Charities across the state, and for that matter nationwide, took a huge financial hit in the peak of the pandemic.  Many of those groups are still trying to navigate the changed landscape, although things like silent auctions and 5K walk/runs are being placed back on philanthropic social calendars.  But one other problem came to light in the pandemic, North Dakotan's seems to becoming more addicted to a dream.  The dream of hitting it big through gambling.

Even with bars closing for a period during the pandemic, the Associate Press is reporting that in 2021, the state wagered more than $881 million on gambling.  That's 50% more than the previous year.  That's unbelievable!  I apologize if it seems like I'm making dice out to be the villain here...they're not.  I'm sure craps money intake was way done this year- it's these boys here that brought in the bucks.

Electronic Pull Tabs, or E-tabs for short, have only been around for a little over two years but there are now 3,300 machines located in 95% of North Dakota's cities.  If your city has a bar, odd are it does, than odds are that bar's got E-tabs.

Gone are the days when you had to drive all the way to the casino to play the slots. Shoot, now it's just a stop after work for maybe a cocktail and a little friendly wagering.  The "friendly" part is that your donations go to charity.

Full disclosure, I've worked for charitable gaming groups in the past.  That's years of blackjack dealing, bingo calling, and pull tab selling.  So I've seen my fair share of "donations'.  But, the volume you can lose just sitting at a machine all by your lonesome is pretty incredible.  Hell, slots built Vegas- and, they built North Dakota's casinos!

Gambling is fun and sometimes you win!  I don't gamble much, because after working in gaming for years, you come to realize that "sometimes" ain't that often.  But we all have our little vices.

But back to the AP story highlighting the levels addicts reaching out to agencies such as Gambler's Choice, whose program head Lisa Vig, says 85% of those reaching out to the group cite e-tabs as the reason.

I'm the last to lecture on excess, just wanted you to know you're not alone.


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