There is a darker side to the gambling capital of the world – a homeless community living in underground tunnels and struggling with addiction. Hundreds of homeless people are currently living in Las Vegas’s Flood channels. Nattrour a resident of the city’s underbelly says, “there’s no better place to be homeless than the Strip. Tourists drop money on the ground. Gamblers give winnings away or leave slot machines loaded with credits. Sometimes people nod off at gaming machines, allowing men like me to withdraw cash vouchers on the sly.” Many have lost their way in Las Vegas due to the accessibility of gambling, drinking, and drugs.
“I should have been out of here a couple of months ago. I just got depressed,” Nattrour said. “I don’t even drink, but I bought a cocktail. And the next thing I know, I’m gambling. I spent $60 of my social security check on dope and over $600 playing slot machines.”
Many residents of the underground tunnel are living there by choice to satisfy their drug, drinking, or gambling addictions. Aitcheson who prefers gambling and lives down under says “I don’t know how many times I’ve walked into a casino with $20, hit $600, and spent every dime of it playing every other machine in the house.” According to experts at the Problem Gambling Center, people addicted to gambling don’t want to feel or deal with anything. They gamble as a means of escaping their problems. Frank Parenti, behavioural health services manage at HELP says,
“I would assume as a homeless person, someone that has pretty much hit rock bottom, they don’t have anywhere else to turn. In their mind probably, what’s the point. What I can do is take this $5 I’ve made getting change from people and turn it into a $100,000 and get my home back, get my wife back, try to get my life back on track. But that’s not the way it works.”
As much as gambling can be fun, it can also be highly addictive and for this reason, many casinos come up with stringent measures to address the problem. Measures such as placing a limit to the time spent in the casino, the deposits made, and the wagers made. A few tips from us would be; play with what you can lose, never chase your money, take breaks, and most importantly know when to stop.