THE STORIES

Stories
Myth vs. Reality
Online Petition
RESOURCES
Resources
DONATE
NEWS
Jim's Story
Mark's Story
Mike's Story
Craig's Story
Lisa's Story
Paul's Story
Kathy's Story
Jay & Jackie's Story
Dave's Story
Terry's Story
Kerry's Story
Tina's Story
Georgie's Story
Eric's Story
Faye's Story
Marie's Story
Eliza & Her Teenage Daughter's Story
Diana's Story
Sandy's Story
Laurie's Story
Brian's Story
A former Albertan's Story
Tim's Story
Joanne's Story
Buckie's Story
T.P.'s Story
A Desperate Wife's Story
Darlene's Story
Judy's Story
Heather's Story
Brenda's Story
Debbie's Story
Troy's Story
Chai's Story
Kelly's Story
Donald's Story
Jane's Story
Ethel's Story
John's Story
Shirley's Story
Gerald's Story
John's Story
Jane's Story
Steve's Story
Clarence's Story
Anders’ Story
Louise’s Story
Another Story
Terry's Story
Laura's Story
Greg's Story
Jim's Story
V Mason's Story
Barb's Story
M.C.'s Story
James' Story
Jeff's Story
Marianne's Story

We invite you to share your story. You can write and submit it yourself or contact one of our volunteers to give you a hand:

Write and submit it yourself:
  • Click here to open your email browser to send us your words. We will read all of these accounts and post as many as we can.
  • Please include your name and indicate whether you want your name attached to the posting or wish to remain anonymous.
  • Please also include your phone number. One of our volunteers will call and confirm the details of your story.
  • Please limit your story to 250 words.

JIM'S STORY

I was always a gambler for as long as I can remember. First it was bingo (I had won 500.00) then pull tickets and bingo. One night after winning at bingo I decided to take my girlfriend and sister and friend to the bar to celebrate my winnings. I had never seen a VLT before and decided to try one, and you guessed it I had hit a royal flush on a 10 bid which was 1000.00. It was so unexpectedly exciting so I gave my girlfriend 10.00 to put in the machine next to me and she hit a royal flush too!!! That was it, I was hooked. It was a rush like I had never gotten before.

I have always made very good money in the line of work that I am in, so I always had money to fuel my addiction. I only stopped gambling for 3 months because I went to G.A. and in that short time managed to save 7000.00, ... only to fall back into the trap again and haven't stopped since and I'm getting worse. I hate myself every time I leave after playing them. I have hurt so many people besides myself. I know that I am definitely not alone with this addiction and I want to stop sooooo badly.

I just get sick to my stomach just thinking about all the time and loads of money that I can never get back. I'm still addicted and sometimes can't even see myself living without having some kind of gambling in my life. I feel helpless over this addiction and want to stop but at the same time don't. It is such a love hate relationship, and yes, I to have felt that this addiction is so strong that suicide is the only way out. I hope that I can get some help and find a way out before I go out of my mind.

Jim, Halifax Regiional Municipality

MARK'S STORY

My name is Marcus and I have been a VLT addict for over 10 years and I have suffered greatly in terms of financial, emotional and spiritual stress from these machines. I have been a subscriber for some time to your website and it gives me comfort to know that I am not suffering alone due to these vile machines.

Over the past decade I have wondered how I got into this mess and, until March 23, 2007 why I couldn't solve this problem. It has lead me on a spiritual quest and forced me to philosophically contemplate my plight to solve my problem. I believe that I have solved it and I would like to share with you some of my views, beliefs and attitude so maybe I can help others or help gain awareness for the general public. Most people with this addiction feel they have a disease and they are spiritually void and they blame themselves for succumbing to the evils of VLT's. I believe that this not the case. Those may be harsh words but when an addict chooses to get help after losing hope they begin to come to terms with their addiction and try to understand it. Many people will tell them that it's a matter of choice; you have the ability to choose to play or not to play. I say NO! That is not the case. The government is forcing that choice upon their citizens by placing VLT's in society without the citizens permission.

I didn't even know how to play these things. I picked 5 reel and started to spin. As I was spinning, I noticed that a fellow gamer had hit plums due to the sounds and the flashing lights. I asked him how much does that pay? He replied that it was not as much as what my machine was paying and then I looked over and saw that I hit jackpot (1500 credits or $375). Man, was I delighted in my newfound wealth!! I cashed out and put in another $50 but there was no outcome. Over the next week I was in that lounge playing the machines and hit jackpot twice more, I was actually thinking of quitting my job because it was too easy. That is when addiction kicked in.

I found out that almost any bar had VLT's so I started playing at different bars and was losing a considerable amount of money. There were times that my whole paycheck would go into these machines. I started feeling financial stress and borrowed thousands of dollars to recoup my losses. Well, I am sure you know how the story goes and now it is 10 years and $200,000 later. But, I survived (I have thought many times of suicide) and I am not playing them anymore and this is where it gets interesting. I call it a radical approach to solving an irrational problem.

On March 23, 2007 I pawned my high end home theater system to buy my girlfriend her birthday gift, but at that time I could not carry large sums of cash because my instincts would kick in and would lead me to the closest bar that had VLT's and that is what I did. I said to myself, just $50 that's all, I'm sure the rest is rhetorical but I did blow all the cash into the machines. After that, I sat at the bar and ordered a six pack of beer to drown my sorrows and then I got a calm feeling. So I put down my beer and said to the bartender I would be back in a few minutes to retrieve them. Before anything more is said, people who know me know that I am a pacifist. I then walked up to a VLT, grabbed it and tipped it over and smashed it to the floor and then I did the same to another one. Man, you should have seen the commotion that I stirred up. Anyways, I walked up to the bar, grabbed my beer and walked out and waved goodbye. I felt better than I had for 10 years. I perfectly knew what I was doing and I wasn't drunk and I did this without weapons as there have been stories of people taking guns or axes to the machines.

I do realize that this is not an isolated incident and you must have heard many of these stories. So, I walked home and sat on my deck and waited for the police. They came and charged me with mischief under $5000 with the conditions that I couldn't frequent any licensed establishment that had VLT's. I was very relieved as I do respect the law. Over the past few months, I have contemplated how I am personally going to deal with this situation regarding my trial. I have adjourned it twice but now I believe that I am prepared to defend myself. Our provinces are killing their citizens by providing them the opportunity of addiction to VLTs. A minority of people make up the majority of the revenues and profits of VLTs, and this helpless minority are either contemplating suicide or have fully committed to the act. These were honest, hardworking citizens that were paying taxes and had families. They were like me, they did not know how to solve their problem and in the end they turn to the ultimate solution that they believed that was available to them, suicide. It is not right. Many people have questioned me 'how can you be a pacifist and turn to violence to solve this issue?'. My reply is 'what is the final act of violence' and that final act is when a person takes their own life because the government knowingly put VLTs in society to affect that person who belongs to the minority. How can a government get away with killing their citizens? I would like to see a picture of a collage of gravestones with the names of the people that have committed suicide due to VLT addiction with the caption 'Before these citizens of the government left, they gave their government their all and without a thank you from the government'. These people did not know of terms like: variable reward schedules, learned helplessness and dissociative states.

There is no cure for addiction, only learning how to live with it. They may think they are cured but they are recovered through fear. Fear that they might slip back into addiction because of the ubiquitousness of these machines. They can never go back into a licensed establishment with the innocence they had before the government placed the VLTs there. I am prohibited by law from going to these establishments and my respect for the law has replaced the compulsiveness that the machines have instilled into my psyche. I have now, since March 23, 2007 not even thought of playing those machines when I have had large sums of money, not one thought. This was a godsend to me and I do not live in fear of these machines anymore. By the way, if you like, I will let you know how the trial went. It takes place in Medicine Hat, Alberta at the Law Courts on Tuesday, July 31 at 2:00 pm. Due to more adjournments the actual trial did not occur until June 27, 2008.

Here is the message from Mark that outlines the results:

I went to trial in Medicine Hat June 27, 2008 for my actions and they are as follows: -probation until October 01, 2008 -$200.00 donation to dare -$318.00 in restitution and a future life without VLT's ----------PRICELESS Think about it!!!!!! With the deepest sincerity,

Marcus, Medicine Hat, Alberta

MIKE'S STORY

My name is Mike and I am a compulsive gambler. My gambling started at 14 years old playing a .10$ fruit wheel machine, but never realized it to being gambling. I used to watch friends play VLTs and always told them they were crazy. In December of 1994, I placed my first bet on a VLT and won. I continued to play on a small scale and it progressed to large sums of money within a year. Soon I was spending money for necessities and lying to my wife as to where the money was going and wasting valuable time doing so. I started attending GA in 1999 half heartedly after a suicide attempt which was an off and on venture, changing my dates frequently with no real sobriety. In 2000, I attended a private rehab (42 days) in Ontario really only obtaining 6-7 months of abstinence. In 2005 my wife left with our two young daughters. Common sense would have most persons come out of the fog and at least attempt to rid the nonsense out of their life in an effort to put their life back on track, but it only got worse and the lure of the escape a VLT provides was/is too strong. I went back to rehab only as a means of getting my family back and I am still struggling today because the VLTs have been my coping mechanism since 1995.

Now it is 2008, my marriage was never salvaged and I have alienated myself from my children and siblings. I have lied, cheated, stole, and deprived people closest to me as I have spent upwards of $300,000 thus far, was recently diagnosed with MS, have declared personal bankruptcy, have had failed relationships, am struggling to hang on to my job, and have one or two impersonal friendships. Not to mention that I am addicted to alcohol now as I have spent countless hours in the bars. The human devastation caused by a VLT addiction is clearly widespread. I have learned that the acronym is not Video Lottery Terminal, but is Victory Loss Turmoil and it is criminal that our governments allow and profit from a person's demise knowing they are designed to entice & addict players while offering little to those who become entrenched in the addiction. I do have sympathy for government as they are also addicted to gambling!! They are addicted to the $, no matter what the cost is to society.

