When Gambling Breaks the Bank
> 1/27/2006 8:38:02 AM

For anyone who hasn't seen this storyout of Lehigh, Pennsylvania, it's been a sad spectacle since lastmonth.  December 9th, 2005, the president of Lehigh University's classof 2008, Greg Hogan, walked into a Wachovia bank and demanded money andsaid he had a gun.  He made off with a little under $3,000, and wasarrested some time later in his fraternity house.

Hogan's storymade national headlines, which isn't surprising considering it's noteveryday that a successful, son of a minister, robs a bank.  Many newsoutlets snapped up the story when it was discovered that Hogan'smotivation was a $5,000 gambling debt that he ran up playing onlinepoker. 

CBS News 3, the Philadelphia affiliate, reported yesterdaythat Hogan has now entered a Louisiana addiction clinic for treatmentof his compulsive gambling.  His preliminary hearing has been pushedback until March, after he completes the 36 treatment course. 

IfHogan's attorney is looking for special treatment in the form of somesort of mental health defense, he has ground to stand on.  The jurywill more than likely see a wealthy, former prep school student who wascorrupted by the evils of online poker.  Beyond that, gamblingaddiction, or pathological gambling has been verified throughresearch.  A target=topJanuary 2003 studypublished in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that the DSM - IVguidelines, re-printed below, if followed, were valid and reliable indiagnosing pathological gambling, classified as an impulse controldisorder not elsewhere classified.

Another study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 2005,found that pathological gambling shares many of the same personalitytraits as other addictive disorders, and even with "the larger class of'externalizing' or 'disinhibitory' disorders."

Withoutknowing the particulars of the case, it is hard to say whether Hogantruly suffers from pathological gambling.  His behavior was clearlyirresponsible.  And the carelessness of his actions are compounded bythe fact that most (if not all) online poker venues can only be fundedby cash deposists i.e. they cannot process credit card transactions(this is because online gambling is still illegal in the U.S. and U.S.based credit card companies cannot do business with the sites).  Thatmeans that Hogan's addiction must have been fueled by some outsidesource of money, which provided him with cash upfront.  Because ofthis, it is clear that Hogan made not just one bad decision, butseveral that transformed his own poor poker ability into a thousanddollar debt.  If he does suffer from pathological gambling, hopefullyhe can get the treatment that he needs, but that does not excuse himfor answering for his crime the same way that a heroin, methamphetamineor cocaine addict would.


Diagnostic criteria for 312.31 Pathological Gambling

  1. Persistent and recurrent maladaptive gambling behavior as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
    1. ispreoccupied with gambling (e.g., preoccupied with reliving pastgambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, orthinking of ways to get money with which to gamble)
    2. needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement
    3. has repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling
    4. is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
    5. gamblesas a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood(e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)
    6. after losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even ("chasing" one's losses)
    7. lies to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling
    8. has committed illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement to finance gambling
    9. has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling
    10. relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling
  2. The gambling behavior is not better accounted for by a Manic Episode

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