Late one afternoon, after too many years of feeling trapped in a dark tunnel with no way out, something unthinkable happened. I was about half way home from the local casino, once again having lost all of my money and totally disgusted at myself, when I noticed a large semi coming towards me on the opposite side of the road. Within a few seconds of noticing that semi, I figured out a simple way to become free of my addiction. All I had to do was turn my steering wheel just at the right time and all my stress, self-hatred, migraine headaches, back pain, shame, guilt and depression would disappear for good. I quickly tightened my grip around the steering wheel and waited patiently for the semi to make its way closer to me. By then, everything around me seemed to be moving in slow motion. The time had come and just as I was about to swerve my car to the left, my steering wheel locked. It literally felt like a strong but yet invisible force was holding on to it more tightly than I was.
I abruptly woke up to the realization of what I had just attempted to do and every part of my body began trembling. Never before had I thought of suicide as a way out of my problems. With my legs still shaking uncontrollably, I drove to the side of the road, parked my car and began crying and yelling at the top of my lungs, “God, why have you not helped me yet? Why do you keep ignoring me? I don’t know what else to do. Please, please … help me now because as you know, I can’t go on this way.” I knew beyond a doubt that I was in big trouble because I could no longer trust my thoughts or my actions. I’m not sure how long I stayed parked on the side of the road but as soon as I got home, I ran upstairs to my room and cried for several hours. While journaling later that evening, the reason why my steering wheel had locked that fateful afternoon became crystal clear. My addiction to Vlts and Slots was part of a divine plan – one that I would not come to fully understand until this year.
It took me 10 years after I realized I was addicted to finally crawl my way out of the ‘hellhole’ I was trapped in. During that time, I often read or was told I would struggle with this horrific and all-consuming addiction until the day I die. I was also told that unfortunately for me, I was part of the very small percentage of the population who gambled and who was predisposed to an addictive behavior. Whenever I questioned the reason why so many of us in the room were addicted to Vlts or Slot machines, the support group leader or the counselors at the treatment program would respond that ‘the reason’ we gambled was not what was important but rather that we needed to accept having a disease that could not be cured, only controlled. Even though comments like these only intensified my feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness, my intuition kept telling me I was still missing something.
On May 17, 2002, while still severely addicted I began researching gambling machines in between going to play them once or twice a day. Guided solely by my intuition, I persisted diligently until the year 2009.
After 14 years years of profusely berating and hating myself for not being able to quit playing Vlts, going for help and seven years filling up over two dozen lined notebooks with my research notes and private journals, I knew the reason why I no longer recognized the person I saw in the mirror:
As a regular player, my behavior had been programmed into one of addicts in the same way a lab rat can be programmed, with the use of rewards, to repeatedly push a button to the point of exhaustion. The only difference is that I had excessively pushed the spin buttons on machines to the point of emotional, physical, spiritual and financial exhaustion.
Click Here for a theory I wrote and the cartoon I drew after I made this discovery
Had it not been for the research I did and the divine help I received, I would not have survived my addiction. I would not have learned the reasons why one researcher repeatedly told me, "Gisele, it is not you who is sick but rather the machines are making you sick". I would also not have discovered that anyone who plays gambling machines, as they were intended to be played, which is on a regular basis, will become addicted, no matter who they are, the extent of their education, if they’re rich or poor or if they have, or don’t have, a predisposition to an addictive behavior. As a matter of fact, according to a 2011 report funded by AGLC, without the addicted, in other words, the regular players, my government would lose an average of 77% of the profits derived from their Vlts, Slot machines and internet gambling. This would mean the employees running their gambling business, including the counselors for their gambling treatment programs, would lose most of their paycheck or be without a job. (My experience as an addict and the alarming discoveries I made during my research, are in the book I wrote with my daughter Dana titled DISMISSED, which is one of the books recommended on this website on the page titled BOOKS. Dana and I donate 50% of the e-book sale derived from this website to EGMS.org as our way to help them fulfill their mission).
For years after my discoveries, I experienced extreme sadness and anger; sadness due to all the years I had berated myself so severely on a daily basis for not being 'strong enough' or 'faithful enough' or 'smart enough' to get over my addiction. Anger because no one had ever made me aware or warned me about what researchers from all over the world had known for decades and been warning my government about – that their fundraisers are highly addictive and harmful. I was also angry because no one at my government’s gambling treatment program or the people I communicated with at the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission during my research ever mentioned that Vlts and Slot machines:
- undermine the player’s ability to gamble responsibly
- entice players to play longer, faster and more intensively
- or about the other structural factors that contribute to the addictive-ness of gambling machines and why they are known throughout the world as the ‘crack cocaine’ of all gambling.
Not being told or warned about this pertinent information before I began playing robbed me of 14 years of my life, my health, over half a million dollars and nearly my marriage - information each Canadian had a right to know before gambling machines were brought into their provinces.
I am not against gambling but rather for the right to make an informed choice which I was never able to do concerning the Vlts and Slot machines in my province. Knowing the whole truth is the only way a person can make an informed choice when deciding (1) to play these machines or not, (2) to accept or reject the money derived from them for their charity groups and/or for enhancing their lives, or (3) to accept or reject these machines in their communities.
By sharing my story and some of my discoveries in my book Dismissed, I have already saved lives. I founded EGMS.org and developed this website because I believe that together with the help of other survivors of Vlts and Slot machines and the support of my fellow citizens, many more lives can be save and we can finally end the suffering and suicide attempts that are linked to 'our fundraisers' .
Author of DISMISSED
President of EGMS.org