Don't gamble on your future

My sons, both of whom are in their 20's, have recently discovered poker. Since they were raised in a non-gambling home (I have never even bought a lottery ticket), this astounds me.

More and more young people are now gambling and it generally starts innocently and in subtle ways. It is becoming socially acceptable to participate in 50-50 draws, casino nights, and afternoon poker games.

While most teens start to gamble just "for fun," some will end up with a serious gambling problem and it can easily become an addictive pastime.

Gambling, alcohol a dodgy mix

Problem gamblers are more likely to drink, suffer from alcoholism

B.C. government gaming watchdogs doubt serving alcohol at the Great Canadian Casino in View Royal will fuel social problems, saying no evidence exists that links drinking in casinos to out-of- control gambling.

The casino has applied to the Liquor Control Board and View Royal for a liquor licence to sell drinks to customers on its gaming floor. It currently sells alcohol in its attached restaurant.

Latest victim of VLT addiction

The first time I met Pete was on a cold winter night at a doughnut shop on Sherbrooke St. W. Seated at the counter, several stools apart, we got into conversation. He was in his 30s, unemployed, but donating his time and skills to help in a project building homes for the needy in St. Henri. Over the next while, I often ran into him. He appeared to be a well-balanced young man who enjoyed composing songs on his guitar and at one time had envisioned a career in music. He owned a little red truck, which was old but was his pride and joy.

VLT addiction depletes widow's wealth

Marnie Hall's family knew she liked to play the VLTs.What they didn't know was how indebted she was.

When her son contacted the Montreal Gazette to propose his mother as a candidate for a financial makeover, he thought she owed $15, 000 on her credit cards.

As it turns out, Hall (not her real name) owes $30,000 on five cards charging interest of about 20 per cent, plus $73,000 on a line of credit taken out on the home she inherited 10 years ago.

"We had no idea," son Jason said.

A progressive addiction

HE STARTED gambling at 14. Poker mostly. Then he graduated to the racetrack.

From then on, he couldn't resist the drug-like rush he felt making a bet.

His compulsive gambling sent him on a downward spiral lasting 24 years and cost him his marriage, family, job and nearly his life. Along the way he spent time in jail and became addicted to painkillers and booze.

"When I get in a racetrack, everything goes."