Mike
Moncton, New Brunswick

CRAIG'S STORY

I believe you should pressure the VLT providers to set up a card and only the card can operate the machine. It would be similar to a bank card and you will need to go to the cashier of the establishment to put funds on your card. You'll probably need to have 2 cards so you can hold the machine for if you run out or you can figure a way for the cashier to hold the machine for the gambler. The big thing behind this is, people will see how much they are losing and that will be concrete. This is my suggestion.

It is amazing the number of people that are addicted to these machines but if you ask people, here is what they say, Even when you mentioned they’re designed for the Gov’t to make $, they keep playing:

I’m just ahead

I broke even

I won $350 last week (but never say what they've lost)

I’m down just a few dollars

I only play this machine (but when you see her in 2 weeks, time, same response but different machine)

I only gamble at this bar

I only bet when the cherries or bonus is high

I only bet maximum or I only bet low

It is just a past time

I only spend $20

I do it while I’m waiting for my spouse

I don’t have a problem with them, I can stop anytime

I only play with winnings

I only play until my drink is gone

If I double my money, I take it out.

If I win some money, I don’t go below a certain level and I take it out at a certain level so I am always playing with winnings.

I only play when I am away from my home town”

I had a bad day yesterday or last week but now I’m back to even

They only say what they’ve won and it is amazing, everyone in Gander is even or ahead


NB This suggestion is that of the writer and not necessarily the opinion of the GameOverVLTs group. Editor

Craig D., Newfoundland

LISA'S STORY

Hi my name is Lisa and I am an addicted gambler. My addiction started slowly and ended up being a nightmare. I am a mother of 2 beautiful children. One day I took important money that was intended for something else and I threw it ALL away on VLTs. The aftermath of that day, right before Easter, was too much to bare, so I attempted suicide. I called for help but nobody listened, so I went down the wrong path again spending $1600-2000 a month always hiding finances, until one day I could not hide them anymore. I had a mental breakdown and thoughts of suicide were very strong, but my daughter was home that evening and thank God she was. They say we have a choice to put money in and how much, but I have learned the hard way we don't have a choice, something takes over in our minds and the rest is history. I have since received a lot of help, I have stopped gambling and I want to join the fight to ban these evil machines. I feel in my heart I should be dead, but God is giving me the strength to do this for my children and also for the next person who commits suicide due to their addiction and sense of hopelessness.

Lisa Cote

PAUL'S STORY

I started gambling in 1992 during an emotional time in my life. I had left my job and taken another one in Yarmouth. I am a health care professional with five years service. My wife's job in Yarmouth fell through and I ended up spending 6 months alone except when she visited every weekend. I felt socially isolated, so I started to go to the bars, not to drink, but to find others to talk to. My trouble started not when I lost $20-$40 dollars in an evening but when I won $1200 dollars in one evening. From there I began to gamble more frequently. I would spend my time with the machine, paying attention to those around me only when they patted me on the back for my wins. I hid my losses. The intermittent positive reinforcement that the machine supplied by my wins fed my addiction. Soon I began to lie to cover my tracks. I spent more and more money and time gambling. By 2001, I was lying to my wife about where I was and had set up a separate gambling bank account, having given the bank clear instructions on the privacy of this account. The true cost of gambling involves much more then the money used through gambling, the real personal cost comes with the time spent away from home, the web of lies and the shame of personal addiction which isolates gamblers from there family and friends. Interestingly, what started my recovery was the biggest win I ever had, but before the evening was through, I had spent that big win and taken an additional $300 from my credit card.

Suddenly, I realized I was not gambling to win or I would have left with the money. This realization was the eye-opener that caused me to start attending gamblers anonymous. I am happy to say that I have now been free of gambling in any way for more then two years.

Through GA, I began to realize that gamblers are not bad people, they are good people who have made poor decisions and have been trapped in the vicious cycle. A gambling addiction can happen to anyone. These machines provide no benefit to society except for the money they raise for the government, but at what cost? Gambling robs people of their most valuable asset, their self-esteem, and in doing so isolates the gambler from those who could help them because of lying and the shame the gambler feels. Winning at gambling both started my gambling career and ended it but I never really won at all. I thank GA for my continued recovery from the clutches of gambling.

Paul, Dartmouth (Last name withheld by request)

KATHY'S STORY

Although the VLTs can only be found in bars in Newfoundland, the devastation remains the same. I was dealing with bouts of depression and the VLTs soon became my trusted companion providing an escape from all my woes. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the price that I would pay, not just financially, but emotionally. On July 04, 2005, I made an attempt to take my own life. I could no longer deal with the person that I had become. A once loving, helping, caring individual was now a monster whose first concern was obtaining more funds for gambling. Fortunately for me, I was flooded with support from family, friends and colleagues, most of whom were shocked. Gambling, unlike other addictions, can be so easily hidden. I recently attended a treatment center in Newfoundland to deal with this addiction. These wonderfully trained professionals still have a lot to learn about VLTs. The assumption is that it is just another form of gambling addiction, and I beg to differ. As the stats of bankruptcy, suicide and family destruction roll in, they will become more knowledgeable. I wish you all the best in your efforts to ban the VLTs. I have been gambling free since that fateful day and know it will be a life long struggle.

Kathy (Last Name Withheld)
Newfoundland

JAY & JACKIE'S STORY

Are we at risk?

All along we have said to each other that these people who have gambling problems do so because they are weak, can’t control their actions and have nothing better to do with themselves except sit in front of a [machine] and waste their money. We’ve often gone to play. We’ve won some and lost some but lost more than we won. At first, I would put in maybe five or ten dollars – how could I waste my hard earned money that way? Then, I would think to myself, “well, what’s the difference between spending some money gambling or wasting my money getting drunk or whatever, I’ve wasted my money worst ways. We don’t play as often as someone with a gambling problem, but we are playing more often. Getting that [hit] is so exciting. But, too often than not, the feeling now of losing more than five or ten dollars (up to fifty dollars and more now) is something you can’t explain. It’s guilt and regret taken to a much higher extreme.

The excuses are becoming more and more ridiculous "Well, we get paid next week; well, we don’t really need to pay that bill until next Friday; well, I only have 20 bucks – what’s that gonna get me? Well, if I put this last twenty in, I might win it all back". The amounts going into those machines are constantly climbing. The excuses are becoming more ridiculous. Hearing about people with gambling problems and how it’s ruined their lives wasn’t something either of us could really take seriously. After all, THESE are the people who are weak and have nothing better to do. The fact is that gambling is fun. It gives you a rush when you get that big “hit”. And if you lose you know you can always try again – especially the next day when you know all those people with problems sat there all night and pumped their money in, maybe giving you a better chance. Is this how it starts?? Now we can see how the game traps a person. Luring them in with feelings of being a winner, crashing you down when you lose only to bring you back up again when you get another hit, and so on and so on. The point is, we both completely support taking VLTs away. We can understand how people can become addicted and ruin their lives. Yes, take some out, reduce playing times, dish out money to “help” the gamblers – these are ways for the government to wash their hands clean. This is only a strategy to deceive people into thinking they really care. They don’t because they make too much money from them. If they really care about people who are ruining their lives, why won’t they just get rid of them? That’s right – they’re making too much money. Makes us wonder who has all the luck in gambling.

Jay & Jackie Gilmore

DAVE'S STORY

Please for the sake of the well being and for the lives of those addicted to VLTs , GET RID OF THEM. I have never smoked, was not a drinker, but made the mistake of putting money into a VLT in a convenience store. That was the biggest mistake of my life. I truly believe that our government deliberately allowed them into convenience stores to expose them to the overall population, something that just putting them into bars would not have done. Our government had a plan and it was to introduce these VLTs to a large number of individuals and hope to get as many people interested or hooked on them as possible. Today I am a pathological gambler who is desperately trying to regain control of my life, my self respect, the respect of others and make right the things I have done to feed my addiction. I fully understand why people have committed suicide because of this addiction. It seems sometimes this is the easiest resolve to the torment and hell created by this addiction. Our government does not fully understand the scope of this problem or if they do, just don't care because of their huge cash windfall from these VLTs. I personally know the impact this is having on me, and the anguish it has created for my loved ones. I personally am seeking counseling and desperately want to make right what I have done, but if it were not for the VLTs I would be enjoying my life and family right now. The truth of the matter is, there are thousands and thousands out there just like me who our government has exposed to this hell. Peoples futures, livelihoods, dreams and families are going to be destroyed all because our government puts their monetary windfall as their main priority.

PLEASE GET RID OF THESE VLTs

Living a hell because of VLTs,
Dave (Real Name Withheld)

TERRY'S STORY

The following is an open letter written to Premier John Hamm and sent to gameovervlts.com…

Dear Mr. Hamm,

My mother turned 65 this year and retired after 31 years of dedicated service to her employer. This should be a joyous occasion and should also be an opportunity for this mother of five, this grandmother of twelve, and this great-grandmother of three to reap the benefits of her labors and enjoy the retirement she so rightly deserves. However, you as the head of our provincial government have taken this away from this woman by not better researching the downside of VLT's before allowing them to be so readily accessible, and worse than that, you still allow this form of gambling to go unchecked. This once hard working and proud woman now sits waiting for her monthly pension cheque to come so she can race to the closest VLT in her neighbourhood to throw her hard earned and irreplaceable money away. She lives under constant threat of eviction from her apartment, of having her electricity disconnected, no longer able to maintain her cable service, barely holding on to her telephone service, not eating well enough because she put her food along with her heart medications into the VLT's. This woman who put her family first and worked hard to provide for her five children without ever using your welfare system now depends on her family to 'borrow' from them to pay for her basic necessities. She had a heart attack in May '04 because of the stress associated with her VLT addiction and is now going without much needed medications. This ONE PERSON whose plight is DIRECTLY caused by VLT's is having a NEGATIVE IMPACT on TWENTY-SIX family members who are all sharing the misery being caused by YOUR decision to allow these VLT's such free reign to not only wreck havoc but also RUIN lives to the point of self-destruction. You sir are the ONLY stumbling block to correcting this situation involving many more Nova Scotians than you are admitting to. Of course I'm not naive enough to think this open letter to you will make any difference, but I have to try...your policies are destroying too many families and you alone have the authority to change this deadly situation and make the required corrections before another Nova Scotian is BURIED ALIVE by these machines. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter and I hope when reading this letter you will remember the oath you took to act and speak in good faith on behalf of and for all Nova Scotians.

