All Bets Are Off: Losers, Liars, and Recovery from Gambling Addiction
Arnie Wexler, Steve Jacobson
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Arnie Wexler's life as a gambler began on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, flipping cards, shooting marbles, and playing pinball machines. At age fourteen he found the racetrack, a bookie, and started playing the stock market. His obsession with gambling accelerated until a fateful day in 1968 when it all came crashing down.
Wexler's gripping narrative leads us through the dungeon of a compulsive gambler's world—chasing the big win and coming up with empty pockets—and how his addiction drove him and his wife, Sheila, to the edge of life. With help, they managed to escape, and together they have devoted themselves to helping others with the problem they know so well.
Arnie and Sheila Wexler have provided extensive training on compulsive, problem, and underage gambling to more than 40,000 gaming employees and have written Responsible Gaming Programs for major gaming companies. In addition to running the toll-free, national helpline 888-LAST-BET, Sheila and Arnie are consultants to Recovery Road in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, a Sunspire Health private residential treatment facility for adults with chemical dependency and problem gambling.
Steve Jacobson was a sports reporter and columnist for Newsday for more than forty years with a great interest in all aspects of sports. He co-authored a number of books with notable sports personalities. He was named by Associated Press among the top sports columnists and twice was nominated by Newsday for the Pulitzer Prize.
to felony bad check charges after accumulating $822,500 in gambling debts he couldn’t pay. ♦ Tim Donaghy, an NBA referee, went to jail as a result of his gambling addiction. He explained how an official could affect a game’s outcome better than a player. Could he be the only one? ♦ In the 1960s, Mendy Rudolph was the best-known referee in the NBA. But he used to go to the racetrack in disguise. When he died, his widow told the story of how he got a call from Las Vegas offering him money to
improve your spiritual life. Then you reach out and help other people. You can become a sponsor, lead a meeting, and do service in the program in some other way. If you can’t put your mind into a meaningful state, then you’re throwing away what progress you’ve made. Don’t get complacent; that’s what fighting relapse is about. Restitution and Repayment For the first six months, I was pissed working those extra jobs and giving the money to Sheila, all the while arguing with people in the program
out—always running—so I was used to it. The only positive thing in my mind at the time was remembering that when I stopped gambling and went to those meetings, Sheila and I had a bank account with $8 in it. That’s it—eight bucks in the bank. After I stopped gambling, we were building up money in the account and I felt, eventually, that we were going to buy a house. I was working and we were saving money. But for years, we were like ships passing in the night. We had almost no communication for
gambler should put all assets in the spouse’s name in early recovery. If you have no access to money and have an urge, it’s hard to gamble. Handling investments, buying a house, getting married, starting a business—there are many common financial risks associated with day-to-day life. Recovery aims to make it possible for compulsive gamblers to eventually understand which they can safely manage. I don’t own stocks, personally. For me, watching the daily ups and downs of the stock market is too
economics was my favorite subject in high school, I was a natural. This was way before the stock market became computerized and much more sophisticated. I’d find “pink sheets” in garbage cans and the next morning call a brokerage and say I was Henry Smith or some other person, “from Merrill Lynch.” I’d say I wanted to buy 5,000 shares at $2.00 each. Then I’d call back later that day and identify myself as someone else and say I wanted to know what was happening with that stock. If it had gone up,