NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
RALPH O.: My name is Ralph O. I'm a compulsive gambler.
This is the first time I've been in Atlantic City since February 14th, 1991. On that day at the end of that day, I called the 1-800 gambler number. I had just maxed out 18 credit cards, and it was the end of a 40 year career of gambling. I was six figure debt on the credit cards and credit lines in gambling.
It was the end of a career that started betting with bookies at the age of 15 years old, graduating on to college and playing cards and dice games in the service, going further on to the tracks all through my working life; never could save enough money to buy a house. I was married. I had three kids when I got out of the service at the age of 24. I could never put enough money together. Everything went to gambling.
I remember once flying to Puerto Rico to recoup some money I'd lost and had taken money from my employer to go down there. I planned spending a day. Six weeks later my family was on welfare, and I was gone trying to get money to pay a bookie.
After 40 years, after I made that phone call my life started. My life started when I made that telephone call.
I had no job. I had no income, and I was in debt. I was able to start my own business because I had a clear head after three or four months of going to meetings.
I'm now an employer. I own my own business. I have 30-some people working with me and for me.
I can't in any way talk against gambling. I enjoyed it when I was gambling. I lost a lot of money. I'm still paying debts from when I was gambling, but I can say for me it doesn't work and it didn't work, and my life started at the age of 55 and a half.
I'm now 62 years old, and I have a life. The life is because I don't gamble.
Just one quick story about what can go on in this, if I have a little bit of time.
TIMER: Three seconds.
RALPH O.: Well, I won't go into that story then, but I thank you for listening to me because it's a little longer than that, and thank you.
COMMISSIONER McCARTHY: May I ask one quick question?
RALPH O.: Sure.
COMMISSIONER McCARTHY: Madame Chair?
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Certainly.
COMMISSIONER McCARTHY: You maxed out 18 credit cards.
RALPH O.: Yes.
COMMISSIONER McCARTHY: How did you get away with that? Didn't any of the casinos or the racetracks where you might have been gambling --
RALPH O.: It was through a machine. It was through machines all here in Atlantic City at the casinos, and I had over $100,000 in credit coming to me from these various credit cards, and I just stuck them in -- in fact, in one day it was $70,000, the last day.
COMMISSIONER McCARTHY: How many credit cards did you use in any one gambling facility?
RALPH O.: All of them if necessary.
COMMISSIONER McCARTHY: Eighteen credit cards?
RALPH O.: At one time I came down here.
COMMISSIONER McCARTHY: Was it a racetrack or a casino?
RALPH O.: No, this was all in the casino.
COMMISSIONER McCARTHY: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Thank you.