Problem Gambling's Grip on Virginia and Tom Dozier's Redemption

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In the era of digital convenience, gambling is more accessible than ever, but for some, it can lead to a spiral of addiction and financial ruin.

In Virginia, a state where gambling opportunities have expanded, the prevalence of problem gambling is a growing concern. We explore the story of Tom Dozier, a man who battled a gambling addiction and is now dedicated to helping others confront this issue.

Tom's Journey into Gambling

Tom Dozier's journey into the world of gambling began at a young age, drawn in by the exhilaration of winning. He quickly became engrossed in horse racing, mastering the intricate details of racing forms. However, what started as a thrilling pastime soon turned into an all-consuming gambling addiction.

Tom vividly describes his struggle, likening it to being trapped in a never-ending cycle. "The minute [I was] about to get out of the game, it's kind of like the mafia — it pulled [me] right back in by hitting another bet," he confesses.

Problem gambling is a widespread issue affecting more than 145,000 people in Virginia alone. Statistics reveal that nine out of 10 Americans have gambled at least once, with lower-income households more susceptible to spending a higher proportion of their income on gambling.

Professor Bob McNab from Old Dominion University highlights the importance of accessibility in driving frequent gambling behavior. Developers targeting areas like Hampton Roads recognize the local nature of the audience. The recent success of Rivers Casino in Portsmouth, where a significant portion of visitors was local, underscores this point.

Related: Virginia Skill Games Ban Could Start Next Month

Awareness and Prevention

Carolyn Hawley, President of the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VCPG), emphasizes the need for preventative measures and increased awareness. As legal gambling expands, more individuals seek help for their gambling-related issues. VCPG has witnessed a 35% increase in people seeking treatment, prompting Virginia to allocate additional resources and funding for qualified providers and treatment networks.

Tom Dozier is a testament to the possibility of recovery from gambling addiction. He now serves on the board of the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling, which is dedicated to assisting individuals and families struggling with addiction. He reflects on his journey, saying, "Their story is just like you. Then they start holding mirrors up to you, and you start holding yourself accountable, and here I am, eight years later."

VCPG's Mission

The Virginia Council on Problem Gambling provides essential support and guidance to those in need. Whether through counseling, support meetings, rehabilitation programs, or other resources, VCPG is committed to helping individuals embark on the path to recovery.

The story of Tom Dozier highlights the challenging journey of overcoming a gambling addiction. It also sheds light on the crucial role organizations like the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling play in raising awareness, offering support, and guiding individuals toward recovery. As gambling opportunities continue to expand, it becomes increasingly important for communities to recognize the signs of problem gambling and provide assistance to those in need.

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