Casino gambling can take a serious toll - - The News for South Mississippi

Casino gambling can take a serious toll

Hollins hasn't placed a bet in 22 years. (Photo source: WLOX) Hollins hasn't placed a bet in 22 years. (Photo source: WLOX)

Charles Hollins admits his life spun out of control because he couldn't walk away from the spinning slot machines.

There were days he would win, and the wins became intoxicating. But the days he lost were many more. Losses started to mount and debt piled up.

“I ended up losing $105,000. I had no idea that gambling could do that to me," said Hollins. “I found myself sneaking down there at midnight, thinking the machines were going to hit.”

He did something else too, that included his wife.

“I lied a lot. That's the thing about compulsive gamblers," said Hollins. "I lied to her about everything."

Then, the turning point came for him. 

“I reached into my pocket and there was no money left. I knew that I just lost all the money that I paid the bills with and everything else," said Hollins. 

As he was leaving the casino that night, the retired Marine had other thoughts.

“I'm driving past this 18 wheeler and I decided, you know, life just isn't worth living. I might as well go ahead and kill myself right now.”  Hollins said. “I figured as I was thinking that, the idea came to me you know - with your luck - you'll probably be crippled the rest of your life. So I decided I had to go home and tell my wife what was going on.” 

He searched for help and got it from Gamblers Anonymous, just like 15,000 others in the state have done.

“They have a program for overeaters and alcoholics. We have a 12-step program that works for compulsive gamblers,” Hollins explained.

Charles hasn't placed a bet in 22 years, and has climbed out of his massive financial hole.

“I got my money back simply by working hard. Not causing the problems I had caused before by gambling," he said. 

He now shares his life lessons with other problem gamblers. He's the one they call when they slip up and find themselves trapped by temptation. He'll even go back into the places that once nearly destroyed him, but for only one reason.

“I'll go into a casino if there is somebody in there that calls me and say they need helps getting out," said Hollins.  

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, contact the Mississippi Council on Problem and Compulsive Gambling 1-888-777-9696. 

Charles Hollins is so intent on helping others, those who need help can call him at 228-233-5132.

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