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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Tavern Gaming: Expanding Gambling in Pennsylvania

pull tab gambling gamesOn Nov. 27, Gov. Tom Corbett signed Act 90 of 2013 into law legalizing tavern gaming – that is, tavern raffles for a charitable or public purpose, pull-tab games and daily drawings at certain licensed establishments. 

Why should anyone care?  This is part of a continued expansion of gambling opportunities for Pennsylvania residents.  This sort of gaming was relegated to private clubs; like Legions and Veteran’s Associations, but will now be accepted at public venues that hold liquor licenses such as; restaurants, hotels, privately-owned public golf courses and brew pubs.   

With availability comes increase of use.  With increase of use comes the potential for an increase in problems.  These sorts of games can be viewed as harmless, like instant lottery tickets.  The reality is that these types of gambling can become just as addictive as all other forms of gambling.  Consider the availability of instant lotteries; they can be purchased in just about every convenient store and/or gas station.  In the fiscal year of 2012-2013, Pennsylvania sold over 2 billion dollars in instant lottery tickets.  

Consider the expansion of casinos in Pennsylvania.  In 2009-2010, the number of people that sought help for a gambling problem through state funding (Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs) was 107.  In 2010-2011, that number rose by over 50% to 166.  Is there a correlation to The Sands (opened 5/2009), Parx (expanded gambling 12/2009) and Sugar House (opened 9/2010) opening and/or offering expanded gambling during this time?  

The information listed above is why we should care.  Gambling is a serious addiction that certainly won’t decrease as long as we increase the opportunities for PA residents to gamble.  If you or a family member is experiencing problems related to gambling please visit our website and/or call our 1-800-221-6333 hotline to find out how to access help. 

Check out the PA Liquor Control Board website for more information about Act 90.

M. Jason Radosky
Criminal Justice Manager

My Take: The Anonymous People by Jim Kosa

AnonPeopl LogoI watched a great documentary film, recently, called The Anonymous People.  It’s about addicts, those people everybody knows, some intimately, but nobody wants to talk about.  They range from crazy, albeit harmless, Aunt Betty ,who’s never been seen without a can of beer in her hand, to Robert Downy, Jr. ,who’s gone from being a vagrant at death’s door, to one of the hottest, most respected stars in Hollywood, and everyone in between.  I mean everyone in between, because addicts, whether their poison is drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, or a host of other unhealthy behaviors, are easily mistaken for the rest of us. 

Still, addicts hide in plain sight, to a large extent, pariah.  Why? Addiction, including alcoholism, has been recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association for over 50 years.  Victims of Cancer, Parkinson’s, and just about every other major disease, aren’t discriminated against to anywhere near the degree that alcoholics and addicts are, even those in long-term (Up to 60+ years!)  Recovery.  But, then, these victims, of what I’ll call Mainstream Diseases, aren’t treated like criminals. 

One activist in the film, a woman in recovery from Alcoholism for over 42 years, is fighting for alcoholics to receive the same level of support she received when battling Breast Cancer.  “The medical community couldn’t do enough for me.”, she exclaimed. 

Of the $250 Billion taxpayer dollars spent on addiction annually, only 4 % is spent on prevention and treatment.  The rest is spent on prosecution and incarceration.   It’s common knowledge that The War on Drugs has been failing miserably for over five decades.  Still, archaic laws, that do far more harm than good on multiple levels, remain in effect. Get pulled over for driving drunk and the System welcomes you with open arms and processes you post haste.  Try to get a heroin addict into a rehab and you could be bogged down in red tape for weeks.  It’s insane. 

It’s, also, ironic that the film places much of the responsibility for the stigma connected with addiction on addicts themselves.  It dissects the Traditions of 12 Step Programs which  emphasize the importance of anonymity, and how these are too often misinterpreted to the detriment of the Fellowship.  At one point in the film, Bill Wilson, himself, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, the mother of all 12 Step Programs, actually encourages recovering alcoholics to speak about their own recovery and to advocate for the rights of other alcoholics, as long as they do not involve the twelve-step group by name. 

To that end, then, I’m Jim and I am in long-term recovery, which means that I have not used alcohol for more than 15 years. I am committed to recovery because it has given me and my family new purpose and hope for the future, while helping me gain stability in my life.  I am now speaking out because long-term recovery has helped me change my life for the better, and I want to make it possible for others to do the same.  

With over 22,000,000 alcoholics in the United States alone, and only 2,000,000 in recovery, how can I not?

Click here for information on the next showing of The Anonymous People.

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