Once you’re addicted, you’re addicted, stated Brian Hatch, Author and Host of All In: The Addicted Gambler’s Podcast, as he stressed the importance of affordability checks.
Becoming the latest person to join Martin Lycka’s Safe Bet Show, Hatch emphasized that people who are addicted “can’t control themselves” when it comes to gambling and will go through credit cards, payday loans, regular loans and pawning items just to get money to gamble with.
Kicking off the latest show, and the phrase of a Monty Python film, Hatch, a former addict himself, told us about the ‘Life of Brian’. Starting in 2000 when he was a freshman in college, Hatch won his first game of blackjack in a tribal casino and admitted that he was “hooked straight away”.
This then rumbled on to the point when he was driving two and a half hours one way to go to the casino instead of the classes he should have been attending. Three months later, he realized he was addicted and called the helpline under the disguise of writing a paper about gambling harm.
However, Hatch continued to gamble and was subsequently kicked out of college for not attending classes.
It wasn’t until 2007 when Hatch attended his first Gamblers Anonymous meeting, then attended another in 2009, and, while lauding the organization and stressing it was “worth it”, that initial meeting, located in a cold church basement, left him feeling uncomfortable.
“The first meeting I went to, there were three other people. All of them were about 20 to 25 years older than me. I was uncomfortable as a 24-year-old kid. It was in a cold church basement.
“It wasn’t welcoming and I had a lot of anxiety. So I went to the first meeting, but I did not go back to the second meeting. The third, the fourth took me another year and a half to go to my second meeting. And when I went to that meeting, that’s the one that made a difference for me.”
Now having a more clear understanding of Hatch’s origins of gambling addiction, the podcast host provided a clearer thought of his stance on affordability checks.
He questioned that, even if operators or land-based casinos put affordability checks at $5,000, how many people can gamble that amount in a single evening.
He continued: “That would be there just to make sure that there’s no harm after that amount of money. You know, if you cut them off at a certain point, they’re not going to lose that extra money that they could lose.
“I think affordability checks are a good idea because I don’t think people can control themselves when it comes to this.”
“I think having some sort of affordability check at the door or when you go to get more money at the casino is a good idea. I can’t believe it would be that complicated, considering most casinos do a credit check anyways.”
Circling back towards the end of the show, Lycka raised that Hatch was a very “vociferous and articulate advocate” of not allowing credit cards for gambling purposes, a similar route that Massachusetts has gone down.
Explaining why he thinks this is the correct avenue, Hatch commented: “I gambled with credit cards and when you do that, there’s an automatic fee. When you take money off your credit card and it is there presumably for emergencies because the credit card is money you don’t have. It’s not your money.
“This is debt that you’re accumulating by using your credit card to gamble. Not being able to use your credit card, at least if you gamble away all your cash, you would still have a credit card to be able to buy food and gas and pay your bills.”
The Safe Bet Show with Brian Hatch also looked at the differences between regulated and black market sites, in the eyes of an addict, efficient tools to convey the right messages and the role the health system in the US, and beyond, play in addressing the issues of problem gambling.