My name is Wayne, and I am a recovering compulsive gambler who has not found it necessary to make a bet since September 23, 1989. My story is not different from others who have suffered like myself, it is a tail of fun, dreams, progressive gambling, and crossing the line into uncontrolled gambling which almost cost me my life.
My gambling began by placing bets at the local harness racetrack (Maywood Park) in Maywood Il. My dad worked there after he retired. He was an Andy Frain usher. I used to pick him up from work, since his finish time was never certain because of the length of the race card. I would go in and talk to him till he was done. One day my dadís friend gave me a two-dollar ticket on a horse and said go watch #6 with the red and blue silks. So I did , lo and behold it won, I was told to take this ticket to the cashiers window and to my surprise the ticket was worth $18.60, and I did not even invest the original two dollars, my dad's friend gave it to me. I was excited, I was only 17 and I promptly went home to my buddy Ron and told him my good fortune and told him we should go out Saturday. We went on Saturday and as I had told Ron if you win they pay you the money right at the window, the more you bet the more you can win. We made a couple of bets that day and both won and walked out with about $ 50.00 in profit, I only made $50.00 a week at my job at UPS, this was great.
Well, soon we were going out to the track regularly and winning and losing but mostly winning early on, even back then I could see myself spending more and more time gambling or being preoccupied with thoughts about gambling. Things began to change, I started betting more and I began to loose more because I no longer could pass races that I did not like a particular horse, I had to make a bet, I needed the action. I believe I crossed the line into uncontrolled gambling about 2 years after I started. I began using money I saved and swore I would never touch to gamble with, but blew it. When I would take a vacation it had to include gambling. I began to spend my education money to fund my gambling. I was not winning like I used to. Even when I had a big win the money seemed to go back to action, By this time I was now betting sports also, and that only takes a phone call to get in more trouble.
About this time I ran into a wonderful girl and asked her to marry me. I also new if I was getting married I had to vow to quit gambling, so I did. After we were married I donít think I placed another bet for about three weeks! Wow, was I in trouble or what, but even then I didnít realize how insidious this disease was, during my six year marriage to my wife Cindy I had to go to her numerous times and tell her what I had done. I lost this money, I maxed out this credit card, and my family had to bail me out, which is the worst thing you can do for a compulsive gambler. I remember begging my mom for the money to bail me out and swearing I would never gamble again, and I said the same thing to my wife, and I meant it.
No sooner after being bailed out, I would last only a few weeks and soon return to action. Now I would have to lie more and cover everything up. My wife warned me if I gambled again she was through. Well, I was caught again and my wife left and went back home, later I got a call from my father in law and he announced that I was sick and if I did not get help I would be divorced. He gave me the number to a recovery group and told me to get to the meeting or there was no hope, so I went. It was incredible, I sat in the meeting and as I heard people speak about there own gambling I felt as though they had followed me around with a video camera, they had done all the things I had done and more. I believed that night that I had a gambling problem and needed to quit but as you will hear in the next paragraph I just was not quite ready to give up my love of gambling. I did stay abstinent from gambling for six months and my wife returned , but our marriage was in horrible shape and made it more difficult than ever to survive with out gambling. Since I was only abstaining from gambling and had not taken on a sponsor or done financial pressure relief, I was told I was probably doomed to failure, but what did they know. I am only 26 years old at the time and at that point had not done nearly half the things some of the older members had, what did they know about me anyway. So one night on the way to the recovery meeting I turned on to the expressway and went to Hawthorne race track instead of the recovery meeting. I could feel myself being physically ill as I entered the racetrack after being 6 months without a bet of any sort. I trembled as I went to the window to bet the money my wife had given me to make a donation at the meeting and pick up some groceries. I made the bet and felt awful but as soon as the race went off, it was as if I never left, all the sick feelings left, it was if I was back home in my pile of garbage, but it was my comfortable pile of garbage, nobody could get to me here, even though I was harming myself I felt a certain sense of security.