DON W.: My name is Don W. I am a compulsive gambler. I made my last bet on June 12th, 1980.

I'm 67 years old, and I'm going to give you a quick thing of my life, and I'll do it in the three minutes that you're allowing me.

Number one, when I was a kid about ten years old, I used to pitch pennies, and every time I pitched pennies I'd have to win all of the pennies or lose all my money.

As I got older I went into the service. On payday I was broke. I either had to shoot dice or something like that. I always had this compulsion inside me.

I got married when I was 21. When I got married, it was the same thing. In 1965, it was my first venture to Gamblers Anonymous. My wife says to me, "Don, you have to go to Gamblers Anonymous because you've got a gambling problem."

At that time I was very, very -- a few thousand dollars in debt. I went to a meeting, and I didn't stop gambling, and I got up and said I wasn't gambling, but I still was.

In 1966, I hit a number for a fantastic amount of money, and I had $8,000 in cash -- I'll never forget this as long as I live -- in my pocket in the closet, and I had my utilities turned off for nonpayment, my gas, electric, and water.

I lost that eventually. I went back April 13th, 1967. I stopped gambling for 21 months, and then I went and I gambled again, very small, but I went back.

Then I stopped in 1969, and I didn't gamble for 11 years and 15 days. Never forget it. February 1st, 1980, Don went back and started playing the pickets (phonetic) again.

I started to gamble for about four months, and then June of that year I had stopped again. The one thing that I learned about compulsive gambling: if you look at a 12 step book, the first step is we admitted we were powerless over gambling, that our lives had become unmanageable.

Now, anybody who has a compulsive gambling problem should read one of those books, and it might fall into their party -- into their problem.

And the other thing, a compulsive gambler, there's not enough money for them to win. They just want to win and win and win, and eventually the small bets get bigger and bigger and bigger, and before you know it you lose, and the only big hit a compulsive gambler can have is going to GA because, please believe me, if it wasn't for GA I would be a dead man now.

Thank you.


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