The more we blame others, the more irresponsible we become

By The West Virginia Record | Oct 2, 2014

Scott Stevens liked to play the slots at  Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort so much that he embezzled $7 million from the company he worked for to do so.

After losing his job, he continued to gamble, visiting the casino nearly every day for the next 10 months and draining all of his family's savings in the process.

Two years ago, with no more money to blow, Stevens shot himself to death in a local park, after calling 911 and waiting for police to arrive.

Last month, one week shy of the two-year anniversary of her husband's suicide, Stacy Stevens filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia against Mountaineer Casino and the manufacturer of the slot machines installed there, blaming them both for the addiction that allegedly led to her husband's death.

Stevens says the machines were designed to be addictive and that casino personnel did nothing to stop her husband from playing them. She argues that they failed in their duty to monitor his behavior.

Yet, Stevens herself seems not to have been paying sufficient attention, and her husband's former employer appears to have been remiss as well.

After all, the employer somehow missed the embezzlement of $7 million. And Stevens, even after her husband was fired for stealing such an enormous sum, evidently remained oblivious as her family's savings dwindled.

Should casinos allow gamblers to lose more money than they can afford to lose? No.

The fact remains that it is not ultimately the responsibility of a purveyor of goods or services to babysit its customers and make sure they stay within limits appropriate to them. Nor does any foolproof method exist for determining what those limits are for each individual and monitoring them accordingly.

A case can be made against legalized gambling, but, instead of making it, Stevens is using a long-shot lawsuit to try to hit the jackpot that eluded her husband.

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