Sincerely,
S.F.K., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

KERRY'S STORY

I am a gambler and I appreciate everything your group is doing to get rid of these machines. I have gambled for 16 years, lost everything I had, went bankrupt, and moved out of province just to try to get away from them. It helped for a while but when I went out to go bowling one night, I saw them there. Then I went back there to try them again and now I am playing them more than I want to. I am on prescription pills and I have been on them now for three years because I have thoughts of suicide. I know that if they don't get rid of them (VLTs) all, it isn't gonna help matters. It is very hard for a gambler to admit or talk about these machines so I would like to say thanks for everything you guys are doing.

Kerry (real name withheld by request)

TINA'S STORY

I started playing VLTs in 1997 after my marriage ended. It was innocent enough. I never dreamed that I would become addicted. After 2 years, I was borrowing money from the local service district account where I was the secretary-treasurer. I later tried counseling and soon realized that I was hooked big time. The money I owed and was unable to repay was a constant worry. I suffered from headaches, neck and shoulder pain, not able to sleep, terrified that I would be found out. Although my family and friends were aware of the gambling, they did not know that I was stealing to continue my addiction. Finally, in June 2004, when I knew I was about to be caught, I totally flipped out. Unable to imagine what my life would be like, I opted to end it. Within seconds of actually attempting to do so, I thought of my 3 beautiful grand kids. I called a crisis line and was told about a rehab in Corner Brook and I decided then and there that I would do whatever it took to find recovery. I was in a treatment center for 21 days, and I am forever grateful. I have since been through the court system accepting my consequences and trying to make amends. I truly believe that all VLT machines must be banned. My wish is that other people, who have yet to put even a quarter in, be spared the nightmares that I have experienced and thank God I am still here.

Tina
Newfoundland

GEORGIE'S STORY

My name is Georgie, and I'm a compulsive gambler. I'm from NB and I'm writing through this site because I don't know who to talk to in NB. I started playing about four years ago for fun, but the fun turned into a nightmare. Now I have a big problem. I'm depressed all the time and my family is suffering because of me. When I go out to gamble, and I lose quite a bit of money, all I want to do is sleep so the pain will go away. But after two or three days of sleep, I wake up to find out that everything is worst than ever. Sometimes I'd rather not wake up at all. The worst part of all is that I don't know why I can't stop. My husband is very kind to me and he doesn't deserve this. I could tell you a lot more, but I'm not a very good typist and it takes me forever to write this. By the way, did I mention that I'm a retired school teacher who would never have thought that I'd do this? My wish right now is to be able to get rid of the VLTs around me. People who are not addicted will never know what it's like to live with this pain. Thank you for listening to me.

Georgie
New Brunswick

ERIC'S STORY

My story is one of combined sorrow and thanks caused by the VLTs. Because of my fall into the world of addiction I was forced into many choices, some that have actually inadvertently help me. I quit smoking and some excess drinking. I needed all my monies to feed my addiction. Thanks to help from a group of some exceptional people that I probably would have never met if it wasn't for my addiction, I have a new found life. Even through a lot of therapy and soul searching I can't say exactly when I crossed from that "entertainment" ploy that got me started to the full blown there goes the pay-check again addiction, but I do remember the outcome. Due to my addiction to the VLTs, I lost almost everything I accrued over my fifty year life span to the point of contemplating taking my own life. I did have my investments, RSPs, some savings, excellent credit, self worth and a relatively normal somewhat satisfying life. Then the VLTs came into my life taking all of that away and eventually took my soul. I didn't even know who I was anymore or why was I crying all the time. I felt there was no one to blame but myself for destroying any chance of me retiring before I was fifty as I planned twenty five years ago, let alone find a mate and live a normal life. My life had become just an existence. I was becoming a robot, just doing what I was programmed to do, work, play the machines, sleep and maybe eat if there was time. My health was even being affected, I was gaining a lot of weight from not eating regular coupled with no form of exercise at all, and when I did eat, it was a quick easy food usually very unhealthy. My attitude towards life was consistently getting worse as the years went by. Funny thing was though I could manage to fool a lot of people into believing I was "OK", I was living a lonely life with no wife or girl friend. I could convince them it was my choice to be that way and I was happy. Little did they know how many days and nights I would just lock myself in my home not answering the phone for fear of those dreaded phone calls on 'when are you going to pay your bills?' and just cry myself to sleep. All my life, going to casinos and such, slot machines never interested me. I knew they where just gambling machines that generated a lot of revenue for the establishment and that's why there was so many of them rather than the tables. That's the biggest thing about the VLTs, they where not considered "gambling machines" but rather something to entertain you while you have a drink or two with some time to kill. When you first put your money in it flashes across the screen that they are for entertainment purposes. Man was I a sucker for entertainment. Just couldn't seem to get enough. Well I guess that's my real wish, I really hope for these machines to be pulled from the bars and put back where they belong, right along side the electronic slot machines so people will know they are actually gambling real money not just entertaining themselves.

Yours sincerely,

Eric

FAYE'S STORY

Hi, my name is Faye Keddy, and I would like to share my story about those damn VLTs. In 1994, my husband and I began playing them, starting out with $20.00 each, and getting real excited if we won. But then, we would drop the winnings back in and go home saying, as we had hundreds of times, we should have left while we were up. As time went on, we were pumping in hundreds of dollars, leaving us broke till next pay. I had many sleepless nights wondering how we were going to make it to the next payday. Sickening!!! In October 2004 I told my husband (who had never had to deal with the bills) that I couldn't take it any longer and that was it, NO MORE OF THEM DAMN MACHINES. I do have to say, I quit smoking 2 years ago after smoking for 31 years and I found it easier than giving up the machines. Now we are finally over the addiction, but we are having a hard time with the bills that we neglected for so long. I got a call today that one of them are taking us to court. I can't do anything about it. My husband has been off work since April waiting on surgery that is scheduled for August. I really wish I had advice as to how to deal with all of this. I saw one of the girls that works at Treaty Gas and I asked her, "how do you go home and sleep at night, knowing what those machines are doing to people?" She said she understands but she has to work. I would like to know why the Indians have rights to keep them in, you know they will only get rich and add more machines. I have had suicidal thoughts in the past and now I grieve for the people who lost loved ones. My husband and I realize now all of the pain from these machines, and he says he is so glad I was strong enough to say that's it, NO MORE.

God Bless,

Faye Keddy

MARIE'S STORY

I started gambling at the age of 19. I am now 23, a single mother to my six year old son. I have changed into a horrible mother since starting to play the VLTs. I am no longer the same daughter, girlfriend, mother or friend that I was five years ago. I have lost my entire welfare check, pay checks and tips numerous times. I now have bad credit because of unpaid loans. I have stolen and sold people's belongings. I lied, stole, cheated and manipulated just to get $20 to feed my addiction to the VLTs, knowing that this money should have gone to feed my son.

My health has been affected by panic attacks and depression, but most of all, it is the shame of what I have done. I have lost everything to these machines, and I can't understand it. My rent is two months behind and my phone and cable is now disconnected. There's only one thing these VLTs has left to take from me and that is my life. I am so grateful for my son as he has kept me going. These machines need to be destroyed so that people like me can try to get our lives back on track. I no longer know what it feels like to be happy, and I want that back.

Marie Smith (Real Name Withheld By Request)

ELIZA & Her TEENAGE DAUGHTER'S STORY

I have been following the site of GameOverVLTs and I have been trying to think how best to put my story into words. Well, I have a motivator that says it all. The following was written by my teenage daughter who used this in her debate class on current news articles. Her contribution to the debate was the opening statement on gambling, to ban or not to ban the VLTs in Nova Scotia. Her written assignment; although it says it all, only shows a very small corner of the ugly painted picture of her "new" world as a result of my addiction to the VLT gambling. So out of the mouths of babes, I will now type word for word my story that I would like to share for the site (including her typos or misspelled words).

"Coming from someone whose life has been affected by this addiction that can be easily hidden, I feel as though in many ways it is worse than a drinking or drug problem because, you can easily hide it and it can get worse until you have completely hit rock bottom. When I was younger I got whatever I wanted. I never wanted for anything now and for the past four years, I have been exposed to neglect, getting things for holidays or just as gifts and having them being taking back within weeks, going without things I was used to having. Now I know what it's like to be "poor". I guess I could take it as a good thing, but it has caused me damage mentally and has made me become the person I am now. I am trying to change because I am not being my all and I am not taking my life as seriously as I should. I guess you can say "God works in mysterious ways", because every day will be a learning experience for me from this day forward. I have decided to take this in a positive perspective and let it not affect my life from here on in, I think these VLTs will be banned in there own because our society has learned to wait until things get deadly and I guess the whole world has to be emotionally effected by this. I hate to say that but it is just how the world works. Maybe someone significant in the world will hit rock bottom with this sickness and then the world might realize the danger and that enough is enough, who knows! Our society is based on reactive not proactive change and until that changes. I guess everyone has to be affected be the ways of the world till something is done about it. In conclusion, our youth need to take a stand and realize that we're going down hill and we need to take this stand or else nobody will. If you haven't realized, we are the future and everything we do and say will affect our future. You may not see it yet but if something isn't done and done soon, we are going to have a bull shit society of all kinds of things I won't even go into in this discussion."

