First Nation since 1996.

Victor Rocha, editor of Pechanga.net, said small tribes often see their project come to fruition quicker with the help of a traditional commercial casino corporation.

“A lot of tribes are more aggressive to get something done,” Rocha said. “Anything that’s a big risk can also have big rewards.”

The Jamul tribe first signed its compact with California in 1999, but the size of the casino site was reduced dramatically by changes in federal law.

“It’s not much more than a postage stamp,” Rocha said of the 6-acre parcel.

Rocha added that partnering with a company the size of Penn, which can develop a Hollywood casino brand to fit the location, makes better financial sense for a tribe, rather than attempt the project alone.

Las Vegas gaming attorney Jennifer Carleton of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck spent 10 years as in-house counsel for a Wisconsin Indian casino. Since moving to Las Vegas, she has found herself increasingly advising the firm’s gaming clients on Indian gaming law.

The tribes benefit from major casino companies that have investment banking and financial connections to provide the development funds. The tribes also gain a partner with a large database of customers and the expertise to manage the casino.

“There are not as many potential developments as there were 10 years ago,” Carleton said. “For the tribes, a third party can often provide access to other areas, such as the technology for social media and online capabilities.”

The drawback with tribal gaming, however, is that development often takes place at a slower pace than with traditional commercial casino development. Approvals are needed from state and local governments, and federal agencies.

A 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling changed the way tribes were federally recognized. The primary switch was that the federal government could no longer take land into trust from tribes that were recognized after 1934, which slowed casino development possibilities.

“Navigating the land issues can be expensive and politically charged for the tribe,” Carleton said.

NO NEW PROJECTS

Payne said Caesars isn’t actively looking for new tribal projects, but is focused on expanding and developing its current partnerships.

Harrah’s Rincon in northern San Diego County with the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians has 662 hotel rooms and a 55,000-square-foot casino. Harrah’s Ak Chin, located in southern Phoenix for Ak Chin Indian Community, has 300 hotel rooms and a 40,000-square-foot casino. Both properties have other entertainment amenities, such dining and spa facilities, that add to the destination resort complex.

In North Carolina, Harrah’s and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians announced plans last year for a second resort that will have a 300-room hotel and 60,000 square feet of gaming space. The property will be in Murphy, N.C., 60 miles west of the original Harrah’s Cherokee, which has 1,200 rooms and a 90,000-square-foot casino. The resort is considered the state’s largest hotel.

“We’re not pursuing any new Indian developments at this time, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen,” Payne said.

Station Casinos operates the Gun Lake Casino near Grand Rapids, Mich., for the Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians and the $800 million Graton Resort & Casino, which opened in November near Santa Rosa, Calif., for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Tribe.

Station Casinos had one of the gaming industry’s first development deals with a California Indian tribe when the company opened Thunder Valley near Sacramento, Calif., for the United Auburn Tribe in 2003.

Last year, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that allows the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to move forward with the planned $350 million project with Station Casinos near a major state highway and Madera, Calif., about 25 miles north of Fresno.

However, an opposition group — which is financially backed by two competing Indian tribes — qualified a statewide ballot referendum for California’s November election that could kill the project.