The follow-up to the above question is, Is There a Statute on The Books, Driving Under The Influence of Gambling? I ask that of Law Enforcement and people who work in the Judicial Court System. I get a few chuckles now and then with the answer usually being no. Of course we know that there is no statute. I then tell anecdotal stories about people who have driven under the influence of gambling. Think of someone who has lost all their money at a casino. Maybe they spent the rent money, the mortgage money, the kid’s education fund, their or their child’s co-pay for needed medication, the diaper money, money they have borrowed for other purposes, money they have stolen, the list goes on and on… Maybe they have stood at a machine for hours after a day of work. Maybe they have not eaten in hours. Maybe like me they are struggling with suicidal ideation while behind the wheel.
I know of multiple accidents that have happened in some of those situations. In the cases where there was not substance use the Police Officer has no reason to believe that this was anything but an “accident” Accidents happen to all of us. I am not suggesting that most of these “accidents” are intentional. I am suggesting they have a cause.
As gamblers we do not have anyone who by law has to cut us off as a bartender has a legal responsibility to do. We do not have DUIs that put us in the court system mandating we get help or spend time in jail. We have no threshold in how much we can lose on a given day besides money. Sadly, people will go to great lengths to get money to gamble. There is no sobriety field test or blood test to determine the influence of gambling on someone’s mental or physical state.
We (myself and others in the field of treatment and prevention) talk to Officers of the Law about these possibilities so they can be aware of the effects of gambling and pass along both resources and conversation.
My hope is that the State will look to regulate and statute some efforts to limit the damage from gambling to individuals, families, society. See the previous blog, Who is Responsible for Responsible Gambling, for some of my ideas on how to protect people from the harmful effects of a gambling disorder.