On November 21, 2006, Jane Skavinsky, a woman from Morgantown that had been charged with embezzling about $250,000 to sustain her addiction to bingo games began counseling to cure her addiction. Skavinsky said that previously, she could not imagine her life without bingo. What began as a form of entertainment for Skavinsky became a full-fledged obsession back in 1991. She claims that at the height of her addiction she was playing 72 cards per bingo game. She always justifies her actions with the thoughts that she was playing for charity, an acceptable activity and a worthy cause within her community.
However, she eventually began steadily losing $300 to $500 per bingo night. At that point she started embezzling money from her employer, a well-known law firm in Morgantown, to sustain her gambling habit. In 2002, someone finally noticed her actions. Skavinsky said that she was facing about 216 criminal counts and they carried out a 1-10 year sentence so it totaled about 2,160 years in prison, but on January 2003, the grand jury indicted her on only 5 counts of embezzlement. Skavinsky readily admitted that she was guilty of the crimes she committed and that she deserved the punishment.
Nonetheless, she was given a chance to counsel people that have similar problems. Hence, she only spent about a year behind bars. Being a counselor to her fellow gambling addicts is part of her parole. Skavinsky is only one of many gamblers that have called the Problem Gambler's Hotline. About 4,000 people have joined Skavinsky. The vast number of members have been addicted to poker, slot machines, powerball and bingo. Skavinsky said that she had a hard time realizing she had a problem until she saw an ad on television asking "Do You have a Gambling Problem?"
There are weekly sessions at Gambler's Anonymous held every Tuesday in Clarksburg at the CBC Life Center and every Thursday at Scott's Run Settlement House in Morgantown.
Thursday, May 24, 2007