Getting help for addicted gamblers in Oklahoma

Wednesday, October 12th 2005, 10:07 am
By: News On 6

The first day of the lottery has some folks concerned. Some groups believe Oklahoma is already on a slippery slope when it comes to gambling and are worried those taking a chance on the lottery are playing a dangerous game.

News on 6 anchor Terry Hood says the Oklahoma Association for Gambling Addiction Awareness says Oklahoma ranks number two in the nation, just behind Nevada, when it comes to the number of casinos statewide.

Now, they worry scratch-off tickets could be opening the door to a whole new group of potential gambling addicts. “The lottery's going to be available to anybody with a buck, and so it's really going to open up the problem to a lot of people who truly, truly cannot afford it."

Executive Director Devonna Grover says the organization was founded last month by family members of compulsive or addicted gamblers. They'd like to see the legislature pass rules that may prevent gamers from becoming addicted, for example, prohibit check cashing at casinos.

There are thousands of addicted gamblers statewide. One member of Gamblers Anonymous agreed to talk to us, as long as we kept her anonymous.

She says people don't realize when they play the lottery and go to casinos, they could be gambling with their lives. "The disease will drive you to prison, to insanity, and a lot, to death."

She even tried suicide, but found new hope in Gamblers Anonymous. Their telephone number is 760-4349.