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Woman shares personal story of gambling addiction as concerns over online sports betting rise

Sports betting supporters are thrilled about what this will do for the state but others worry it will create an issue unlike anything ever seen before.
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 10:56 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2022 at 11:01 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There’s no debate that online sports betting will rake in millions for Louisiana.

There are a lot of people and businesses that stand to benefit when you consider revenue and tourism, but what about those people that lose everything from gambling?

Gail Suchy knows firsthand what it’s like.

“I wanted to commit suicide, I tried to commit suicide the day I was fired,” said Suchy.

Suchy hit rock bottom.

She was stealing from everybody she knew, was fired from her job, and lost so much money it could make your head spin.

She reflected on the most she’s ever lost in one night.

“It was probably $8000 to $10,000. You want to know what’s sad? I probably walked in there with $4000 to $5000 that wasn’t my money. It was some I took from my husband or some I stole from my boss,” said Suchy.

At that moment she knew she needed help.

Suchy eventually landed at The Center for Recovery in Shreveport and later found her way at the Capital Area Recovery Program in Baton Rouge.

“It is something you can never just toss away and think that you don’t have to worry about anymore. It’s an everyday lesson. Every day,” said Suchy.

RELATED: Mobile sports betting to go live in Louisiana on Friday

With online sports betting around the corner, Suchy and recovery specialists fear we’re on the brink of a massive problem.

“Is this an epidemic? That’s putting it mildly. You’re being nice. This is past that,” said Matricia Green, a licensed certified compulsive gambling counselor.

Green, also known to her patients as ‘Ms. Matt’, has 50 years of addiction treatment experience under her belt.

According to Green, she doesn’t have a problem with gambling, it’s the lack of treatment for people who struggle with it as an addiction in the Capitol Region.

“I’m not telling you to don’t gamble because everybody gambles. I have no problem, but if you’re going to put it out there and you know what some of the consequences are, then ok, be ready to deal with the problem,” said Green.

“We need more. How are you going to treat something that’s about to blow you off the map, and you don’t have any treatment,” asked Green. “We need more money. We need to be able to deal with this. We need another in-patient for gambling right here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.”

Green said groups like hers need more funding, so others can see the same turnaround as Suchy.

Suchy currently is a peer support specialist at CARP and helps people on their road to recovery.

The last bet she made was February 12, 2018.

“Ms. Green saved my life. Yes. Definitely. Ms. Green and Capital Area. There’s no doubt,” said Suchy.

Suchy said there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but they need our lawmakers’ help to make it.

“This is where this addiction will take you, but there is open skies and blue skies down the road,” said Suchy.

If you need help, you can sign up for the Confidential Capital Area Human Services Gambling Recovery Program by calling 225-362-5360.

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