When Deanna and her younger sisters were in elementary school, their stay-at-home mom was actively involved in their church. It was there that their mom developed an interest in bingo, as part of church fundraisers.

“My mom loved the social element of bingo,” says Deanna. “She’d meet up with her friends, drink a bunch of coffee, smoke cigarette after cigarette, and have a good time.”

Over time, however, her mom’s interest in bingo intensified. 
“It became a crutch after a while. Bingo was her way of coping with her life. My dad was away a lot, and when he was home he drank a lot and made her miserable.”

By the time Deanna was in high school, her mom was using all of her spending money and some of the family’s grocery and clothing money to play bingo. 

“I was the only one of my sisters who got a new dress for graduation,” Deanna explains. “My younger sister got a second-hand dress. And my youngest sister didn’t get anything. My mom spent all of her money on bingo and she forgot to save some to get a dress for my sister.” 

When Deanna’s mom moved away from the family home and got a job and an apartment, Deanna and her sisters were angry. They felt that bingo—and later keno—was more important to her than her children. 

“She wanted a new life where no one bothered her about her gambling,” says Deanna. “She had a boyfriend for a while, but when he started questioning her gambling, she got rid of him.”

After time, Deanna and her sisters learned to accept their mom’s choices. They even bought her a laptop so she could gamble online at home instead of having to head out in the snow all the way to the mall to play keno.

When her mom passed away, Deanna made peace with her mom. 

“She was alone when she passed away. And we found out later that she was basically penniless. But she was happy in her own way.”

To think about – or discuss with a friend

  • Why do you think some people lose their way with gambling?
  • Do people have the right to gamble even if it means giving up their loved ones?
  • Do you think a person can be happy with gambling at the centre of their lives?