WOW! And, if you can only imagine, I had been so consumed with the numbness of the life that I was not even in a position to acknowledge and/or validate my baby's pain, anger, and mixed bag of emotions, coming out in the words describing her reality that my life style of VLT playing has caused. Even reading the pain in her words, that alone which should be enough to stop any "right-thinking" and "healthy" loving parent, it doesn't. Let me try to enlighten the "decision makers" and those non-players who may read this, your own self-esteem, self-worth, and logic is so messed up by your own deep seeded hidden pain and shame, that even as harsh as this is coming from your own child, it does not take you out of your "numb dumb" state!! So you keep on playing, keep on destroying, and keep on hurting yourself and your loved ones by adding to their pain EVEN WHEN they have the courage to express it!!! I write this story for my own therapy or in the event my words can help make a difference to someone in a position to bring about removal of the VLT! Also for the player who may not have a youth or loved one in their life with the courage to share their pain. We players can all stop fooling ourselves to think they (our family members) don't know! When families are breaking down with no obvious "visible" reasoning, one of the first suspects should be are they caught up on one of the horrible provincial highways known as VLT Destruction. So I say, put some money into these poor road conditions that are killing and hurting so many in our province! Lastly, I write this story in honor and in memory to the young lady Naomi Kidston, a Mom who lost her chance to raise her children. Regardless of the circumstances of her cruel passing from this world, to all of us addicted, her challenges with addiction has to speak volumes, she represents you and I..., cause addiction is addiction, is addiction, none of us know how far this goes! QUESTION! When part of the news coverage states she was addicted to playing the VLTs..., do those who keep them here not feel they may have as much of a hand in her perhaps not having the strength to get on a new road in life?

Eliza & Her Teenage Daughter (Real Names Withheld By Request)

DIANA'S STORY

I am an addict. Walking down a street, we could pass and you would never know it. Yet, I am. I go hungry for my drug. I sell my possessions to pay bills, which grow bigger and bigger. Each day another part of my life falls away. You may not see it, my shame, my guilt, keeps it and me well hidden. Yet I feel the emptiness grow larger and larger. Once I thought as you are probably thinking right now, that it would never happen to me, I have willpower, I am this, I am that. How easily in my ignorance I condemned, judged, looked and found another human being's flaws. The reason, 'at least in my mind', that kept me safe, that I could never become one of them. Yet, here I am addicted. All it took was one hurt to big for me to handle, one problem I just couldn't seem to solve. A bit of fun to take way the worries for a while. Nothing 'dangerous', just a couple of quarters in a machine with flashing lights, no big deal. A magic pill I didn't even have to swallow, because you know I'm careful to not take drugs. I'm a mother, a grandmother, I would never think of doing something as dangerous, as life threatening, as that.

I has having fun, it's OK, it must be OK, they are owned by our government, and our government is a 'good government', not one of those 'way over there', who torture people in dark rooms, starve people, kill people. Yet, here I sit, my mind tortured, my life in tatters, at times thinking death is the only way out. So confused that there is any doubt, any debate about VLTs and the question of getting rid of them. When faulty products are recalled due to even one death, there is no 'let's wait and see'. Let's wait and see how many people will die, how many will be hurt. No one blames the person who used the faulty product. There is no debate about personal freedoms, if it kills, it kills. How is it that our government, our good government, has the right to play Russian Roulette with this product, VLTs. Why is it that our government, elected and paid very well to serve the citizens of Nova Scotia, to protect them from danger, can continue to produce, ignore and make money from this dangerous product. I am not sure how to end this as my story isn't over. My day to day battle continues. Maybe I will win, maybe I will lose, but I refuse to be invisible, to be quiet, to stay hidden. I pray with all of my heart that 'my story' never becomes 'your story'.

Diana L. Smith
38 Pleasant St.
North Sydney, N.S. B2A 1K9
(902)794-1927 - until it is disconnected

(Note from editor: Diana would like to start a group in the Sydney area to carry on the work of gameovervlts.com. Please contact her if you wish to help get this started.)

SANDY'S STORY!

I am a VLT addict. I have been struggling with this disease for the last 5 yrs and have been gambling VLTs since in corner stores. I have lost my marriage and am truly hooked on these machines. I go maybe 10-15 days before my urges or my lack of playing gets the best of me. I have missed rent, starved, and used food banks because I have no money. This disease has taken my soul. I have lied, stolen, and cheated because I can't stop. Relapse occurs because I go into a withdrawal and urges come. I gamble, lose money, and then become depressed for a 3 or 4 day period. Then urges come back and I relapse. Easy access is a problem. Money is the needle and gambling is the drug. WELL VLTs ARE THE DRUG! They have stolen my identity. I recently left my job because of partly physical limitations and partly mental focus. I could no longer focus and do a good job. VLTs have made me think of suicide! Something I have thought about....and thank God I did not carry out! These machines were the ruination of my life and need to be totally removed from every bar in N.S. The premier just does not care about his voters because he is addicted to the revenue. TO HIM: GAMBLING IS THE NEEDLE AND MONEY IS THE DRUG!! He does not care about anything else. Access is the key to gambling with VLTs. If we had no machines, I would be able to return to a normal way of living again.

Thank You

SANDY R
Struggling CG and VLT Addict!

LAURIE'S STORY

I felt somewhat relieved today when I saw your website for what may be the possibility of the beginning of the end of VLTs. Although I am not from the province of Nova Scotia, this is not a problem that is only in your province. I live in Sask. with my husband and two children. The last nine years of our life has been a living hell, ever since my husband started playing the VLTs in this province. It is an emotional roller coaster that few people understand and is hard to explain.

The governments are getting rich on the backs of the addictions of others and are putting very little money back into the system for those in need of help. Their numbers show only a small percentage of people who have an admitted problem of gambling, leaving out all of those like us, who live quietly in society with the silent, enormous heartaches of living in the dark shadows of gambling addiction. The real numbers of people who are affected from gambling addiction are never calculated. I give British Columbia credit for not having VLT's in their bars or restaurants, only in the casinos there. This is one social problem we could surely live without. How much better off would we be if all this money was spent on other things within the economy, and not on the machines.

Laurie (real name withheld)

BRIAN'S STORY

My parents are hard-working, deeply religious people, in their 80's. My brother's son (their grandson), became addicted to VLT's and succeeded in finding ways to manipulate my parents into giving him large sums of money. He took their savings, their home, and saw them expelled from their church because of his constant pressure to borrow large amounts of money from other church members who had known and trusted them for over 50 years. He also induced them to fraudulently borrow money from other family members, in panics which were induced by his bizarre demands for money to fuel his addiction. My parents have now moved to another city where they eke out a niggardly existence in a small, bare apartment, forsaken by their community and broken by the shame of their situation. Their most precious belongings, even family photos, have gone to hock shops. They continue to shelter the grandson who bankrupted them, and are only limited by their failing health and the lack of available funds to give him.

My brother and I have contacted every welfare and mental health agency, as well as both the local and provincial police, to no avail. This is a crime that no one wants to know about, and no one wants to investigate. My parents' lives and my entire family's moral substance have been poured into Halifax VLTs, which are a parasitic stain for which every provincial politician must accept responsibility. Don't think it couldn't happen to your family.

Brian
Peterborough, Ontario

A FORMER ALBERTAN'S STORY

Like many other people, I consider myself to be a bright and reasonably sane person who had never gambled before in his life. I don't even like playing cards! It started "innocently" one night with $5 - and went on to nights where I would empty my bank account. It was the craziest thing I have ever done. But there was just something about these stupid machines that had me wanting more. Like one of the other stories I read - it was like the wheels were in my head.

Anyway.....this all took place over a two-year period (2000-2002). It was not unusual for me to spend upwards of four nights a week - and several hundred dollars sitting in front of a VLT. I can remember playing for 12 hours one day! I can remember starting some days with coffee… and VLTs. It was sick. I was sick. I don't know what came over me. I managed to stop for a while - and got counseling. But I fell back into it shortly afterwards. In the end, I probably threw away in excess of $12,000 on VLTs. And I suffered the same shame, guilt and terrifying depression that many others have suffered. I too nearly ended my life. They are a horrible invention that should remain in Casinos. Although I cannot condone the acts of the gentleman who smashed some VLTs with an ax - I can certainly relate. They ruin lives. I feel badly for those whose stories are much worse than mine. I am still alive, but I have a lot of debt to remind me of that time in my life. Of all the things Alberta might have going for it - the VLT is not one of them.

From a former Alberta resident.

TIM'S STORY

My mother-in-law recently committed suicide because of the affect VLTs had on her life. She became desperately addicted to them. She spent every dollar she could get. When the dust of her suicide had settled, the financial situation she was in became clear to the whole family.

She had stolen over $200,000 from her job. This is what lead to her suicide, as the police were knocking on her door and she felt she had nowhere to turn. My wife had 5 credit cards that were all to the maximum. She did not know about them until we applied for a mortgage.

Her husband had well over 50 credit cards, he knew nothing about them. The list goes on and on and on. In the end, all we know for sure is that with no mortgage, no car payments, no credit card of her own, no bills to pay, nothing to pay for, when she killed herself, she had nothing in her bank account, nothing in her wallet, not a dime anywhere! All that money, all of it, went into the VLTs. This has to stop!

Tim (Last Name Withheld By Request)

JOANNE'S STORY

I am a lawyer in Alberta whose family has been devastated by this illness (VLT addiction). My husband became addicted to these "instruments of evil" in 1996-97, and our lives have been totally shattered. The threat of suicide has always been present, and even today, we never know when the four children visit their father, if he will be alive. I have four children and I do not practice now. I have had to find ways of supporting the children through this disaster. My husband is a highly paid professional who literally went into a meltdown. He doesn't support the children and so court processes have to be used to try and get him to do that. Just staying alive and trying to keep the children in a decent lifestyle--and educate them-- has been a huge challenge. I contracted thyroid cancer from all of this. My surgeon says that he has no doubt that I have cancer as a result of the severe stress associated with the gambling (and alcohol) addictions. I congratulate all of the victims for coming forward. Their courage, in the face of incredible odds, is incredible. I share their rage (I once smashed a VLT with a beer bottle and had to repay the Alberta government $2000 for their devil machine) and I share their sorrow.

