NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
MR. STANLEY: Good evening.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Good evening.
MR. STANLEY: My name is Isaac Stanley, and first of all, I'd like to thank the members of the Commission for being here this evening and for allowing me to speak.
As a consultant and adjunct instructor at Jersey City College in Jersey City, New Jersey, I've had the opportunity to teach a course about compulsive gambling to a number of prospective New Jersey certified drug and addiction counselors as part of their certification requirements here in the State of New Jersey.
The purpose of this eight hour course is to give students the diagnostic tools that will enable them to identify the compulsive gambler and make the appropriate treatment referrals.
I'm not here tonight as a representative of any particular organization, and I'm not here to speak in support of or in opposition to organized gaming. Rather, I'm here as a concerned citizen who'd like to share just a few observations with the members of this Commission.
From some of the personal testimonies we've heard here this evening, it seems that the explosive growth and close proximity of gambling to most Americans has really escalated the problems associated with compulsive gambling, family break-ups, criminal activity, and all the associated costs.
Compulsive gambling is, in fact, a hidden addiction in the sense that no substance is ingested. As the saying goes, you won't see card marks or lottery ticket marks on anyone's arms, and you certainly won't smell dice on anyone's breath.
Within the black communities that I've lived and worked in in Chicago, East Orange, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, gambling is primarily viewed as a harmless recreational activity. It's seen as a viable way of getting through life and somehow eventually meeting one's goal in life by escaping a level of poverty.
Within these same communities, I've also seen a profound lack of awareness of the problem of compulsive gambling and the available treatment options.
What I'm proposing here is that the Commission take an extremely focused look at how some forms of legalized gambling impact poor communities. Those who can least afford it are being targeted and given the message that somehow it pays to dream rather than save to invest in one's financial future.
I would urge you to develop ways of increasing access to addiction treatment options. Some of the benefits of this treatment would be reduction in the overall cost to the gaming industry itself, cost to states, the federal government by reducing the number of unpaid debts, divorces, bankruptcies, and the costs associated with criminal prosecution.
It would also increase the overall sense of worker productivity out there in the work force for people who do have a compulsive problem, and it would also save the lives of those persons who may at this very moment be considering suicide as a result of their problems.