The Powerball jackpot may now be $500 million, but this Connecticut man’s story serves as a warning about lottery addiction

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Americans are likely to line up earlier to buy Powerball tickets Saturday’s $500 Million Drawing, But for Adam Osmond, any jackpot excitement only serves as a reminder of the dark side of the lottery.

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Osmond, a Connecticut resident, gave up buying lottery tickets more than a decade ago, after losing nearly $1 million on various games, whether they were scratch-offs or drawings. He said that his addiction cost him almost any form of his business (owning two gas stations), his home and normal life.

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“When you talk about hitting down, I hit the worst from the bottom,” says Osmond, who sought treatment for his addiction. Today, he works as an accountant for Connecticut’s Department of Housing and runs marathons and other races in his spare time.

Osmond’s story may be an extreme tale, but it is not entirely unique. Experts say that as state lotteries have grown in popularity – United sales have increased From about $59 billion in 2010 to about $90 billion in 2020 – so does the number of Americans who are addicted to playing games.

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Experts say that the problem gets aggravated when there is a big jackpot. Events like these inevitably result in a lot of news coverage and feed into the idea that playing the lottery is a fun, safe pastime. And this is despite the fact that the odds of earning the top prize are one in 292.2 million, which means you have more chances Being a movie star or being killed by a bee sting.

Experts say Americans are tempted to buy tickets with the prospect of winning a life-changing sum, however, there is always the risk that some will become addicted to the lottery. And those who are already addicted can encourage themselves more to play.

Overall, approximately 2 million American adults have a serious gambling addiction, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling, while another 4 to 6 million have a mild or moderate problem.

Keith White, executive director of the National Council, says that jackpot frenzy can cause even those recovering from gambling addictions. Either way, they say, lottery fever is a destructive force.

“It normalizes gambling,” he says.

Osmond’s story speaks to how addiction can spiral out of control. Born in Somalia, Osmond came to this country 35 years ago and attended college. He began playing the lottery sporadically—”a dollar here or there,” he says—but when he went into the gas-station business, he was able to buy tickets quickly and easily at the stores he owned and his problems were solved. Began.

Osmond notes that he hit it big on more than one occasion, but that only fueled his addiction. About 15 years ago, he won a $50,000 prize on a drawing game. “I put the whole thing back” in more stamps, Osmond recalls. Naturally, he lost.

They say Osmond credits him with saving him from gambling—it was a way for him to channel his energy positively, he says. He has participated in more than 500 races including several marathons. He recently ran the New York City Marathon for the first time.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of lotteries, says Osmond, is their popularity among the poor—that is, those who can least afford to gamble. This is a point that has been mentioned in many researches, including noting a study People who make less than $10,000 a year spend $597 (or about 6% of their income) on the lottery.

Ultimately, Osmond and others fear the problem won’t go away easily, especially as states are offering more ways to play the lottery. Indeed, Powerball, a game offered in 45 states and run through a multi-state federation, added third night images to its weekly schedule in August.

Osmond considers himself lucky to be able to break the cycle of his lottery addiction. And it’s pretty much a cycle, he says: “Whenever you lose, you want to keep playing to get your money back.”

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