Recovering Gambling Addict Is Worried About a New Trend

In first-person essay for Maclean's, Noah Vineberg laments rise of legalized sports betting
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2023 3:05 PM CDT
'I'm a Recovering Gambling Addict,' and I'm Worried
Stock image of a baseball betting line.   (Getty / sb-borg)

Noah Vineberg started small, organizing sports pools in third grade among his friends. By the time he was a young teenager in Canada, he was gambling every day at a shopping mall where he could buy parlay-style tickets on sports events despite being underage. (The clerks never checked IDs.) As he explains in a first-person essay at Maclean's, Vineberg got hooked on the rush, the anticipation of waiting for the games to end. He usually lost, but the occasional big win would fuel that rush. You can see where this is going: By the time he was 35, Vineberg was gambling $20,000 a year and figures he had lost $500,000 by that point. "Over the past few decades, I’ve played through more than $1 million," most of it on sports wagers, he writes. The resulting narrative: "I'm a recovering gambling addict."

Vineberg writes about how his addiction wrecked his relationships with his partners and his children, and about how he tried and failed to quit over and over again, done in by the smallest trigger, which forced him to borrow money from his parents to cover debts. The bright side: He hasn't gambled since 2018. The darker side: Vineberg has driven a bus in Ottawa for 20 years, and he says the biggest change in that time is the explosion of ads in the last few years for legalized sports betting—a daily temptation for people like him. And he worries that the digital age has made placing such bets way too easy. "A lot of gamblers will be able to stay within their limits," he writes. "But what about the people like me, who struggle with gambling addiction?" (Click to read the full essay.)

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