Image-Leisa's Story

Testimony given to the Missouri House Ways and Means Committee
Spring of 1997

A wife and mother's sad testimony of how her husband's gambling addiction destroyed her home and family and turned a loving husband and father into a man she no longer recognized.

My name is Liesa. I am 38, a wife, a mother of two and a teacher in the public school system. I was born and raised in Missouri and reside in west St. Louis County. I am strongly opposed to the House Bill No. 460 on gambling. I am opposed because of what the gaming industry and the casino boats in particular have done to me and my children. They have robbed us of a husband and a father. You see, my husband of 10 1/2 years started visiting your boats for "fun", only he got hooked. He has become a compulsive gambler. My story is heartbreaking. But all too soon my story will become a reality of what will happen to thousands of other Missouri families if these gambling boats and casinos are not driven out of our state!

Due to the short amount of time allotted to me, I will be brief. It is very difficult for me to be here today and relive the pain of the last six years. But the victims need a voice and our Missouri children who have been abandoned by their gambling parents need a voice. So... today my prayer is that you representatives hear a voice speaking out. Please STOP the gambling industry from destroying more of our homes and lives.

My husband, 41 years old, was very talented, charming and an extremely bright individual. College educated and at one time a professional baseball player. He had become a top sales person in the company he worked for. He was a good provider, a good employee, a good husband, a good father. A good man!

This is not the man that I live with today. He has become a liar, a thief, an abuser, a poor employee, a pitiful husband and an absent father. How did such a strong and successful man change? By visiting the "boats of fun" and becoming addicted.

My life and the lives of my children have been utterly destroyed by these boats and casinos. To condense six years into 3 minutes... my life went from living in a $300,000 home, driving a nice car, able to be a stay-at-home mom, nurturing my children, living and loving a man who loved me and his children, to the reality of my husband finding the boats and I finding myself separated on the brink of divorce, a single mom.

I had to work four part-time jobs all at the same time, creditors knocking at my door. I had to go on foreclosure. The material things don't even matter. The greatest sadness was to watch the man I loved turn into a degenerate! He would do anything to get back in action. Last year he even pawned his wedding ring. All this over his obsession with the gambling boats.

How ironic when in December of 1993, I received a newsletter in the mail from one of the more popular gambling boats. Splashed across the pages were "Happy Holidays, To All". What a slap to us. You see I, nor my children, would be having a holiday at all, let alone a happy one. There was no money and no gifts for them. The boats had gotten it all. What the gaming industry has tried to pass off as "entertainment" is the biggest lie facing our nation today. In reality it is legalized and government condoned stealing. The government has turned their backs on stories like mine, because of their payoffs, kick-backs and their piece of the pie. Government and all officials have turned a blind eye and left thousands of our families, cut and bleeding and you have walked away. I am only one voice, but I speak today for thousands of devastated Missouri families.

My story closes with HOPE. Hope in Jesus who has brought me through this Hell. Hope because my husband has been clean from gambling for 33 days today. We are trying to pick up the pieces from the debris and make our marriage work. By God's love and mercy my husband is in recovery. But I know I, nor my two precious children, will ever be the same. We may never recover from this holocaust that the gambling industry has caused in our lives.

But... I am here today stronger and wiser... a voice crying out to you. Stop the destruction... stop the devastation... stop making our children pay by losing their parents. Stop them!

Thank you.

"Gambling - Good for Missouri, or a Bad Bet?"
September 15, 1998