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This Just In: August 5 - 12

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Poker Face

Summary: Gambling addiction is a woman's problem, too. Reporter: Andy Sheehan, KDKA Channel 2 Airtime: 2 minutes, 58 seconds on July 29 Highlights: * When anchor Patrice King Brown opens, "It was once thought of as an activity for men. But [with] the spread of casino gambling, studies show that gambling among women is on the rise, and those same studies show that more and more women are becoming gambling addicts. Our region is no exception." * When Sheehan paints a sad portrait of addiction: "The women I spoke with say they were drawn to the casinos for escape, and they found that escape playing the slots. But in a short time, they became slaves to those machines." * When Sheehan continues the sobering tale, "They're drawn in by the glamour of the casino, a world of excitement far removed from the everyday pressures of caring for children or elderly parents." * When Sheehan discusses treatment for addicts -- some of whom we see filing into a support-group meeting: "Here, behind this closed door, a group of problem women gamblers meet for mutual support, in the hope of freeing themselves from a life of isolation and despair." * When a woman explains, "I would be going [to the casino] without ... even knowing I was going, practically. The car would just drive itself there." * When yet another woman confesses, in a raspy voice, "It was scary. ... I was gonna hit that jackpot, I was gonna pay off all my debt, get outta trouble and just start my life over. And it never happened." * When Sheehan concludes, "[O]f course, there is help out there through Gamblers Anonymous and other support groups, but these women say ... the problems among women gamblers will only get worse." Unanswered Question: Are there any numbers that show having new casinos in the Pittsburgh area has contributed to increased gambling addiction here? What We Learned: Women of every age and from any walk of life can be at risk for gambling addiction. News Value: 6. This is a good example of how to take information from a study and work it locally, though Sheehan does come perilously close to being overdramatic. The evidence in the studies appears to support one side of the which-came-first conundrum: Having a casino close by has undoubtedly caused despair for many. But the other question, which I wish Sheehan would have explored, is this: "If it weren't for slots, would these women have gone to bingo and lost all of their money there? Or by going shopping instead?" But then, I usually expect too much.

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