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High Stakes: The Rising Cost of America's Gambling Addictionby Sam Skolnik
Synopses & Reviews
America is becoming hooked on gambling. From the millions of dens and dorm rooms lit by online poker games to the neighborhoods transformed by new casinos and slot machine parlors, legalized gambling has become an integral part of our lives.
With a singular blend of investigative journalism and poignant narratives of gambling addiction, award-winning journalist Sam Skolnik provides an in-depth exploration of the consequences of this national phenomenon. The result is High Stakes, an unflinching look at the explosive growth of legalized gambling in our country, the concurrent rise of addicted gamblers, and what it all means.
Thirty-five years ago, casinos were legal in just one state, Nevada. Today, legalized gambling has morphed into a $92 billion industry established in all but two states. As elected officials are urging voters to expand gambling’s reach, the industry’s supporters and their equally impassioned detractors are squaring off in prolonged state-by-state battles. Millions of Americans are being asked to decide: Are the benefits worth the costs?
Industry officials and their political allies assert that gambling is an effective way to raise revenue and create jobs. But these rewards come at a steep price. Fast-rising numbers of addicted gamblers are causing higher indebtedness and bankruptcy rates, as well as increased divorces, suicides, and gambling-related crime. Skolnik shows how the gambling industry is targeting Asian Americans—and why this population, more than any other ethnic group, is likely to develop gambling problems. He also illustrates how gambling has helped turn Las Vegas into America’s most dysfunctional community, and how the upsurge of poker and Internet gambling has created a new generation of gambling junkies.
In High Stakes, we meet politicians eager to promote legalized gambling as an economic cure-all, scientists wrestling with the meaning of gambling addiction, and ensnared players so caught up in the chase that they’ve lost their livelihoods and their minds. Throughout it all, Skolnik—an avid poker player—never loses sight of the human side of these struggles.
Book News Annotation:
Skolnik, a journalist and gambler dealing with an addiction, examines the consequences of the surge in gambling in the past 35 years due to the increase in Internet gambling, the poker craze, and more states with casinos. Through the stories of politicians and activists, medical and mental health professionals, gambling industry professionals, and problem gamblers and the people they affect, he describes the rise in legalized gambling and the culture it is creating in various states across the US, as well as its harmful impact on Las Vegas. He also discusses gambling research and how the industry has influenced it through funding, the higher rate of addiction among Asian Americans, and the federal role in regulation and problem prevention. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
What the explosive growth of legalized gambling means socially, politically, and economically for America.
In High Stakes, journalist and gambler Sam Skolnik explores legalized gambling from multiple perspectives--from those of politicians eager for reform to anti-gambling activists. He profiles Las Vegas, where he lives; writes about Gamblers Anonymous, which hosts over 1,600 meetings across the U.S.; and even examines the science of problem gambling, and how it's now understood as a medical condition as opposed to a moral failing. Provocative and engaging, Skolnik's candid account of his own gambling experiences will compel readers. Capitalizing on current events, Skolnik explores how casino expansion has been impacted by the recent economic downturn to suggest that despite the recession, the industry continues to profit from high-stakes gambling.
America is fast becoming hooked on legalized gambling. It's become a $94 billion industry, now entrenched in all but two states. Revenues have shot up 70 percent in the last decade alone. Politicians and industry officials assert that gambling is an effective way to raise revenues and create jobs. But a hidden story needs to be told. Studies are showing that fast-rising numbers of addicted gamblers are causing higher indebtedness and bankruptcy rates, as well as increased divorces, suicides and gambling-related crime.
As elected officials across the country are urging voters to expand gambling's reach, millions of Americans are being asked to decide: Are the benefits worth the costs? Through dogged investigative reporting combined with gripping stories of gambling addiction, award-winning journalist Sam Skolnik, a poker player himself, attempts to find the answer.
High Stakes- the first comprehensive exploration of the consequences of the gambling boom - surveys everything from the impact of Internet gambling and the politics surrounding gambling legalization, to the casino industry's targeting of Asian-Americans and the reality of Las Vegas, a community he argues is fundamentally distorted by gambling.
About the Author
Sam Skolnik began his journalism career as a news aide and freelance writer for the Washington Post. He went on to report for the Legal Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Las Vegas Sun. He's won several national journalism awards and was selected to be a Knight-Wallace journalism fellow for 2007-08.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Gambler’s Journey, and a Country’s
Chapter 1: The Other Gambling Addicts: The States
Chapter 2: Welcome to Las Vegas, Problem Gambling Capital of the World
Chapter 3: The Asian Connection
Chapter 4: The Rise of the Poker Junkie
Chapter 5: The Online Fix
Chapter 6: Evolving Science, Questionable Research
Chapter 7: A Federal Role, and a Look Forward
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