Just before the State of Illinois voted on their last gambling expansion I submitted an op-ed to the Trib. It was not printed. My first line was to the effect that I had left my wife and our 11 month old daughter to spend four days in a hotel room. I was oscillating between thoughts of suicide or finding money to gamble. Family and friends did not know for two of those days if I was dead or alive. They knew I had relapsed. That relapse would have dire effects on my families financial and emotional well being. They did not deserve or have control over my actions that led to those effects.
After I wrote the op-ed and before I submitted it I called my first wife and our adult daughter to get their permission to submit it. I received their permission. They both seemed to feel that if we could help even one family by telling part of our story it would be worth the effort. The permission from my first wife came with the correction that our daughter was two months old. I had left her with a two month old, no job, and an uncertain future.
That is a too common story with Gambling Disordered systems. I believe there are weak spots in the treatment, recovery, prevention, and the state efforts to offer help to families.
In an earlier blog piece I gave recommendations of how to open the casinos. I mentioned a bit of magical thinking. Here is a big piece of protection for families that I think would keep innocents from the financial and emotional pain that is caused by the selfishness of casinos, The State, and gamblers.
To introduce the idea I want you to think of other financial transactions. I am pretty sure if you are married you cannot open a brokerage account or get a mortgage with marital property unless your spouse is on the account or opts out. In most cases a spouse has no idea that gambling is causing harm by their spouse’s gambling or that the gambler is risking a home, the kid’s college fund, retirement money, the co-pays for medication, the diaper money… In many cases the gambler is using monies to gamble that were illegally obtained from marital money.
So, here goes. A MARRIED PATRON OF A CASINO NEEDS TO HAVE APPROVAL FROM THEIR SPOUSE TO GAMBLE AT THE CASINO. IF APPROVAL IS GIVEN THERE NEEDS TO BE A DOLLAR LIMIT AGREED TO.