How gamblers lose track of time

    This summer, five time police have been called to the Parx casino parking lot because parents left their kids in the car.

    A Philadelphia mother faces charges of child endangerment after leaving her two kids in her car while she gambled inside the Parx Casino in Bensalem. Police say this is the fifth time this summer children were left in the casino parking lot as parents chased their luck inside. Gambling experts say this kind of behavior points to deeper problems.

    No windows and no clocks inside of casinos may be part of the reason people lose track of time while gambling. But former gambling addict turned gambling counselor C.P. Mirarchi says parents neglecting childcare responsibilities in favor of placing bets points to addiction:

    Mirarchi: Clearly when something like this happens they cross over the line into what we call compulsive gambling.

    Mirarchi says this kind of irresponsible behavior is common in people who have problems controlling their gambling habits:

    Mirarchi: In your mind, you really think, you’re going in there for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour, whatever it is and I will be right back, and then once you get in, the compulsion takes over, maybe you win and you want a little more, maybe you lose and you need to get that back you really do lose all track of time, I mean that’s why there’s no windows, no clocks in casinos.

    Psychologist and addiction counselor Jeremy Frank says people follow their addictions despite severe consequences and harm to their families, relationships and careers. He says the highs and lows addicts experience may change their brains, impairing functioning:

    Frank: That may account for an inability to see things clearly that there is cognitive distortion and an inability to do reality testing.

    Frank says children of people addicted to gambling are at higher risk for mental health issues, and repeating their parents’ negative behaviors.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.