The 72-year-old self avowed gambling addict is homeless now, having lost way more money than he made, having stopped working, spending his disability payments in casinos. He says he can’t resist coming back to Nevada and Reno. He says he was in Salt Lake City for a while, but then came back to the Biggest Little City to gamble some more.
“I've won a lot of money. But I lost a lot of money,” he said at a recent outreach event outside the main homeless shelter in downtown Reno. “Quite simply, when I’ve won and I've won several thousand dollars, I probably lost more than triple that. It's an addiction as bad as drugs and alcohol all put together. It’s a very expensive habit. I don't drink, I don't do drugs. But I gamble. Believe me, that is the worst of the three.”
A Gambling Illness
Edward calls it an illness, which he says he just can’t stop despite going to meetings and seeking help.
“ When I go to a casino, I have a hard time stopping…. I can't get up and leave. I have an illness and I know that.”
He says he’s all alone in his life, with his Social Security income, his Medicare, his fatalism, and his uncontrollable urge to gamble.
“If I (could go) back to my younger years, I wouldn't have gotten into gambling, that’s for sure. Because it's a very expensive source of living. Whatever you win, you lose lots, lots more. It's not really worth it. It’s sad but I just can't get over the urge to stop it.”
He’d like to go back to Utah but can’t seem to find the will to break his addiction and go. “This is not a good environment, for my gambling addiction with the casinos. Utah is a fairly safe haven for me because the Mormons, they will not allow (gambling) and I could entertain myself other ways than visiting a casino and losing my money.”
His Advice: Stay Away from Gambling
To others in Reno, he has simple advice: “Stay away from any form of gambling. Racetracks, lotteries, casinos, any form.... Please. For your own sake, avoid it at all costs. Get into something more productive, something more solid... something. Get a life. That's more than what I got unfortunately and it's hard to reverse what I got. I tried and tried but it's an insidious disease and it will drag you down. To the very … bottom of the barrel and you don't want that. Nobody would want that.”
“ I’m just trying to hang in there, hang on and hope for the best,” he concluded.
Photos and Interview by Prince Nesta for Our Town Reno