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Do casinos feed gambling addictions?




The roulette wheel spins at Caesars Atlantic City July 8, 2006 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The roulette wheel spins at Caesars Atlantic City July 8, 2006 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

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More than three decades ago, casino gambling was illegal everywhere in the United States besides Nevada and New Jersey.

But when Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, commercial casinos have grown exponentially. Now, gambling is legal within 40 states.  A huge portion of gambling revenue, standing at 38 billion dollars, comes from a small percentage of casino customers.

Most of these frequent casino customers are likely compulsive gamblers, meaning they have an uncontrollable urge to keep betting even if the habit takes a toll on their personal and financial well being.  Writer John Rosengren profiled one gambler in a recent Atlantic article. Scott Stevens took his life when his gambling habit spun out of control, leaving his wife and three daughters behind. Rosengren compared practices casino employs in enticing gamblers to bars offering drinks to alcoholics.

Host Larry Mantle talks with Rosengren on his writing titled “How Casinos Enable Gambling Addicts”. Also joining the show is Dr. Timothy Fong, Associated Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and co-director of the UCLA Gambling Studies program.

For help with a gambling addiction, or if you questions about someone you know who may have an addiction, you can call California's largest problem gambling hotline for free at 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537).

Guests:

John Rosengren, journalist and author of eight books. His article titled “How Casinos Enable Gambling Addicts” can be found in this month’s Atlantic Magazine.

Dr. Timothy Fong, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and co-director of the UCLA Gambling Studies program