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High Stakes: The Rising Cost of America's Gambling Addiction Hardcover – July 5, 2011


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High Stakes: The Rising Cost of America's Gambling Addiction + Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas + The Biggest Game in Town
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807006297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807006290
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #805,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“This important book will be of interest to all Americans but should be required reading for politicians who see gambling as a panacea for their state’s fiscal problems.”—Library Journal 

“Read this book: If you have a casino near your home. If you know someone who gambles. If you have kids. If you gamble. Sam Skolnik has drawn from a mind-boggling array of sources and data on gambling pathology and casino-industry economics, proving that, like it or not, casinos and gambling addiction are inexorably entwined."─Christina Binkley, author of Winner Takes All: Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian, Gary Loveman, and the Race to Own Las Vegas and columnist for The Wall Street Journal

“Combining his award-winning skills as an investigative reporter with his insights as a gambler, Sam Skolnik’s High Stakes examines the underbelly of America’s addiction to gambling. Propelled by the gambling industry’s promises of jobs and economic development, and ushered in by politicians assuring painless revenue streams, Skolnik reveals the truth in this important and long overdue book. High Stakes is a must read for every citizen who wants to understand the true cost of legalized gambling.”—Reverend Tom Grey, Field Coordinator and National Spokesperson for the Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation

“High Stakes pulls off the blinders and reveals the hidden impact of America’s runaway love-affair with gambling. A veteran journalist, Sam Skolnik tells this story with the added chilling authority of someone struggling to control his own poker habit. The result is a fascinating glimpse at the gaming industry’s seductive appeal and the price we're paying as gambling is legalized more and more around the country.”─Pete Earley, author of Super Casino: Inside the "New" Las Vegas  

“Sam Skolnik takes you into compelling territory—the nation’s trillion-dollar gambling empire, the world of pathological addiction it has spawned, and its deceitful public relations spin.  With the research skills of a journalist, a cast of poignant characters, and a provocative personal story, Skolnik’s High Stakes is an important exposé.”—Sally Denton, investigative reporter and co-author of The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and its Hold on America
 

About the Author

Sam Skolnik began his journalism career as a news aide and freelance writer for The Washington Post. He went on to report for Legal Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the Las Vegas Sun. He's won several national journalism awards and was selected to be a Knight-Wallace journalism fellow for 2007-08.

More About the Author

Sam Skolnik began his journalism career as a news aide and freelance writer for The Washington Post. He went on to report for Legal Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the Las Vegas Sun. He's won several national journalism awards and was selected to be a Knight-Wallace journalism fellow for 2007-08.

-Learn more about High Stakes at www.samskolnik.com
-Follow Sam Skolnik on Twitter at @samskolnik

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Customer Reviews

This book is overall well written and organized.
Bass Cadet
"High Stakes" by Sam Skolnik is an excellent book for those who want to learn about the social costs of America's addiction to gambling.
Malvin
Don't gamble alone, only use the cash you brought with you, and never gamble money that will hurt if you lose it.
Bradley Bevers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alan A. Elsner VINE VOICE on June 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sam Skolnik makes an admission right upfront in this penetrating look into America's gambling habit: he himself has been grappling with a gambling addiction for the past 10 years.It has not killed him or driven him into bankruptcy or to suicide or to drugs or crime -- but it has degraded his performance as a human being and a responsible citizen. He has left bills unpaid, borrowed irresponsibly, neglected his career and allowed important personal relationships to wither.

Skolnik's point is well-taken. What has happened to him on a personal level is happening to the whole country. Gambling is not killing America -- but it is subtly degrading its performance, making us a worse country, morally, economically and socially.

This is a well-researched and well-written book, full of sad personal histories. Skolnik makes the point that gambling is at its heart a giant system for redistributing wealth away from the poor who can least afford it and into the pocket of powerful lobbies and corporations. Just as individuals become hooked on gambling, states, cities and communities become hooked on the taxes they gather from the industry -- which do not cover the social costs that gambling creates. Cities and states may resist allowing casinos to establish themselves -- but the gambling industry can lose vote after vote -- until they finally win one. Once they win, they are in -- and they're never going away.

Gambling, in the words of one economist quoted here, is a "sterile transfer of money, creating no new value." Like prisons, it brings low-paid jobs into communities that need them -- but it sucks money from the weakest members of society.

Skolink's portrait of Las Vegas is particularly chilling.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tory VINE VOICE on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have never gambled in my life. Ever, yet this was an engaging book to read. First, the introduction is heartbreaking. Even though the author perhaps wasn't as bad off as some people with gambling addictions, it was still hard to read about his struggles. "It's not easy to write these things. There's a certain shame attached to confessing a gambling addiction in our culture, even more so than copping to being an alcoholic or a cocaine addict. Many still believe that people gamble excessively because of a lack of willpower or because they're simply immoral. these antiquated beliefs are beginning to fad, as doctors, scientists, and researchers are increasingly concluding that pathological gambling is a behavioral addiction that affects the brain in much the same way as substance dependencies."

But this isn't just a memoir about the author's struggle with addiction, though that component adds so much to this book! The statistics, insights, and way he writes about it makes this book a worthy and compelling read. I learned so much, and I learned to have compassion on the people yet recognize the harmful attributes of gambling, both in personal lives, and in communities,

If you are addicted to gambling, or know people who are, or just want to gather more facts and perspective on gambling, I highly recommend this well-researched book. One could argue that he's biased due to his struggle, but his perspective makes it even more of a reason to read this book and consider these things. Add to that, the style of writing, tone of this book is one that draws you into what (for some) could be perceived as a boring subject. This is not a boring subject; it is one that each of us should be aware of and learn more about. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have read this book and I hope it makes an impact on others who read it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By N. B. Kennedy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an extremely well-researched and reported book about the gambling life and the toll it takes on individuals and on society. The author examines not only the end result of gambling, but also its roots, the reason games of chance appeal to the human psyche.

Mr. Skolnik delves deeply into facets of gambling that I've never seen addressed before; for example, the particular allure of gambling in Asian cultures. He interviews dozens of people, gamblers themselves as well as those involved in both promoting and regulating the gambling industry. His narrative is enlivened by these insightful conversations.

I looked in vain, though, for a chapter on gambling and the elderly. Living as close to Atlantic City as I do, I find it puzzling and sad that those who can least afford to gamble -- the elderly who live mostly on Social Security and Medicaid -- flock to casinos that cold-heartedly take their food, utility and rent money, luring them there with shuttle buses and free buffet tickets. My spouse's elderly aunt kept a shelf full of "lucky" elephants that she took on her trips to the casinos. She bragged about wins that were obviously fictitious, given her living situation. It makes me angry even today.

The author also undercuts his arguments against gambling by confessing his own penchant for poker. While he recognizes in his head the dangers of high-stakes poker, and admits the money he has lost to it, the aversion hasn't taken hold in his heart. His continuing fascination for the game is obvious, and to me, equally as sad as any of the other stories he tells in this book. "For what it's worth, I was ranked by the site [a poker industry website] to be among the top 4,100 poker tournament players in the world." What is that worth, Mr. Skolnik? I'd love to read more of this author's personal story when he finally does fold.
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