A lot has changed since Fast Eddie (Paul Newman) took on Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) in the 1961 film “The Hustler,” but a lot has stayed the same, too. Online gambling has gotten a lot more people involved, but the end result for compulsive gamblers? Yep, they still lose! It all.
A conservative estimate on the number of “problem” or compulsive gamblers in North America is around 1 percent of the population (between 3 and 4 million people), but some say that number may now be as high as 7 percent -- up to 28 million men and women. Online gambling poses a unique risk because of how available it is -- you sit back in your recliner, wearing your PJs, turn on your computer and, bingo, you've got 24/7 to lose your savings account. As online gambling sites have increased in number from 15 in 1995 to more than 2,300 in 2010, so have revenues; the people who run the games took in $24 billion in one year; that's how much is being lost.
If you try to quit and find that you get edgy -- pathological gambling and substance abuse disorders create similar brain effects -- think about going to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting (find one at www.gamblersanonymous.org). The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop gambling.
You can't beat a stacked deck, unless you're Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) cheating better than Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) in “The Sting” (remember, that's all fiction). Cheating is even tougher against an online computer. Get help.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.