“Gambling can turn into a dangerous two-way street when you least expect it. Weird things happen suddenly, and your life can go all to pieces.” – Hunter S. Thompson
NEW YORK CITY – If he can only turn back the time, Francisco, 63, will kneel down in front of his wife, Cynthia, 65, and their two children, Resty, 24; and Analyn, 22, and beg that he be forgiven for destroying their family because of his addiction to gambling.
“But when we sold our house (in Los Angeles) after the divorce, that’s when I realized I could not bring back my family together again,” laments Francisco, who admitted his refusal to fight for his marriage and save it “was the biggest mistake I would carry in my grave.”
Cynthia, a physician in L.A., filed for divorce in 2009 after being married to Francisco for 26 years.
She could not anymore tolerate Francisco’s addiction to gambling, Francisco discloses.
His “excessive” and “uncontrolled” addiction to gambling was the cause of their constant quarrel.
Francisco’s income and savings as hotel security guard had been swallowed by his cravings to regularly bet in the casino.
Francisco says he didn’t realize he was already hooked to gambling even if he was losing $3,000 to $5,000 a week in an Industry City Casino in Los Angeles County.
“My addiction started after I won $5,000 in the poker game. I thought I could win again thus I became a regular casino habitué until I lost heavily and abused my credit cards,” Francisco adds.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), problem gambling affects more than two percent of Americans.
Gambling addicts may reportedly feel an uncontrollable urge to buy lottery tickets, visit casinos, play slot machines, bet on sports, or gamble online.
The specific type and frequency of gambling behavior may vary, warns the NCPG. But in general, gambling addicts will be reportedly unable to control that behavior. NCPG says they will continue gambling, even in the face of negative social, financial, or legal consequences.
Study shows that the majority of people with gambling addictions are men. But this type of addiction can also reportedly affect women.
“My former wife was so affected with my uncontrollable gambling habits because we maintained two joint accounts in two banks,” recalls Francisco, a former seaman.
When Francisco, born in Cagayan de Oro City in the Philippines, filed for bankruptcy in 2008, he left a staggering $109,000 debt.
“There was a time my pockets were empty after I lost heavily in the casino that I couldn’t go home because I had no money left to buy a gasoline for my car,” Francisco sobs. “I was tired, hungry and trembling.”
To avoid “memories of my ugly past”, Francisco relocated in Woodside, Queens here in 2010.
“I missed my family after seven years. I blame nobody but myself. If I did not become a gambling addict, I would still be having dinner with my family, something we did regularly before this unfortunate incident happened in my life,” Francisco tearfully laments.