2014-10-02 / Opinion

One Man's Lonely Journey

To the Editor:

"Uncle Rich" was a handsome and privileged young man, a direct descendant of the founders of Rhode Island, a signer of the Portsmouth Compact and a 12th great-grandchild of the "Mother of Governors" Francis Latham Clarke Vaughn. He enjoyed all the advantages that generations of his family's hard work and determination had awarded him: boarding school, Princeton University, several trust funds and international friends.

He would travel to the French Riviera with his pals to gamble. Soon, enjoying the thrill, he gambled closer to home, in the Caribbean islands. When travel commitments prevented him from gambling, he longed to get back to the tables.

Then Atlantic City began building casinos. Now, closer to his home, "Uncle Rich" was able to visit the casinos more often, lured there by free hotel rooms and grand buffets. On every trip his plan was to win back the money he had lost the time before, but every time, the casino won, and his income declined. Still, he was certain each time that this would be his moment.

Soon he had an apartment in Atlantic City. As he continued to lose, with a guaranteed trust income each month, he began betting on basketball or football games. Two games, three games, whatever was on; college, NFL, "Uncle Rich" bet on them. Alcohol was to follow and then, separation from his family. He was in a constant angry mood as he lost his month's income. Maybe next month. But he could never get ahead. Soon, he was just subsisting in motels, since his pleasure became his addiction, and he did not want to spend money on anything but gambling. After all, he was surely going to win the next time.

When gambling came to Fort Lauderdale, "Uncle Rich" moved there and alternated between the Hard Rock Casino and the Dog Track. He no longer had to travel; casinos were practically in his backyard. Except he no longer had a backyard. He no longer had a family. He had no contact with his five children. He was so addicted to gambling that he only spoke of the “next big score.” His friends were now con artists and gambling addicts, who easily used him and sponged off of him each month. It was a perpetual merry-go-round; every day he hoped to win, he lost. The IRS got involved.

No home, no family, no money, he died in a cheap motel near the Hard Rock in Ft. Lauderdale.

Of all of the addictions, this may be the worst. There is no hangover to make one sick. It is legal and easily accessible. I urge voters to reject the proposed gambling expansion.

My family and I have been a summer and sometimes winter residents of Newport for 25 years.

Melinda Bobst
Newport

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