Gambling on COAMs
Some gas stations and convenience stores in Georgia are harboring a secret: They are paying out cash on coin-operated amusement machines (COAMs).
While the video slots are legal in the state, paying out money on them isn’t because gambling is illegal in Georgia under a 2013 state law, reports Fox 28 Media.
Under the law, COAMs are legal as long as they’re registered through the Georgia Lottery. But rather than receiving money for winning on the machines, people can win only lottery tickets and store credits. Nevertheless, a significant number of stores are paying out cash, according to Eric Groh, president of the Georgia Council on Problem Gambling.
The implications are obvious, Groh says.
Gamblers that I talk with seeking help with machines report that they can go to most stores and get cash payout.
Of course, while it’s illegal, video slots are big business. So much so, that the GBI Commercial Gambling Unit states that last year people in Georgia put $2.5bn (£1.9bn) into the machines and won back about $1.8bn (£1.4bn) worth of credits.
While the GBI doesn’t know the exact figure that is paid out in cash, they are aware of people using them to win money. For some, though, the fact that they are using these machines could eventually lead to a gambling addiction, said Groh, adding that “gambling addiction, in general, is a dirty secret anywhere around the country including Georgia.”
Gambling takes a dark turn
While gambling may be an innocent activity for many people, for countless others there are repercussions, particularly when events turn violent.
For instance, a 95-year-old man was knocked down in Australia last month and thieves stole AU$6,250 (£3,400; $4,300) of his life savings to then gamble it all away at The Star Sydney casino.
In a more recent case, poker pro Joe Salvaggi was robbed at gunpoint outside the World Series of Poker venue in Las Vegas during the early hours of Monday morning. It’s not known how much money was stolen from him, but he took to Twitter to state that a guy demanded his backpack “with thousands in it.”
In an even more sinister turn of events, a 47-year-old chef stabbed and killed his wife after losing thousands on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). According to a report, the man, who was known as the “angry Indian” because of his outbursts when he lost, “cut, stabbed, slashed, or chopped” at his wife 58 times when they had a row about money.
These are just a few examples of when people who have gambling problems take drastic action in order to get the money they need to continue placing bets. It may start out as something fun, but it just shows how quickly things can spiral out of control as well.
In the case of the COAMs, it may be a little entertainment for some people, but for others it could turn into something worse.