NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
HARVEY G.: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Harvey, would you pull that --
HARVEY G.: Sure.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: -- so that we can --
HARVEY G.: You look so scary up there. I --
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Please, not this group.
HARVEY G.: Not this group.
My name is Harvey, and I'm a compulsive gambler, and I haven't gambled for a long time, but I remember.
I remember when I was young the only thing I ever wanted to be was an attorney, dreamt of it, schemed for it, my only dream in life, and it never came easy. I worked very hard to obtain it, worked through high school, college, and later law school, and became an attorney in the State of New Jersey.
And my dream came true, and I remember when I became an attorney, my parents, who hadn't gone through high school, were just so happy and proud that their son had become an attorney. My God, what a gift I gave them.
And I remember building up probably the largest real estate practice for a single practitioner in the State of New Jersey, but I also remember building up a larger, more horrible gambling problem because gambling became more important to me than anything.
It became more important than law. It became more important than my family, my wife and three children. It became the most important thing in my life.
I don't know why, and I don't know when it changed, but it did, and I remember doing things I thought I was incapable of doing. I never stole anything in my life, and I found myself doing terrible things to gamble.
Every single vacation became a gambling vacation whether my family liked it or not. They were bound to come with me.
But I mostly remember sitting down with my wife in May of 1980 and telling her that the house that we had had three mortgages, that the bank accounts that we had saved were no longer there, that the children's funds for college were gone, that my lifelong ambition as attorney would never ever be again, but most of all, that I -- that I had no self- esteem, no desire to live, and I prayed every single night after that that I would die, that I wouldn't go on another minute. I remember that most of all.
But I also remember finding Gamblers Anonymous, and I haven't gambled a day since then. I thought life was over. It gave me a resurrection. It brought back my children to me, my family to me. It brought back hope, hope I hadn't had for a long, long time.
My message is not to tell you to close casinos. My message is perhaps to tell you that there is hope out there. Perhaps we can publicize it. Perhaps we can teach it. Perhaps we can make people aware.
I was one of the fortunate ones, very fortunate, and I know I have to close now.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Thank you, Harvey.
HARVEY G.: Thank you.