By Amanda Coward

Photo by Steve Sawusch on Unsplash

Casino gaming has been a past time for many years in the Untied States. The state of Washington has declared gambling illegal. Native American reservations throughout the state are however considered sovereign nations. These sovereign nations have open boarders where people can come and go as they please. This allows for these Native American tribal governments to make their own laws on anything including the gaming industry. In Skagit County both of the gaming casinos are located within sovereign tribal lands. One casino belongs to the Swinomish Tribe and the other belongs to the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe. The Skagit Casino Resort is located in Bow, Wash. it offers slot style gaming with over 900 state of the art gaming machines. As well as a hotel for overnight stays. This casino is owned by the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe. The Swinomish Casino and Lodge is in Anacortes, Wash. it offers slot style gaming and table gaming. This casino is owned by the Swinomish Tribe located in La Conner, Wash. and it also has an attached hotel.

Gloria Gilbert, Walmart Associate,  says that she sees casino gaming as a really fun pass time. She loves to win at the casino and have a little extra money to spoil her grandkids. She enjoys the atmosphere of the casino and meeting new people who sit next to her when playing the slot machines. Often Gilbert and her significant other will go to the casino for a date night. The buffet is why they go to the casino to eat dinner but then end up playing the slot machines for a while. Gilbert admits that sometimes she wins big and that feels really great. Gilbert says that when she is gaming at the casino she makes rules for herself before stepping foot into the door of the casino. She says make a plan before entering the casino. Know how much you are willing to lose and still walk away happy that you got to go out and play a game. If that amount for you is $20, $50, or $100 then take that amount in with you in cash. Don’t use the casino ATM to withdraw any money. If you are winning then take out the original amount you started playing with and put that in your pocket and don’t touch it again. At that point win or lose you still walk out with the money you came in the door with. If you lose your original amount of cash then you are done gambling for the night. Those are the rules Gilbert lives by.

Lois McCurdy, a Nursing Assistant, says that playing games at the casinos and winning causes your brain to release dopamine into your body. Dopamine activates the pleasure center in your brain. This is what causes a high effect from gambling. For this reason, gambling can become addictive. McCurdy also went on to say that the lows of depression from losing can be
catastrophic sometimes causing one to commit suicide. The dangers of spending an entire paycheck on gambling is very real says Gilbert. She has seen people do that at the casino. Addiction in gaming can develop at any time. Gilbert admits that
sometimes she will see people who spend their life’s savings at the casino because they “just can’t stop.” Charles Mason LPN, says that the dopamine reward that the brain gives to someone when they gamble is the same reward system that drugs give someone when they use them. This is why gambling and drug use are often treated in similar ways. Dopamine addictive substances and habits have the same effect on the brain. It is a reward system your brain gives to your body for doing things that “feel good.” So, if it is illegal drugs or gambling you are getting a hit of dopamine. This is why most clinics that treat drug addiction usually treat gambling addiction as well.

Mason also says that Didgwalic Wellness Center provides services for gambling addiction counseling. If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction there are programs in our community to help you. Didgwalic is protected under HIPPA and 42 CFR laws and so they cannot confirm nor deny any patient or non-patient without their written consent. When seeking help this will not show up on any medical records outside of this clinic and cannot be traced back to you. They protect their patient’s anonymity so that everyone can have access to the help they need to get out of the grasp of addiction. The goal at Didgwalic Wellness Center is to address barriers to treatment and then take those barriers away. This is why they offer free transportation to and from their clinic as well as onsite childcare while attending appointments. These are the reasons many clients say they would not be able to attend. Didgwalic makes it possible for everyone to get the help they need and deserve. This clinic is available to all who are seeking help visit their website for more information or call their office to schedule an assessment. If you or someone you know is dealing with gambling addiction please call (360) 588-2800 or email [email protected] to learn more about the help they can provide.