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Zion's story

In 2006, I went to Vegas with four friends. Two liked gambling and the other two did not. I decided to play blackjack and I was hooked from the start. I stayed in a famous Vegas casino on the strip. All I could think of after the drinks, shopping, and shows was to get back to the blackjack table. I actually did ok, maybe lost a couple of hundred dollars but I loved the feeling. That was my first trip to Vegas which I deeply regret.

That began a 14 year spiral into gambling addiction.

When I first started to play I would only bet $5...but then it went up to $10, $25, then $50 and often times in the past 4-5 years I would bet $600 on a hand. If I played slots it might go as high as $90 a hand.

I had some great nights. I won anywhere from $1,000- $3,500. The most I had won was $5,400 in one sitting at Caesar’s. I had a blast and felt invincible.

However, the other 98% of the time I lost. Sometimes I lost $1,000 in 20 minutes.

Most times after losing, I felt terrible, as if there was a big hole in my stomach. I routinely got mad at myself and questioned why do I keep gambling.

I played blackjack to start but then tried 3-card poker, 4-card poker, and slots. Did not matter, I lost at them all.

Casino staff knew my by name. They always welcomed me. There were the good ones who told me to stop and get away. I recall one lady who told me I was young, and should not waste my money there. She told me no chance I was going to beat the "house." I did not listen to her.

I banned myself at casinos but then I would visit other casinos that would relax the rules to let me play (and lose).

I prioritised gambling over relationships. When I finished a date, I would immediately head to the local casino.

I never told anyone that I gambled. I still don't.

I am a good business person, and treat people well in life. However, once I started playing blackjack I lost all control. Didn't matter whether I was drinking (which was often) or sober.

Well 14 years later, I think I have lost close to $250,000. I can make the money back but the time and emotions will never be recouped. I feel terrible for allowing myself to get involved with gambling.

Thankfully COVID-19 hit, casinos are closed, and I have not gambled in five months. I feel great, balanced, got money in my account, and feel a positive energy for the future.

My advice to people is too stay away from the casinos and gambling. There is no chance you will win and the time you lose is not worth it.