Volume 18, Number 5
Other Bumps in the Road
GAMBLINGBy Paul R. AsheGambling appears poised to replace baseball as our national pastime. Last year, 85 percent of the American public gambled in excess of $700 billion. In addition, many trillions of dollars are gambled annually in various financial markets. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of those who gamble have a gambling problem. While less than 4 to 5 percent are considered pathological (compulsive) gamblers, many more people experience severe consequences from their gambling activities.Pathological gambling is a mental health disorder in which an individual has a psychologically uncontrollable preoccupation with the urge to gamble, eventually resulting in damage to vocational, family, and social relationships. It is characterized by a chronic and progressive inability to resist the impulse to gamble. It was first diagnosed and recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980 and was subsequently included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual ( DSM-IV).A lawyer who is a compulsive gambler can be very dangerous. By the nature of their practice, lawyers are often exposed to fiduciary relationships involving large sums of money, which serve as the commodity or "drug of choice" for the gambler. A lawyer who may already be predisposed to gamble, whether on a casino game, horse or dog race, lottery ticket, or via the Internet, should be aware of some of the inherent danger signs that could result in complete devastation, including prison, bankruptcy, or death.Gamblers Anonymous, an international organization founded in 1957, lists the following 20 questions (reprinted with permission from Gamblers Anonymous) as a means of determining whether a person is a compulsive gambler. Most compulsive gamblers will respond "yes" to at least seven of these warning signs.
2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
3. Did gambling affect your reputation?
4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
12. Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?
16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
20. Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?
2. Preoccupation with one's investments (e.g., excessive studying of investment newspapers or websites, thoughts about the market that interfere with work or one's social life, constant calls to one's broker).
3. Needing to increase the amount of money in the market or the "leverage" of one's investments to feel excited (e.g., using options or future contracts, borrowing on margin).
4. Repeated unsuccessful efforts to stop or control one's market activity (e.g., drawing on accounts previously declared off limits, contradicting or changing limit orders on losses or gains).
5. Restlessness or irritability when attempting to cut down or stop market activity, or when cash is accruing in one's account.
6. Involvement in market activity to escape problems, relieve depression, or distract oneself from painful emotions.
7. After taking losses in the market, continuing to take positions or increasing one's position as a way of getting even.
8. Lying to family members and friends to conceal the extent of involvement in the market.
9. Committing illegal acts, such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement, to finance market activity.
10. Jeopardizing significant relationships, one's job, or educational or career opportunities because of excessive involvement in the market.
11. Relying on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling in the markets.
2. Repentance-Show changes for the better made in light of one's past misdeeds.
3. Restitution-Detail and structure plans for repayment of debt or illegally obtained funds (in accordance with the Gamblers Anonymous fourth step, during which the compulsive gambler would set up a pressure relief group meeting and make a plan).
4. Rehabilitation-Outline the terms and types of treatment plans utilized.
5. Recovery-Delineate the type of lifestyle changes implemented to prevent a relapse or a return to criminal acts.
6. Resentment-Commit to not harboring any animosity towards the prosecuting agency or official.
Paul R. Ashe is a lawyer and past president of the National Council on Problem Gambling. He is currently an investment banker and president of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling in Orlando, Florida. He can be reached at PRAChief@aol.com.The author of this article has granted permission for reproduction of the text of this article for classroom use in an institution of higher learning and for use by not-for-profit organizations, provided that such use is for informational, non-commercial purposes only and any reproduction of the article or portion thereof acknowledges original publication in this issue of GPSolo, citing volume, issue, and date, and includes the title of the article, the name of the author, and the legend "Reprinted by permission of the American Bar Association." Where to Turn for HelpAny lawyer can obtain a list of local resources from your local lawyers assistance program, your state's Council on Compulsive Gambling, the National Council on Problem Gambling (800/522-4700 or firstname.lastname@example.org), or Gamblers Anonymous International Service Office (213/386-8769 or email@example.com).