OTTUMWA — At first, George bought a lottery ticket once or twice a week. Nothing big. Spent $1 or $2 at a time.
As the big jackpots rolled around, he’d purchase a few more tickets. No big deal, he thought.
Soon, playing the lottery became his obsession. His $1 to $2 twice a week spending became $50 to $100.
What George didn’t realize was that he was spending the bulk of his paycheck on lottery tickets. As his addiction became greater, he began selling items to purchase tickets, neglecting his financial responsibilities and avoiding his family and friends.
While George is fictitious, his story is not.
Some people play the lottery because they just know they’ll eventually win. There have been some people who actually have won a small lottery and just know it will happen again. Before they know it, they have lost it all while trying to win again.
The same scenario can be applied to scratch-off tickets. Many people who are obsessed with purchasing lottery tickets are just as compulsive and out of control.
We’ve read about these people in the news. In one example, a woman was charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from her employer to fuel her addiction to scratch-off lottery tickets.
There are others, too. A lottery addiction led to a 42-year-old man’s death. He shot himself because of his gambling addition. He won big once and thought he could do it again. Instead, he blew through his life savings to fuel his addition.
Lisa Bachman, a problem gambling counselor with ADDS Gambling Treatment Services in Ottumwa, says people who have gambling addictions are not immune to any social stigma.
“It’s a silent addiction,” she said. “They don’t realize they have problem until they can’t pay the rent or mortgage or put food on the table. That’s usually when there is a call for help.”