MOST of all, my children experience sorrow. My nine year old had no choice as he saw the home he had lived in all of his little life, sold. He was so shattered that he collected dog excrement and placed it under a china cabinet so that the house would smell and it wouldn't sell. It sold, in 1999--a house that took twenty years to pay for. Today, it is worth over two times what we had to sell it for. I decided to send you my story after reading the article in the Globe and Mail with the story of a little baby in South Carolina, asphyxiated because her mother was in the casino gambling. We routinely have police officers patrolling the grounds of the casinos here in Calgary, checking to see if the cars contain children of tender years--freezing to death or alternatively, dying of heat prostration. Thank you gameovervlts.com for brining this hideous social issue into the cold, hard light of day. I have no words to describe the human tragedy in all of this. And, it's all done by our own governments who demand taxes from us and put us in jail if we don't pay the taxes.

Joanne, Alberta

BUCKIE'S STORY

I have always enjoyed a good game of poker. I remember once loosing $400 in a single hand and having to struggle through for a week without a cent. The difference then was I thought I had the winning hand with four 9s. I never felt I had the best hand or was even in control, with VLTs. I played anyway. In the early 80's I can remember the grey machines and was more than a little upset with myself over loosing a $10 roll of quarters. You see I was working in a bowling lanes with pin ball and various other amusement devices. I can remember having people come in and putting 2 or 3 rolls in at a single sitting and thinking how foolish it was. In those days you gave out receipts for pay outs. If you had access to the receipts you had a pretty good idea when they were due. Insider info? When the government moved in and legalized them because they couldn't police them????? Things changed...big time. Losses grew. Bets increased. Players played longer and they became less responsive. They would talk to you but were less involved. I was witness to a miracle at times. Some of my friends who were addicted were the same people who wouldn't give a nickel to see a hot dog bark. Yet now they are regulars. They would never have put a quarter into a pinball machine or jukebox; however, they have fallen prey to the VLTs in a big way. If people were not pumping their weekly pay checks and life savings into these monsters, who knows where they would be spending their money. Certainly not at the local retailers creating jobs for people who pay taxes. I have seen so many lives changed because of these machines that it would make you cry. The gamblers, their families, their friends, their employers and even people they don't know all suffering because of the greed. Oh and did I mention I was(am) a gambler with no self control and like most others have a problem admitting I have a problem. Most addicts I know would never fess up to their losses. A census taker ask me once if I played VLTs much. "Once a month maybe" was my reply and I didn't have to think about it. When I hung up I thought about it. Ya right. 3 or 4 times a week as long as I could cover up my loses. I lost my job about 6 years ago after a severe anxiety attack. For the last 7 or 8 years I have been treated for depression and continue to see a Psychiatrist on a regular basis. I am 57 and am as healthy as anyone 87 in poor health. Got to love the government, though. Ban VLTs. By the way my 48 year old brother and my 55 year old sister are also addicts but they don't know I know.

Buckie Doe

T.P.'S STORY

About thirteen years ago, my husband started to secretly play VLTs. I was completely unaware. I discovered his habit about eight years ago. He works in the oil field, so he is away alot, this is how he kept his filthy secret. Finding out that "ALL" our savings and RRSP's no longer existed, was how I found out. I also was being told by a lot of people that he was gambling. He kept telling me that "I should trust him", "Only idiots gamble", "Why don't you just believe me?"

"I don't gamble". From there it went to, "I make good money, I'll do what I want ", "I'm doing it to have fun ", "Every one I know does it ", "I just need to get back what I've lost". It's a complete hell! I have M.S., so the stress of it is something I find very hard to deal with. He keeps promising to stop, but I am finding myself looking at him and thinking, “Who are you? Why are you ruining your own life and mine? When will you stop lying? How do I stop loving you?” My husband's addiction to VLTs has sucked the life out of us both. I am begging for someone in parliament to WAKE UP, and stop the damage. For people who are weak, the easy access to VLTs is simply a bad idea. If the government truly cared, they would stop the VLTs over night. They know that casinos are the ONLY place for VLTs. If the government can curb the bad habit of people smoking wherever they want, why won't they stop ALL the VLTs? Clearly, they just like cash more than they do people.

Sincerely T.P., Alberta

A DESPERATE WIFE'S STORY

I am ashamed of how VLTs have ruined our lives. I would be ashamed if our family and neighbors knew. We are a wonderful family, with an income of $174,000 a year. I have a good job, and am a well known business owner. My husband, who makes $100,000, has a gambling problem, and last year, all but $ 20,000 went to the government via income taxes and VLTs. We are not in danger of losing our home, we are not hungry, and we have a good life, don't get me wrong. My husband has moods swings, is often disgusted with himself. We cannot invest any money or reap the rewards we should be able to with the good income that we have. It is sad. He knows his addiction is to blame. He can spend $400 in an afternoon, but I have to think twice about getting a new pair of sneakers for the kids. I control the money as much as possible, and will not pay but bare minimum on his Visa, as he keeps maxing it out. The strain on our marriage is solely due to VLTs. I am so hoping there will be a total ban, with the exception of casinos. No one knows how bad I am rooting for this as I am too ashamed to bring it up in conversation. I don't think I could carry on a conversation about this issue without bursting into tears. I know there are others like myself, hiding behind the truth, & hoping for the best possible outcome so we can have control of our lives again. I am certain that the number of problem gamblers in our province is higher than we can imagine. The machines need to go. We all need to get our lives back.

Desperate Wife in Nova Scotia

DARLENE'S STORY

I dropped my first fatal coin in a VLT in St Johns, NL. I traded in Bingo Night out for the VLT. Then my lunch break and every night. I sat beside a guy for eight hours who spent all the family bill money who became intoxicated and then walked out in front of a car. The sad thing about this is the driver was charged for hitting him. I really felt for the family and when I was interviewed by the insurance company I told the truth BUT the bar would not accept responsibility for serving him too much to drink and the victim did not accept responsibility for what he had done. The driver was charged!!!! Oh, it was so easy for me to point the finger at others for not accepting responsibility. But responsible I am not. I have continued to gamble for over 10 years. I did stop for two years and put all my addictive energy in to the local church. They were not equipped or experienced enough to “deal” with me. So this sheep left the flock and returned to her first love. I felt sooooooo hurt and rejected and entered a deep depression. Yes, I was suicidal! I hated myself for not being able to stop the compulsion and the overwhelming feeling that no one could help me. I have read every book, researched every group, and attended many clinics. I know what needs to be done but cannot for some reason!!!!! Now, I am getting angry and if I can prevent someone else from this Misery, my life will not be in vain!! My hat is tipped in your favor “GameOverVLTs.com”. Keep up the great work!!!

Darlene (last name withheld by request)

JUDY'S STORY

I live in Southampton, and yes, I am one of the crazy people who play these ungodly machines. I have lost mega bucks on them. When you are addicted, lonely and have other problems, the machines take the constant thinking of problems away for a little while. You are so concentrated on the games, you don't realize all of your money is gone and then you have bigger problems. The percentage of winning seems very small and that won't change because the government is hooked on the money they make... and God knows where it goes. I pray that these people (government) some day get what they deserve for ruining so many lives. The old saying is what goes around comes around and I hope all who are involved with taking and taking get what they deserve. I have a friend who lost her home and husband, another friend who is on the verge of the same thing, and look at the many people who have killed themselves. How can they allow this to go on? What else do they have to see to wake up this stupid government to do the right thing and eliminate the VLTs in this province?

Judy Brown (real name not used)

HEATHER'S STORY

There is no toilet paper in the house let alone a Kleenex to dry my tears as I write this because I was too busy to get groceries tonight playing a VLT... It’s been years of torture, regret and sins to imagine or realize what they have done to me. Look at me!!!!... beautiful woman, educated, good job, amazing daughter, with a dirty little secret... My attempts at healing myself have been countless, calls to the hot-line, therapy, acupuncture.... all failures the Nova Scotia government has implemented to give themselves and the general public a warm fuzzy feeling that there is help out there for the "silly folk" stupid enough to become addicted to those machines. Truth is... there is no therapy, medicine, doctor or needle strong enough to beat this. This truth comes from me one girl. Someone who could have had it all… like so many other beautiful Nova Scotian people who have been robbed of their dreams, dreams that have been stolen, gambled and wiped away. I Give this story to you, my story would constitute a book if I were to write my truths and life as a VLT gambler..... there is no happier ever after to this but in my heart I have faith there could be a wonderful story told by our children if they were not exposed to what the government gave me as "fun" in my tender young impressionable years. Who knows what I could have offered the community if I wasn't gambling. Possibly our youth will be able to do what I should have done for the community, that is if they are not too busy gambling their life on a VLT..... with sincere regret to everyone I could have touched........

Heather

Brenda's STORY

My name is Brenda, and I have been a gambling addict for over 13 years. I am the mother of three; I have a wonderful husband and now a new grandson. I’ve been to college and university and have worked in the teaching profession but worked mostly in administration. Most would say I’ve done well for myself, I’ve accomplished many personal goals, am active in the community, church and in my children’s school activities. But I have a secret.

This particular addiction knows no race, gender, or religion. Nor does it care. Society has a misconception about people who gamble. They automatically assume that they are people who are weak, who are on drugs, or government assistance. Gambling addicts are viewed as uneducated people who don’t have a grip on life or just don’t have enough brains to not go in the first place. Oh my how society is wrong. I am well educated, live above average lifestyle, have a good job and very smart. I do not do drugs and I did have a grip on life. But that was a life time ago. Or at least it seems that way. It took a long time for my addiction to become full blown. I didn’t just wake up one day and be where I am now. No, it was a slow, patient addiction that was more than happy to wait out the time until it took its full course.

