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Synopsis

America is becoming hooked on gambling. From the millions of dens and dorm rooms lit by online poker games to the neighborhoods transformed by new casinos and slot machine parlors, legalized gambling has become an integral part of our lives.

With a singular blend of investigative journalism and poignant narratives of gambling addiction, award-winning journalist Sam Skolnik provides an in-depth exploration of the consequences of this national phenomenon. The result is High Stakes, an unflinching look at the explosive growth of legalized gambling in our country, the concurrent rise of addicted gamblers, and what it all means.

Thirty-five years ago, casinos were legal in just one state, Nevada. Today, legalized gambling has morphed into a $92 billion industry established in all but two states. As elected officials are urging voters to expand gambling’s reach, the industry’s supporters and their equally impassioned detractors are squaring off in prolonged state-by-state battles. Millions of Americans are being asked to decide: Are the benefits worth the costs?

Industry officials and their political allies assert that gambling is an effective way to raise revenue and create jobs. But these rewards come at a steep price. Fast-rising numbers of addicted gamblers are causing higher indebtedness and bankruptcy rates, as well as increased divorces, suicides, and gambling-related crime. Skolnik shows how the gambling industry is targeting Asian Americans—and why this population, more than any other ethnic group, is likely to develop gambling problems. He also illustrates how gambling has helped turn Las Vegas into America’s most dysfunctional community, and how the upsurge of poker and Internet gambling has created a new generation of gambling junkies.

In High Stakes, we meet politicians eager to promote legalized gambling as an economic cure-all, scientists wrestling with the meaning of gambling addiction, and ensnared players so caught up in the chase that they’ve lost their livelihoods and their minds. Throughout it all, Skolnik—an avid poker player—never loses sight of the human side of these struggles.


From the Hardcover edition.

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