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Addict Tells His Story

15 October 2003

SANFORD, Maine – As reported by the (York County, Maine) Journal Tribune: "It's been more than 40 years since a bookie released Bob Egan from a $10,000 gambling debt.

"That was the end of his career as a guy who would bet on anything — horses, sporting events, you name it. But it wasn't the end. All these years later, Egan still calls himself a compulsive gambler and still feels the effects of a habit that started at age 12.

"Egan, a pastor currently without a pulpit, will tell his story Wednesday at a Casinos No!-sponsored forum at Christo's Place restaurant on Main Street.

"He will be joined by Rep. Mary Andrews, a co-founder of Casinos No! who will discuss the legislation that accompanies Question 3.

"…His gambling tale ended with his conviction for theft.

"As a young, newly married man just out of the Army, Egan said he had a promising career with a national retailer. But he was still gambling, and still winning a lot of money.

"…`I owed several thousand (to a bookie). I started stealing from my employer. I had tremendous guilt, I used to write down how much I was stealing with the intention to pay it back. I wanted to be honest. I was newly married and less and less, I couldn't trust myself,' Egan remembered.

"His employer caught on that money was missing and was about to blame another worker when Egan confessed. He went through the court system but did no jail time, and over the years made restitution.

"…Egan, distraught over a $10,000 gambling debt to a bookie, said he stole a gun from a friend and rode around for two months wondering if he'd have to use it. He said he finally threw the gun in a river, went to the bookie and said he couldn't pay. He said the bookie told him that he'd release him from his debt if he promised never to gamble again. The bookie also told him he would kill him if he gambled, or told anyone.

"…His religious conversion gave him the ability to talk about his experiences, he said. But the cut is still deep.

"…Egan's gambling didn't start in a casino, nor did it end there. He made one bus trip to Atlantic City years ago and said he felt his blood rushing. But he said he also saw the despair of the folks at the slot machines and remembers hearing the warnings from the bus driver not to venture outside…"

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