No matter how low I got, I was never able to quit. I tried several times. I try the hardest after a huge loss. My quit would last a week or two. Maybe even a month. But as soon as the bills are caught up and I’m out of hot water with my husband, I think to myself, “Well, maybe I can go take $20 and go. I won’t spend more than that because I don’t want to get into a mess again.” And for a while I would only spend my set amount. But it wasn’t long before I got myself in deep once again. One of the hardest things about quitting was the loss of the social life. The person sitting to my left and right were my new best friends. My old friends had moved on since I pushed them out of my life in order to gamble. So to quit gambling also meant giving up the only social life and friends I now had.

I’ve basically had to relearn how to live my life again. It has taken me a long time. I have spent a lot of money on my habit. One year I spent over $23,000. I had to learn how to regain my family’s trust, how to re-budget money, how to be truthful again and accountable. It is the worst feeling in the world to face the issues your gambling has caused.

This story is very condensed and does not tell all, but I assure you, I have been where you are. Many times over. There is hope. There is a way out. The key to quitting is to keeping fresh in your mind every single day of your last loss. Everyday I wake up I have to remind myself of my last desperate day. I don’t ever want to forget the details of the pain, the loss, the despair. Because once I start to forget, I set myself up to start the cycle all over again.

You are welcome to contact me if you would like to share. Please feel free to email me at bh1197@yahoo.ca. I may be a day or two returning your email, but I will write you back!

Brenda, Yarmouth

DEBBIE'S STORY

I started playing the VLTs in 2001. The addiction became so powerful, I had no choice in going to play, I had to go. I didn't notice the dwindling of the $30,000+ in my savings account. Even cashing out the end of the $50,000+ in RRSPs seemed to be insignificant. I did not think clearly anymore, just a total need to sit at a machine. Then I started using the credit cards and bank loans. I had a debt of almost $80,000, in addition to using my monthly income and all the winnings. I led a double life for three years, my family and friends didn't know. This is a hidden addiction which cannot be seen by the glaze in your eyes or the smell on your breath.

I eventually declared bankruptcy. For three years I had an affair with a machine, and all it did was take away my retirement dreams, savings and good credit, leaving me sick, unable to afford any extras, and suffering embarrassment, shame and loss of self-esteem. It affected my health both physically and emotionally. I take enormous amounts of medication and see at least six doctors on a regular basis. I had a good life; I was a fraud investigator with the Federal Government. But this addiction not only took away three years of my life while playing, I haven't had any normalcy since.

It is time for the Government to take some responsibility and eliminate all VLTs in the province to bring an end to those suffering and any future generations that could be lured into this poison.

Debbie Langille, Halifax

TROY'S STORY

I started playing VLTs in 1995 on the weekend, which quickly evolved to every time I could get to a machine. I spent most of my pay check, sold personal items and then started borrowing from family and friends. I stole from one employer leading to my dismissal. This was to be my career job.

I also stole rent money as Superintendent of an Apartment Building. I had to borrow extensively from my family and my fiancée’s family. I used to own six guitars and was an avid guitar player. Now I have none.

The damage created through these VLTs is enormous, affecting my relationships with family, friends and employers. I now work for menial pay, when I could have had a career. I now suffer with an anxiety disorder which developed from the use of the VLTs and requires medication. I miss playing a guitar which was a big part of my life as well. I used to have perfect credit and now I have none.

It is time to get rid of all of the VLTs in the Province and save other people from destroying their lives and that of their families.

Troy Collins, Halifax

CHAI'S STORY

My younger brother shot himself to end his addiction to gambling.

My brother was two years younger than me. We grew up together. He was an excellent student and a nice person before he left China. Unfortunately, he became addicted to gambling while living alone in the United States. He gambled away his tuition, had to quit school and start working. Again gambling took all his earnings. He started to steal from his family members, friends and later strangers just to feed those VLTs. He lost jobs, his wife and kid and his entire family but me. Oh! he did try so many times and so hard to quit gambling, but could never stay away. Our family gave up on him and blamed him for his weakness. Finally, he lost the needed self- respect to go on living, and I lost my dear brother, who succumbed to the gambling disease and was not able to get any treatment.

Now I see so many other nice Nova Scotians, just like my brother, ruining their lives and their families by VLTs. They need help and love, not blame, certainly not more access to VLTs. I think it is morally wrong for the government to profit from people’s misery. We should try to develop more meaningful employment and healthier recreation for the people of Nova Scotia. Admittedly,VLTs are a source of revenue for the government, but these machines prey on the weaknesses of those whom the government is pledged to protect.

Chai Chu Thompson, Halifax

KELLY'S STORY

Thirteen years ago I saw a friend sitting in the local corner store playing a VLT. I didn't know what they were called then, only that it seemed harmless so I threw in my pocket change and won $30.00. I was so excited and ran home to tell my husband. The next day I returned and won again. I told my husband and encouraged him to try; it was easy and it was fun. Before too long we were both addicted.

I am not going to bare what this has done to our family, but I will tell you that until that time we were happily married and looked to a bright future for ourselves and our children, instead it has been 13 years in the hell of addiction. I can tell you this; I hate those machines, I hate the people who benefit from them, and most of all I hate my government for having such a dangerous product.

As some of you may know, my husband recently walked into a bar and attacked those machines with an axe. The pain and despair that drove him to do that is hard for anyone to imagine. Some may judge him, but I am proud of him, because he had guts to take hold of something that has had a hold of us for way too long.

Kelly Swinimer, Lower Sackville

DONALD'S STORY

I can remember a time without VLTs. I was so in love with my wife and we both worked hard and expected the best out of life, as most young couples do. I started playing VLTs when they were in the grocery stores. It seemed fun and harmless, like playing a video game for money. Soon the fun stopped, instead we were left with addiction and desperation.

I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused through my addiction. My sorrow and regrets will go on for an eternity. I know right from wrong, and I take responsibility for that, but I want the government to understand the over-powering highs that come from VLT gambling; how this mesmerizing machine creates addicts and robs them and their families, of their dreams and goals.

I smashed the VLT with an axe when the pain and hurt became so deadly that I wanted to die. I didn't want to hurt anyone, I just wanted to stop the gambling. (I will say I have not gambled since that day.) I beg my government to remove this punishment from its people and stop the needless suffering.

Donald Swinimer, Lower Sackville

JANE'S STORY

My husband was very young when he started playing VLTs. He would go where the machines were, from the corner stores and then on to the bars. He would blow his pay check, max out credit cards and was always behind in the overdraft, until we had to go bankrupt in 1998. He actually got clean for two years, but slipped back into the addiction. I couldn't give him money for anything as it would go in the machines.

He had worked for the government and went on short term leave due to the gambling, and then in 2000 he went on Long Term Disability, because of several attempted suicides. He was mentally and verbally abusive when he couldn't get money to gamble.

He doesn't play the VLTs anymore though; he committed suicide in 2002 at the age of 39. Now I have a life without a husband and my young eight year old has no father. This was the ultimate cost of the VLTs.

The Province must get rid of the VLT's; it might just be saving a life.

Jane Doe, Dartmouth (real name withheld)

ETHEL'S STORY

I started playing the VLTs in 1994-95. This led to financial destruction and loss of so much time from my family. I spent any cash that I would have, including what should have gone to paying for groceries and monthly bills. I used to have a mortgage at $87,000, now it is $117,000; I went through several loan consolidations of around $40,000, spent $8,000 from the sale of a Van and even stole money from my son's savings account. Through all of this I also became addicted to pain killers as I would take them constantly to be able to stay longer at the VLTs. I am now in a depression and seeing a psychiatrist.

I am 59 years old and should be at a point in my life that I can do things for my family, but now I have no money to do it. I have to pay $1000/mo. for a loan and $1000/mo. for the mortgage. I am falling behind in my monthly payments and estimate it will take at least ten years to get on our feet again. I have not been gambling for three years, but will suffer with the tragic results of my gambling for a long time to come.

The VLTs must be removed from Nova Scotia.

Ethel Jenkins, Lawrencetown

JOHN'S STORY

I started playing the VLTs in 1993 and estimate that I have lost between $70-80,000. I was spending my pay check, using credit cards and a line of credit. I also lost $30,000 from my father's estate. My family relationship suffered and I felt very guilty over this.

I am 61 and retired from the government, but have not been able to retire from working because of my gambling debts. I can't take the holidays I had planned for retirement or even afford to the things that I can enjoy. I'm never in a positive mood.

The VLTs have changed the way I thought my retirement was going to be.

John Jones, Bedford (real name withheld)

SHIRLEY'S STORY

I started playing the VLTs when they were in the corner stores. I would be there as soon as they opened and this continued for the next seven to eight years. I used my house money my husband would give me to buy groceries and pay bills. When my husband passed away, I received a $75,000 insurance policy. All I have to show for it is two pieces of furniture; the rest went into the VLTs. I also used my two credit cards for gambling and had to get a loan for $23,000 to pay them off and have nothing to show for the debt.

My health is good, but I would be constantly worrying about paying bills and lie to my family about playing the machines. I had to go to the food bank at one point as I had no money for groceries. I was afraid to answer my phone because it was bill collectors. This is when I knew I had to stop gambling.

I haven't gambled for about three years now, but at the age of 70, I should have been having a much more relaxing and enjoyable time in my life instead of still paying on debts with nothing to show for it.

Shirley C. MacKinnon, Lower Sackville

GERALD'S STORY

I started playing the VLTs nine years ago when they came to the bars. It was not long before I was using money that should have been used to pay bills. I borrowed money from friends, had a loan at the bank and used credit cards. I also sold my house and gambled away the profit from it. While I am still married, my wife left me because of my gambling. My son has been hurt deeply by this and is so disappointed, resulting in losing the trust I had with him.

