By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung
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Videographer / director: Bert Klasey
Producer: Crystal Chung, Ellie Winstanley
Editor: Joshua Douglas
Adam Osmond built up his own convenience store business after studying for a business degree but lost everything after his gambling addiction saw him buying thousands of dollars worth of lottery tickets every week.
Adam, 49, said: “In the beginning my gambling was just a few dollars, but as time went by it got worse. And as my income increased it got even worse. The worst part of my gambling was between 2002 and 2008.
“At the end I was buying thousands of dollars of lottery tickets each week. Whenever I won I would put everything back into the lottery, plus all my income from my business and my full time job."
Unknown to his family and friends, Adam was spending all of his working days gambling in his store.
He explained: “When I had my own store it was like having your own casino, it was me and the machine all the time.
“I spent all the days there when I was gambling and most Saturdays and Sundays I would open the store so I gambled through the whole day.”
The 49-year-old bought his first lottery ticket back in 1986 but his gambling started to spiral out of control in 2007 as he hit play on a gamble worth $50,000.
Osmond said: “In November 2007 I was playing small play and I hit a play that was worth $50,000 a ticket.
“As a gambler, the worst thing that could happen to you is to win big because if you win big it’s downhill from there. Because for a compulsive gambler it’s not about the win, it’s about the next hit. So when you hit a $50,000 you think, now we can do even more.
“And when I cashed in the ticket, it was about $37,500 after the tax. Within a week I played all of that and more. All my income and the whole $37,500.”
However, despite Adam buying such significant amounts of tickets in his own store everyday, the Connecticut Lottery showed little concern.
“As long as I was paying them every week, they didn’t really care.” He said.
In March 2008, Adam suffered from a nervous breakdown after more than a decade of compulsive gambling, and he printed out 54,000 tickets without cashing a single one.
Osmond explained: “I printed about 54,000 tickets and none of them were cashed. I didn’t even check it. There is no way you could possibly check all those numbers, and the lottery called me because I didn’t pay for it. I couldn’t pay for it, I was crying for help.”
For three weeks Adam had printed over $250,000 worth of lottery tickets before his machine was finally shut down.
He was then ordered to pay the sum of the tickets printed, despite never cashing any of them in.
Adam said: “The money could have been spent on my family and savings. Also I could have paid in full for my house by now.
“Over the years I paid back thousands of dollars to the Connecticut Lottery but last year the court decided the court order was illegal and that I didn’t have to pay any more, because the tickets were not cashed yet. But I lost everything.
“My lowest point was when I closed my business and my family found out about my addiction. I regret letting down my family and friends.”
Since Adam stopped gambling in 2008, he has picked up a much healthier habit and is now an avid runner, having run over 200 road races including marathons and ultra marathons.
He is also in the process of running in all 169 towns in Connecticut, having already completed 135.
He said: “My life is lot better compared to my gambling days. My family are doing great but financially I'm still recovering from my addiction.”
Adam is also working as an accountant and helps others by using his data analysis skills to show the public the dark side of gambling.
“Helping others has also helped me, I have testified in the state capital to fund gambling treatment programs.
“I also help other recovering addicts by introducing them to running. I'm in the process of getting my running coaching certification and I hope to one day write a book about my addiction and my journey to recovery.
“I want people to know addiction can happen to anyone. It will start small and then get bigger until it takes over your life, but there is hope if you are willing to stop it.”
To find out more about Adam’s story, and to watch director Bert Klasey’s full documentary “Out of Luck” which examines the system of state lotteries in the US, visit: http://www.outofluckmovie.com/#!about-the-film/ovc04