A risky gamble for addicts

Even as New Mexico reaps the profits of gambling — $156 million last year from the New Mexico Lottery, horse racing and various types of slot machines — it has avoided coming to grips with the consequences of gambling. Instead, the state seems content to count its winnings and let compulsive gamblers grapple with their addiction alone.

As New Mexican reporter Thom Cole has found, intense gambling can carry serious repercussions, causing widespread problems. Problem gamblers have bankrupted themselves and their families, lost their homes and even forfeited their lives.

New Mexico must do more to prevent problem gambling and treat gambling addicts.

With Indian casinos located near major cities, the draw of the lottery and the long tradition of betting on horse racing, there are many ways for a fool and her money to be parted. For most people, gambling is entertainment, akin to going to the movies or a live concert. For some 2 percent to 3 percent of the population, it becomes an addiction, according to estimates from gambling addiction groups.

Those who cannot stop gambling and let their betting grow out of control face grim consequences. Witness former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who admitted to using campaign donations to feed her gambling addiction and had to resign in disgrace.

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