The gambling has greatly affected my health causing severe depression and several long stays at the N.S. Hospital. I have lost all of my confidence and am so ashamed and filled with guilty feelings. I still often require short stays at the Abbey Lane Hospital and see a counsellor and social worker on a regular basis.

I am 69 years old, a time in my life when I should be able to enjoy myself, but all of that is gone.

The VLTs have to be removed from all places so this won't happen to anyone else.

L. Gerald Roach - Halifax Area

JOHN'S STORY

I started playing the VLTs when they were in the corner stores. I owned a business with my brothers and ended up losing that. I obtained a good paying job and worked a lot of overtime just to have extra money to gamble. I borrowed money from family and friends and then started using credit cards and bank loans, all to chase my losses. I had to go bankrupt in 1997, because of the gambling.

My marriage of 25 years broke up over my gambling and there are wounds that will never heal. My health has been affected and now I take stress pills and anti-depressants. I can't seem to get over the shame of it all. I even left the province for a while, just to get away from the machines. I'm 50 years old and it's like having to start all over again. I haven't even been able to maintain a decent relationship since my marriage.

It is time for Nova Scotia to get rid of the VLTs and prevent this from happening to others.

John Smith, Halifax (real name withheld)

JANE'S STORY

I started playing the VLTs casually years ago, but that escalated to constantly in January, 2001 when I stopped working. I would spend any cash that I had and used an overdraft at the bank. I borrowed money from family and friends and would pawn or sell personal items. I lost $10,000 in RRSP investments and eventually went bankrupt for $40,000 mostly for the VLTs.

This has greatly affected my relations with my parents who have lost their trust in me. I now have a joint account with my sister and she handles my money giving me $40 a week for spending. My health was also greatly affected and I suffered anxiety attacks. I would gamble for days, then spend days in bed. My quality of life is gone. I lost trust in myself and developed a great amount of guilt. I eventually went to the CORE program and I see a psychologist.

Jane Smith, Dartmouth (real name withheld)

STEVE'S STORY

In 1996 my wife was transferred to Cape Breton with her job. We sold the new home we had just built and bought a home in Sydney. I commuted on weekends and stayed in a small room in Halifax through the week. It was not long after that I started playing VLTs. Initially they seemed to be an innocent way to pass the time. I realized only a few months later that I was in trouble. Something had changed inside my head almost as if my brain had rewired itself to need to play. VLTs replaced any feelings of loneliness and missing my family. The problem soon found its way up to Cape Breton and I was now playing VLTs when I was home on the weekends. My wife now knew I was playing and I told her and myself I would stop. That was easer said than done, neither of us appreciated just how serious this problem was. I thought I was now at what’s known as rock bottom and went to my first gamblers anonymous meeting. The meeting seemed like a very strange place. I felt uncomfortable there and wondered what my parents and friends would think if they could see me now. I left before the meeting was over and vowed I will stop on my own. That never happened, and months later I was losing at least $1000.00 a month on the machines. I now had put 15,000 dollars on a line of credit and maximized my credit cards. I started spending money allocated for other purposes. I kept reaching new rock bottoms and now felt as if I was working for Atlantic lotto. I signed myself into a 30-day program and felt great about the future. Even that intense treatment wasn’t enough to stop me. I did not want our children to know of my problem and worry about it, but it was wrong to keep the truth from them and they handled it well. I started to lose hope of ever stopping for good, when I was not playing I felt anxious and could only think of the next time I can play. I started obsessing with death, feeling the only way I will stop is when my life is over. I had nothing to lose; my life had become a sick cycle of stopping and failing. The only thought that stopped me from giving up or even committing a crime to continue playing VLTs was my children. I didn’t want them to suffer that kind of legacy or come visit me in prison. They deserve the best father out there and I just wasn’t that guy. I put my wife through a terrible time. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her while I was out till all hours of the night, sometimes even using her credit card that she was unaware of. Was I insane? Certainly insane behavior. I do know that I was spiritually bankrupt, like the walking dead not in control of my own will. I now embrace gamblers anonymous and the truth. The secrets out and it feels good. I’ve suffered with this addiction for seven years and now I have not played the VLTs in 2005 and hopefully I won’t play them today.

Steve McCluskey, Coldbrook

CLARENCE'S STORY

I started playing VLTs when they were in the corner stores. I had no idea then what destruction those machines would cause in my life. First I had to sell my house, then I lost a business that I was operating. The next tragedy was going bankrupt, and after that I lost my second house. I had a lovely wife of 22 years, now she is gone as well. But that was not the end of my misery. I had to go bankrupt for the second time, and give up another business. Then I had considered suicide. If I leave the house with more than $20 in my pocket, I know where I will be heading. The pain and suffering that I have caused my family is unbearable. To this day I regret putting that first loonie in a machine, especially where the only ones benefiting from it is the government and the vendors.

Clarence, New Glasgow (name withheld)

ANDERS’ STORY

I've gambled on horses, soccer, bingo, scratch tickets and lotto, but never did I have a problem until I tried the most ultimate form of quick addiction, the VLTs. I am 41 and live with my parents all due to the need to feed my addiction. I own nothing, only debt from these VLTs which I will pay for many years to come. Somehow I knew it was wrong, but the machines set me in the 'zone'. I have no reasoning when playing. When I have no money, I feel free, for as soon as I have money then this 'zone' embraces me again.

From the day I inserted my first coins and notes into the machines, my life gradually took a new direction. I've never seen such an addictive machine in my life. Ordinary men and women become liars, criminals, their marriages are broken and wide spread suicidal thoughts with some writing a note to their loved ones ending it all.

I have gone to treatment and met people who would rather be in jail or seriously hurt with a long hospital stay just so they could stay away from the machines. The endless trail of going to the ATM and back to the VLT, losing even more. We forget to drink and eat for hours and watch as people sit and sweat having their entire monthly salary disappear within hours. The hopelessness in the eyes of the addicts after playing. The stories about precious time lost with their family, the presents their children didn't get for birthdays or Christmas, the planned vacations that disintegrated into the VLT. The empty refrigerators were often filled with the help of the Salvation Army.

These machines have caused so much misery to society. In Norway, 80% of people seeking help for gambling addiction is due to the VLTs. The world's newspapers and treatment centers are constantly showing proof of this. How is it possible to continue exploiting the weak and the strong souls, when the facts are so overwhelming. We have over 50,000 Norwegians and their families suffering because of the VLT addiction. I am so deeply disappointed in the politicians that talk about the health and well-being of the people, while at the same time ignoring the facts that prove over and over again that VLTs cause widespread addiction and misery. It is time to ban these machines before more lives are destroyed.

Anders, Norway (real name withheld)

LOUISE’S STORY

I started when the machines first came out in the legions, in the early nineties. I started out just for fun. I owned my own business and I did it just to unwind. I saw those people who were losing their pay cheques and I thought what idiots they were. Because I owned my own business and I always ran the family finances, no one knew how much I was spending and when my husband started to worry, I was able to lie and say it was alright. It really got bad when the government changed the machines. You used to be able to play along all day, and after that it would take all your money in a couple of hours. That was when it felt like those machines did something to my head. You know you are not going to win, but you just can't stop.

We may still lose the house, that part is not over yet. I can probably honestly say that I have spent over $200,000, almost lost my business and we lost all of our life savings, lost my credit and my husband's credit, but the worst was losing the trust of my husband and my family. I will tell you another thing, if my son and my husband hadn't been there for me, I can't tell you what I might have done.

Louise Phillips, Brooklyn

ANOTHER STORY

I'm a 39 year old mother of 2 children.  I have been playing the VLT machines for a very long time probably since they have been out there, but have only been playing them for the past 5 or so years as an addict. My marriage suffered to the point of separation because my husband could no longer see me put money into the machines and I wanted to stop playing them but like anyone else with an addiction it was/is hard to stay away and stop.

My children have never suffered from my usage of playing but myself I lost a lot of respect for myself because of what I did to play and the after affects in had on me when I lost. I rarely ever won when playing these machines and if I did win something it was only half of what I put into the machine or maybe a quarter of it came back to me.

I’d put it all back in again and again and again so it wasn’t' about winning anymore because even if I did win a couple dollars I found myself just putting it all back in again so I could never figure out why I played them, but the urge to play was greater than the logic of wanting to play.  While playing the machine I wouldn't think of eating or drinking only smoking and putting more 20's into the machine. Most days I’d say ok I’ll play 20 then it was 40 then it was 80 and 100 and before I knew it or realized it I blew all my money into them darn things.... What upsets me the most is that everyone who plays the machines we all seem to have something in common and that is we all hate them and want them gone so I ask myself so why do we play them??????  I don't understand the power these machines have on the people that play them.  For me I always said I’m a very strong individual someone who says NO and means NO....but to these machines NO means YES. Have you ever watched yourself scoping the floor or the ground looking for something but not sure what it is you’re looking for?

Well I have...walking home looking for that lucky loonie or hell maybe get real lucky and find a wallet with money in it so I can go back to play some more. Or maybe its stealing from your job so that after you get off work you can go sit and relax and play the machines for a couple hours before you go home. As desperate this all sounds it is! It’s a desperate addiction.  No different from drugs or alcohol but I suppose in one way if I was an alcoholic at least I can get something out of my money and pass out in a couple hours.  Then at least I should have a few dollars left at the end of the day if I just buy a case of beer or 40 of rum. Just listen to me I know that I am speaking for sooo many others out there that play these machines so why is it so hard for the government to say "wait a minute this wasn't suppose to hurt people" and look at all this mess its killed people ruined lives and marriages what more do we have to do to tell you or show you its evil, its bad.  Is it going to take someone you love to get caught up in this mess before you decide to do anything?  I truly hope it doesn't get that far because at least I’m still here to voice for that person before they do start and I do hope that what I say today or said yesterday or what I will say tomorrow that I will do whatever I have to do if it takes my last breath to have these machines gone today.  I pray to God and I know he will hear my prayers and thousand others as well and I know in my heart that the right person will stand forward soon and know that we are right.

