STOP gambling addicts by requiring financial health check in online casinos

    Please help me request that it be mandatory for casinos to take preventative measures to stop gambling addicts. I want credit checks or income verification with loss limitations be required for each individual that gambles online.

    I moved to New Jersey two years ago from DC for a great job, paying $100,000+ per year. Shortly after moving, I was drawn by an advertisement for online casinos, offering a free $25 just for signing up. I didn't have many friends in my new state, so I had a lot of time to myself. I had always enjoyed playing casino games and free money sounded great. I soon found that there were many casinos which offered these incentives to play games for money legally online. Early on, I won about $2,000, and pretty quickly too! How thrilling... I ended up losing that $2,000. I started depositing my own money little by little and lost that too. My little losses started to add up.

    It only took a few months before I was on a huge downward spiral. I lost most of what I had in available in my checking and savings so I took out loans, I sold my car, I sold clothes online, I literally put in every penny I could find towards trying to win back the money I had lost...or at least some of what I now owed to creditors. I would come home after work and play through the night. I would be winning, thinking I should quit, but also wanting to win more and then my luck would change and I would lose it all. So I'd make another deposit to try again, and the cycle would continue. In frustration and desperation of getting the money that I had lost back, I was out of control, betting bigger and bigger (completely sober from drugs or alcohol, also, which makes it even more scary). I knew logically in my head that I should stop, but the addiction was always more powerful and for whatever reason I could not find the willpower to stop physically pressing that bet button. Bet after bet after bet and after losing it all, I would try sleep for an hour, wake up having to go to work, and wish so badly that it was just a dream...

    It was never a dream and no one was there to stop me because no one knew.

    It took two years of somehow finding ways and money to gamble with before I hit rock bottom. I had maxed out my personal credit cards, was unable to get a loan from any lender, and whenever I would receive a paycheck, I had found a way with the online casinos to deposit the balance in my checking account as an ACH payment, which would post the next day and then also deposit that same "available balance" from my checking account as a debit card transaction which withdrew the balance immediately, essentially giving myself 2x the amount in my checking account. If I lost the money, the ACH would overdraw my checking account the next day.

    In the last few months, out of last-resort desperation, the only access I had to money was on my company credit card. At first, I was only using it for necessity, but fell victim to my addiction and soon started making deposits. $10,000 later I was out of options. My boss was notified by the accounting department of my charges to the card and I sat down with my directors and told them everything.

    In two years I have given $250,000+ to the casinos, from my bedroom, from my phone, online from playing games. I owe $120,000 to creditors and have reached out to my family for help. I am lucky to have a very supportive family to help me through this difficult situation. There are resources to help me mentally and my father will take over my finances but to fully recover from this will be a very long road. There is no denying that I am ultimately responsible for my actions, but I believe my situation could have been prevented by the casinos if there were mandates in place to protect consumers.

    Not once was I contacted directly by a casino to ask if I had a problem and that is a huge problem in itself for all persons who choose to gamble. It's easy to spot a problem gambler in person, and if someone were to be monitoring my deposits from the online server, it would be undeniably clear that I had a massive problem. There is nothing that requires them to stop me, or even reach out to ask me if I have problem or suggest I get help.

    I cannot take the casinos to court because this was my "own" doing. The online casinos have a self-exclusion policy, but addiction is such that I never wanted to give up the chance to win. Also, to assume this message prevents the majority of problem gamblers from continuing to place bets is absurd. I know my story is not unique. If I had been cut off when my credit score dropped below an acceptable level, or if I had been prevented from making deposits to the casinos if my losses were greater than a certain percentage of my income, I would have tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands more than I do today. These are the kinds of limitations I want to propose the casinos be required by law to make. How can it be that I do not qualify for a loan, but I can continue to give away whatever money I do manage to find to the casinos so easily?

    I want to do the civil duty of trying to prevent this scenario for anyone else who is in a similar situation. I want to make a monumental change across the nation which will benefit not only others with the horrible condition of gambling addiction, but also benefit the banks and loan issuers who will later be taken to court for a settlement because their client cannot repay, as their money was given to a casino. Gambling addiction is so real and is becoming more of an issue, especially in New Jersey, now that there is online access where you can hide behind a screen and play against computers that are programmed to take your money (the "house edge"). Our economy cannot handle the easy and availability of gambling that these casinos provide online.

    Just as we have background checks for people to purchase guns, we need to be sure people with financial problems cannot gamble online. Self exclusion options are not enough, especially when they are not pushed by casinos to those who have gone beyond their limit.

    Gambling is meant to be fun, but something needs to be done to prevent the addicts from continuing to spiral like I did. I know by implementing this change in policy, our society will be so much better off; banks, creditors and people suffering with gambling addiction.

    Please help me push this issue and have financial health checks be a requirement for the big casinos to operate online.

    Thank you for your support, I hope you will provide your signature to have this change made.
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