- freely available
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(9), 854; doi:10.3390/ijerph13090854
2. Materials and Methods
My parents were alcoholic. So, very heavy alcoholics, always fighting, arguing. We would get beat, our Christmas tree, we would go out the door because they were so drunk. They’d throw it out, but there was never birthdays. You could never take Valentine’s into your friends at school. We never had an Easter. I remember one time it was my birthday, and my dad took my cake and just threw it against the wall, and then, ever since then I’ve never celebrated birthdays.
I’ve always moved around like in different areas, all over the place. Because my parents, when they were drunk, didn’t pay the rent and that, and so, I lived a rough life as a kid…anywhere we lived, and it really screwed my life up. I went to many, multiple schools. Because my parents were heavy duty alcoholics, I would have to go to school in my dirty, raggedy clothes, and the kids would make fun of me. I think that’s, like I have a very low self-esteem.
I started drinking when I was 7 years old...I’d drink to get numb, and just to hear the steps if somebody was coming to hurt me. Then when I was 18, I looked at both my parents....numerous times I called the police, and back then, the police and the Children’s Aid wanted to keep the family together, they didn’t want to separate the family. So, they tried working with my parents and that, and then, when I was 18 I looked at my parents and I said, I’m out of here, and because it (sexual assault) started when I was like 7, I was afraid to sleep. I developed insomnia.
I used to get my older sister to go in and get me, I don’t know if you remember them, the Wintario. I used to get her to get me the Wintario tickets. If I won on it, my sister would cash it in for me. …My sister used to stay out and buy me that, and I used to scratch the ticket for her.
When I see my sister, she used to go to bingo. She used to come home and say, “Hey I won, I won”. She used to win $500, $1,500.
To see the rush, and all of that excitement. Yeah. Like even, I remember when Wintario brought out the scratch on the bottom of the ticket, and you could win anywhere from $5 to $100,000... and the first time I ever won $200 on that ticket, like I almost tore the guy’s store apart. It was the adrenalin I had. It was like, wow. I finally won, and ever since then, and I was 15 years old, since then, I got that adrenalin.
Gambling. As I said, it’s my... it eases my mind. I don’t even think if I went to a gambling, if there was one out there, a gambling detox, whatever the hell you call it. I don’t think it would help me. Because, I get that urge. I get those nightmares. I wake up in the morning and oh, I want a scratch ticket now.
When I was born my mother and my father were 14 years old. The first time I tasted alcohol, I was four years old. My father give me that drink, and he gave me that drink just to see how I would react, and ever since that first drink, anytime I get a chance to drink, I will drink. At age 11, I had to run away from home because my father was very abusive, and I was afraid of him. He used to physical abuse me for everything I have done wrong.
I was living with my mother for a while, and there, I started drinking a lot, and I started to hang with a group of guys who were much older than me and they used to give me a lot of alcohol to drink, and they used encourage me to do crime. Like, petty crime, like going into people’s back yards, steal their bottle, steal their gas, and so forth, and my mother didn’t like that, and I had to leave from my mother’s home.
Well, I think what led me to gambling was the kind of people that I was around, right, because they were like older, professional crooks, gamblers all they want to do is... they live to gamble and gamble to live. They gamble all their life. They were like criminals, and I was in a position where I had no choice but to join them because I was homeless, and there I start hanging with them. When I was about 12 years old I was living on the streets, and there was a few bigger guys that I used to hang around, and they were gamblers. They used to play a game called Crown Anchor where they have six or three dice underneath a cup, and they have a corrupter under the board. …So, he would have a hoard of people around and I would be at the side …I would be there betting as if I’m betting for real to entice people to come and bet. If he wins I would get a little small amount, but he pays me, I would use that money to play cards. As I get a little bit more experience about the game what I used to do is I used to have one guy who’s playing in the game who him and I are partner, and we used to know what the 52 card in the pack means by sign …So, whatever he wants, I would let go out of my hand, you know, and stuff like that, and he would shuffle the deck in a way we know how to cut the deck for him to wins.
So, there was two guys in my community that they used to use me …so that people could bet, and when they win big sum of money, they would give me like a small amount and they would take the bigger bread. But I, as a little kid, didn’t really like it because I know they were treating me (badly), but I couldn’t do nothing about it because they were bigger, stronger guys than me, and one day, I tried to play the game, and the result of I try to play the game, because they were professional game, they are the man. They have the money. They are playing the game, right, and I started to play the game really good, and I become a pro in the game. I said, “I don’t want to work with you guys no more. I’m on my own”. So, here I am all by myself in the marketplace playing the game.
I did this for years, and every single day, I remember going to the gambling house. I would leave that gambling house with not a penny in my pocket. Hungry, have no place to live, my breath it stinks. I haven’t showered because I used the money to buy soap, to gamble and I lost all my money. The next day, I get up, that’s what I want to do again, and it’s like I used to get high. I used to get a buzz off of having money, and sitting around the gambling table. Yeah. And I did it for years.
I had a really, I guess you could say, a traumatic childhood because of my dad. He was an alcoholic, an abusive alcoholic, and I always thought I would never be like my dad, but unfortunately, as time progressed, I eventually became an alcoholic myself …I guess you see in my past, my parents, we ended up losing our house too because my dad ended up not only drinking but he also gambled the house away that we lost.
I started gambling when I started drinking. So, that would be at the age of 16, and I went on with drinking, I went on with gambling... Like I’d gamble on a daily basis when... I used to like ProLine, on sporting events like basketball, or hockey, baseball, soccer, football. I’m a football fanatic. There was one time when I won a lot of money in ProLine, and it was like $2,000, and I took the $2,000 and I spent it all over again on gambling even more money. Like all of it just so I could win more. I guess you could say it’s a vicious cycle like it’s never enough. I mean you think $2,000 is a lot, yes it is, but when you could win more, why not spend more?