God bless you all and may we all live in peace and harmony.

Name Withheld By Request

TERRY'S STORY

I have been using the VLTs since 1988. It's been a long time and a lot of grief to go along with it. First in the corner stores and bowling alleys, then the bars. I have been beating my head senseless trying to figure out a way for the government to remove all machines from the bars. Removing some machines just isn't going to cut it.

I have lost so much over the past 17 years that there are too many things to mention. Many are material, which is no big deal, but when you loose the trust of your spouse and kids, then that is usually the worse that could ever happen. I have also lost many great jobs, my military career is shot, and managing bars is no longer an option. Now I have to do work that is cheap paying and somewhat degrading.

I have led a double life for so long now that I don't remember who I really am. I don't think my spouse does either. We are together, but we were separated for three years. Last year, I made a promise not to play, but there have been slip-ups. Thankfully, she has been very good and understanding about the addiction. I love my family, and my three children need to know that they aren't going to get caught up in this vicious source of income the government has been addicted to for years.

Terry White, Dartmouth

LAURA'S STORY

Why did I choose to become addicted to these mesmerizing machines? Did I intend to throw all that

I had including my job, my family, my home, my self respect, and my soul into them to lose it all? I could not imagine consciously doing so, going so far as to steal and lie so I could sit and push buttons. But, I did.

I am responsible for losing my job, my home, even my freedom, as I committed an indictable offense. I also whole heartedly believe that the Nova Scotia Government is just as responsible, as they profited from my double life.

They need to be accountable and realize that the revenue that was obtained from those machines was 'ill gotten gains', or even worse yet, some child's supper. I lost myself the day I got hooked on those bright lights, without I might add, any warning labels. I am not that person that sat there for hours on end, and I am not who I was before. This addiction affects your mental health and I am afraid that I will never be as I was. I am so deeply sorry for the pain and humiliation that I have caused my family, friends and employers and I pray one day that they can forgive me. The Nova Scotia Government needs to remove these VLTs from the province of Nova Scotia before more families suffer needlessly.

Laura Greener, Ardoise, Hants Co.

GREG'S STORY

I started playing the VLTs in July four years ago. It all started so innocently. I would take a friend of mine over to the reserve and he would spend $5. The first time he won $40 and I got half. Soon we went every week-end, then I started going on my own. I went from $100 on the week-end, then quickly up to $400 at night. In the last year, I would go right after work at 3:30 pm and leave at 7:00 am, then I would call into work to take the day off. I had soon lost my $45,000 in RRSPs, maxed out my credit card and had a $20,000 line of credit debt. There were times when I couldn't even buy groceries and would not even open my mail because of the debt load.

My house should be paid for now, but I had to get a five year loan and a five year mortgage to get caught up on my debt. The banks make it too easy as well to get money. I told the financial officer about my gambling problem when I went to straighten out my debts, and she told me I could get another line of credit on my house. I guess I'm lucky I still have my home, but I am paying on two monthly bills now with nothing to show for it for the next five years. I have been in a depression twice and often had thoughts of suicide. I still need medication for the depression.

It's time these machines were taken out of the province and prevent others from being drawn into this nightmare.

Greg, Port Williams (last name withheld)

JIM'S STORY

I started playing the VLTs on New Year's night, 1997. I was quickly drawn into the need to go as much as I could. I had eventually gambled away an insurance claim, all of my RRSPs and part of my pay checks. I would go to the Reserve at 7:00 pm and stay until 7:00 am, when I should have been at work. Meanwhile, I would have lost $1,000. I would sit at a bar all day playing until I had to pick up my daughter at 3:00 pm. The amount of time I spent trying to think up lies of where I had been. I took charge of getting the mail so I could hide the bills. I had always paid my bills, but eventually I had to go bankrupt. After seven years of lies, I could not live with myself. My wife and I split up, I had lost everything and that only drove me further into the gambling and drinking as well. I am glad that I had at least signed the house over to my wife, as I might have lost that too. Now I am trying to pick up the pieces of my life and start over again. It is time the government wakes up and sees the damage these machines have caused. We need to get rid of all the VLTs.

Jim Schofield, Coldbrook

V MASON'S STORY

Fifteen years ago, I was afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis, and as recently as two years ago, diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. I stood strong through both of these life altering experiences, but fell weak when faced with a serious gambling addiction. I've been playing the VLTs for approximately three years (in what seems a short time span). I have maxed out credit cards, borrowed large amounts of money from family members, and sold valuables dear to me which were inherited from my deceased mother. I played on a daily basis, giving no thought to the destruction I was creating and was about to meet head on. My only thoughts were to play, play, play. The head on collision occurred, causing my rent to go unpaid, the fridge to be empty, along with my oil drum and my soul. I have considered suicide many times, not having the strength and courage to face another day of this horrible way of life. But, maybe I am still standing strong, for I intend to fight to have VLTs a thing of the past. Then and only then, no one will have to live with the stress, the lies, and the empty soul of a gambling addiction.

V. Mason, Lower Sackville, NS

BARB'S STORY

I never knew what a VLT was until I started working at a local bar and they brought the machines in after we opened. My boss gave me some money to play for him one afternoon, I had nothing better to do and thought it would be fun, and fun it was, I won over $800. that day. After winning my money, I thought that it was an easy way of earning money and played them constantly after that. I also buy scratch tickets and I won $10,000. on those, but guess where the money went, right back to the government in the VLT machines. I have not won big since then and I continue to play the VLTs every time I have money in my pocket. I always say to myself before I go," I am only going to spend this $10. today and I end up spending $50 or $60 before I leave and come out with nothing. I let my bills go so I can have some money to play. My boyfriend never knew how to play them till he met me. Now, he likes playing them too, but he knows when to stop, I don't. When I worked at the bar, I used to sit and watch them come in on family allowance and welfare day and spend most or all of their cheques on the machines and win nothing. The VLTs are a very big problem. We need to remove these machines so that people can have some money in their pockets and forget about the VLTs totally.

Barb, Middleton (last name withheld by request)

M.C.'S STORY

My story is about how I lost my best friend, my lover, my husband and the father of my child to these awful machines. We had been together 30 years and married for 20 when I began to wonder and get the first idea that things were not the way they should be. My husband was a wonderful husband and great father. He loved his family. He was careful with our money and we had built a good life together. Things were changing and it took awhile to piece things together and to finally have him confess what he had done. Of course he swore he would never do it again and I believed it. Still there were nagging feelings that things weren't right. I found out that he was still gambling and lying to me. This lead to two years of more lies. He attended GA, finally he went to the Core Program, we attended counseling at Drug Dependency individually and together, and he was still gambling. I finally left him because I couldn't let him take everything we had worked for! You will never know the feeling of this or what it feels like to have someone at the Drug Dependency Program tell you the system failed you. These machines are evil and there is nothing good about them. I want people to know how innocent family members feel. They are so evil because it is so hard to see the grip they have on people. My husband wasn't out at night or we didn't go to these places. I don't know how he started but maybe it was a couple of dollars at lunch and he was addicted before he knew what had happened. He is still a good man and I still love him and it is killing me to see what he has done to his life and how he is still gambling and he can't seem to help himself. This Government has to pull the plug. We don't need more families ruined and we don't need more people killing themselves. It seems by the time people know they are in trouble, it is too late. Please band together to stop this destruction.

M.C. (real name withheld by request)

JAMES' STORY

I just saw Premier Hamm say that the government took over the VLTs because they couldn't control the illegal machines before. I actually worked in a bar before they became legal and the funny thing is they were actually better controlled before. When a person came in to the bar, you might give him 20 bucks worth of change and when he lost that you would probably give him another 20 bucks worth of change but usually the third time you'd tell him to take a hike because they were losing too much money. The day after they became legal we started handing out as much coin as they wanted. I wouldn't want my name used, but thought I would share this story.

Also I'm from PEI, but I suspect it is the same in NS.

James (last name withheld by request)

JEFF'S STORY

I am not a VLT player. But I've lived with it all my life. My Father has had a problem with VLTs as long as I can remember. I know first hand what it can do to a family. I can remember driving around with my mother as a child looking for Dad's car at the local pubs. I never understood why he was there and not at home with us. Was I not a good son? What was wrong with me? My mother took control of the books giving dad a daily allowance. He always wanted more and would sneak around trying to find mom's cards. Sometimes he would and empty the accounts. Not too long ago he emptied their RRSPs and found my credit card of five thousand dollars and maxed it out in a week. As a teen I use to have nightmares about going into a bar and smashing the machines with a baseball bat. I almost did one day. I wanted to play hockey as a kid but my parents said they couldn't afford it. It's not about the money. I love my Father with all my heart and always will but nothing will replace the loss of trust and respect. Luckily I've stayed away from VLTs. I played once and won which scared that crap out of me. I'll never play again.

Jeffrey (last name withheld by request)

MARIANNE'S STORY

After almost 19 years of marriage I asked my husband to leave. I could not bare to look at him anymore. I felt as though I was watching him die a little more each day. Watching a VLT addict is like watching someone with a terminal illness. Only I didn't know the truth until over a year after we separated. Living with an addict is something only those who have done it can understand. You walk on eggshells, you question your own sanity, you feel guilty for feeling suspicious etc. Then when you finally know you can't live like that anymore your heart gets broken. My husband has a good heart. He's a good man and now since he is in recovery. I see the person I knew that was there all along starting to immerse and for the first time in a long time I can say that I am proud of him. I think it is time for people from both sides of addiction to speak out and stop shoving it under the rug. I also think that the banks that extend lines of credit and issue credit cards to spouses without the other's knowledge should not be allowed. These institutions are contributing to the destruction of lives and are jeopardizing the futures of innocent bystanders.

Marianne Crosby, Coldbrook