The Rising Cost of America's Gambling Addiction
By Sam Skolnik
(Beacon Press, Hardcover, 9780807006290, 256pp.)
Publication Date: July 5, 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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America is becoming hooked on gambling. From the millions of dens and dorm rooms lit by online poker games to the neighborhoods transformed by new casinos and slot machine parlors, legalized gambling has become an integral part of our lives.
With a singular blend of investigative journalism and poignant narratives of gambling addiction, award-winning journalist Sam Skolnik provides an in-depth exploration of the consequences of this national phenomenon. The result is High Stakes, an unflinching look at the explosive growth of legalized gambling in our country, the concurrent rise of addicted gamblers, and what it all means.
Thirty-five years ago, casinos were legal in just one state, Nevada. Today, legalized gambling has morphed into a $92 billion industry established in all but two states. As elected officials are urging voters to expand gambling’s reach, the industry’s supporters and their equally impassioned detractors are squaring off in prolonged state-by-state battles. Millions of Americans are being asked to decide: Are the benefits worth the costs?
Industry officials and their political allies assert that gambling is an effective way to raise revenue and create jobs. But these rewards come at a steep price. Fast-rising numbers of addicted gamblers are causing higher indebtedness and bankruptcy rates, as well as increased divorces, suicides, and gambling-related crime. Skolnik shows how the gambling industry is targeting Asian Americans—and why this population, more than any other ethnic group, is likely to develop gambling problems. He also illustrates how gambling has helped turn Las Vegas into America’s most dysfunctional community, and how the upsurge of poker and Internet gambling has created a new generation of gambling junkies.
In High Stakes, we meet politicians eager to promote legalized gambling as an economic cure-all, scientists wrestling with the meaning of gambling addiction, and ensnared players so caught up in the chase that they’ve lost their livelihoods and their minds. Throughout it all, Skolnik—an avid poker player—never loses sight of the human side of these struggles.
Sam Skolnik began his journalism career as a news aide and freelance writer for the Washington Post. He went on to report for the Legal Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Las Vegas Sun. He's won several national journalism awards and was selected to be a Knight-Wallace journalism fellow for 2007-08.
“This important book will be of interest to all Americans but should be required reading for politicians who see gambling as a panacea for their state’s fiscal problems.”—Library Journal
“Read this book: If you have a casino near your home. If you know someone who gambles. If you have kids. If you gamble. Sam Skolnik has drawn from a mind-boggling array of sources and data on gambling pathology and casino-industry economics, proving that, like it or not, casinos and gambling addiction are inexorably entwined."─Christina Binkley, author of Winner Takes All: Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian, Gary Loveman, and the Race to Own Las Vegas and columnist for The Wall Street Journal
“Combining his award-winning skills as an investigative reporter with his insights as a gambler, Sam Skolnik’s High Stakes examines the underbelly of America’s addiction to gambling. Propelled by the gambling industry’s promises of jobs and economic development, and ushered in by politicians assuring painless revenue streams, Skolnik reveals the truth in this important and long overdue book. High Stakes is a must read for every citizen who wants to understand the true cost of legalized gambling.”—Reverend Tom Grey, Field Coordinator and National Spokesperson for the Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation
“High Stakes pulls off the blinders and reveals the hidden impact of America’s runaway love-affair with gambling. A veteran journalist, Sam Skolnik tells this story with the added chilling authority of someone struggling to control his own poker habit. The result is a fascinating glimpse at the gaming industry’s seductive appeal and the price we're paying as gambling is legalized more and more around the country.”─Pete Earley, author of Super Casino: Inside the "New" Las Vegas
“Sam Skolnik takes you into compelling territory—the nation’s trillion-dollar gambling empire, the world of pathological addiction it has spawned, and its deceitful public relations spin. With the research skills of a journalist, a cast of poignant characters, and a provocative personal story, Skolnik’s High Stakes is an important exposé.”—Sally Denton, investigative reporter and co-author of The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and its Hold on America