We’re in the midst of March Madness. Many people bet on their team to go all the way. But for 6-8 million Americans with a gambling addiction, it can go far beyond throwing a few dollars into the office tournament pool.
We spoke with a Lancaster County man who spent 20 years as a compulsive gambler. He wishes to remain anonymous.
He says, “I had to have more in that game than the next person always had. I always had to be the big shot.”
His sport betting started in his teens. “It was all kinds of sports from baseball to basketball to football, there wasn’t a day I never bet.”
The bigger the event, the bigger his bet. “Weeks I’ve lost thousands of dollars and times you gain back all the time.”
Now in his thirties, he admits his gambling got out of control. To address gambling problems, experts at Compass Mark are heightening awareness through discussions.
Ken Martz works with the State Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. He says, “You can lose more than 3 times your annual salary in debt before you come to treatment and realize it’s a problem that can be treated in that way.”
Martz says out of any addiction, gambling has the number one suicide rate. But there’s prevention and support available.
Compass Mark is the only non-profit in Lancaster County for problem gamblers. They can direct you to Gamblers Anonymous and other resources. For more, contact them at 717-299-2831.