When I was that age, I couldn’t gamble, or drink, so I had to pay someone to play for me. So, they’d have to get something out of it. Say if you want me to do it, “what’s in it for me?”. So, I’d have to give them some money so they’d play for me because you ain’t going to get something for free that’s for sure. “What’s in it for me?”, they’d keep saying that. “Okay, I’ll give you an extra $20 just go play for me.”... but most of these people have been screwed over a lot of times that I’d give them the money up front first, and I wouldn’t see them. So, I’d have to get like my people that I drank with to buy the tickets because then I’d bribe them by buying alcohol. That would work. Instead of giving them the money because I’d spend the money on a drink. So, I’d say, okay. I’ll buy you an extra beer. I’ll buy you the first two rounds, and because they were older than me they would do that. They would play for me because they’d get something out of it.
So, the reasons for gambling would be not only to win more money but at the same time I’d be able to drink more. Besides that I’d be also to bribe people, and I guess live above my needs.
I was betting on sports since I was 15 years old, and I been using drugs since I was 17 years old, and as a young child, sports betting for me, I was very good at it.
So, it was like, this is great. You know, so for me it was like a skill. It’s like I’m giving them my knowledge, and they’re winning money off of it, and that’s how it began for me, right. So, all through high school, I was living on my own. I moved out of my house at 16, I was on my own at 16, and that’s how I supported myself. I was able to do it, and I was very disciplined, you know, I never got into trouble or anything like that, you know, and actually high school was fun. It was really fun. So, that’s how it began for me.
My first ever bet was $100, as a 15 years old high school kid, that’s a lot of money, a hundred dollars, especially in the early 90’s. I’ll never forget too, it was the New York Rangers playing the San Jose Sharks. It was a Friday night too. It was a hockey game, and the line on that game, the Rangers had to win by four goals. So, it was three and a half, because back then there was a thing called a puck line. So, in Vegas, if you’re betting the Rangers, they had to win by four goals. If you bet the Sharks, they could lose by three goals or less and you win. So, I put a hundred dollars on the Rangers, they won that game seven to one. I remember walking down (the) street and seeing the score through a restaurant window on a TV. Of course, I was happier than a pig in shit, right. So, then, and see growing up for me, I was a sports junkie. I’ve always been a sports junkie. So, I knew a lot about these games as a kid and stuff like that.
So, for me, it was just me and my friends. They used to come to me. “Who do you like?” ProLine came out in the early 90’s right when I was going to high school. So, every day, I had everyone coming up to me. “Give me games, give me games”, because I knew the stuff inside out, I did, as a kid, that’s all I did was sports, right, even to this day. So, as I got into my later teens, 16–17 I used to frequent these places that were frequented by some unsavory characters. I guess you could say, older men who had some ties to, you know, and even these guys would come to me for games. So, I’m this kid. I’m thinking these guys over here are asking me for the game. I would give them games and the games would win, and they would give me money for it. So, it was like, this is great.
Once I started doing drugs, sports betting became an avenue to obtain more drugs. See, a lot of people that I’ve come across, they have a drug addiction they got to commit crimes and all these things. I didn’t have to do that. I had this other skill that I could use in order to obtain my drugs, right.
It was an ego thing. Ego. So, I got these, like I told you, I got these mobster guys coming to me for picks, I’m a kid. You feel like a champ. You’re making money for these guys. It’s an ego. It makes you feel good. Absolutely.
As a young child growing up in a situation where I was always around bikers, murderers and drug dealers in my first years of life, there was a lot of gambling going on, there was a lot of talk about gambling. There was a lot. So, as I got older, I just, you know, I started doing a little gambling myself, doing off-track betting, and hanging around drinking beers, doing off-track betting.
So, I’ve never stayed out of jail longer than three months in the last 10 years. So, from the age of 14, I was charged for the first time when I was 13, but I never went to jail until I was 14 or 15, but from that age, I never stayed out of jail longer than three months… So, you can’t go to school, you can’t graduate, you can’t even have a child in three months… So, to really grasp that, it’s kind of like... I don’t know. I mean, it’s been very hard.
My mom kind of just didn’t know what to do with me. She gave up. I kept coming in and out of jail, in and out of jail, in and out of the house at 2:00 in the morning, and she met a fellow, and they were together, and they have been together for a long time now, and they thought it was the best idea if I just left the home. So, that basically... got kicked out of my home at seventeen. The same day I got out of jail, they told me, and that’s it.
I guess it was just I was 17 and there was something in my history, and then, I turned 18, and I could start buying scratch tickets, and I never turned back… I just continued because I took, I got a bell, I got three bells, and I won $500, that was a lot of money for me at the time, and I just kept buying them. I just kept buying those, and kept tearing them, tearing them.
It (gambling) made me feel exhilarated. I felt exhilarated even if I was taking my chances with a scratch ticket,... it was almost exciting the way it was just, I just enjoyed it so much, and was like a pasttime for me. It was like almost a hobby. So, it was something to keep my mind off other worries I was having in my life, whether it be housing, whether it would be using substances, whether it would be family issues. I just felt it was a hell of a lift. I still do.
Conflicts of Interest
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|Pseudonym||Childhood Abuse/Neglect||Substance Use before Age 18||Homelessness before Age 18||Poverty|
|Pseudonym||Earn Money for Basic Needs||Earn Money to Buy Drugs or Alcohol||Escape Painful Memories||Adrenalin High or Rush||Social Reinforcement and/or Perceived Skill||Early Big Win Reported|
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