In February of 2007, Mary (name changed) was a 49 year old executive of a major Swiss corporation and happily married with a 19 year old son. She had the cars, the houses and enjoyed frequent vacations at tropical beaches with exotic names. Today, Mary lives alone on welfare in a gloomy housing project in the Baden region and is on a tight budget. She is also divorced, unemployed, abandoned by her son and family and suffers from breast cancer.
Mary’s life began to disintegrate in 2007. She was first diagnosed with cancer which caused her marriage to fall apart. Her son decided to stay with his father, to remain near his friends, and Mary relocated to Baden. In 2009, Mary found a coupon for Grand Casino Baden: a catered lunch, along with a free 20CHF casino chip. Mary, who has never visited Swiss poker rooms or casinos before, decided to go. After lunch, she bet the free 20CHF chip on ’18’, her lucky number, on Roulette and won 700 francs.
$1US = 1CHF; 1EUR = 1.3CHF.
A week later, Mary went back to the casino and lost. She kept wondering – “Why is my lucky number not coming up a second time?” Mary began to visit the casino three or four times a week, “to be able to switch off from work and boredom.” Due to the wild swings of the roulette table, she began winning or losing $5,000US to $8,000US weekly. She began playing daily and lost her job.
After losing her savings, she borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars from parents, siblings, co-workers and friends by inventing intricate lies or playing on their sympathies. She decided to use future roulette winnings to pay interest payments. At one point, Mary lost close to $100,000, her son’s entire university tuition account, in an especially unlucky three day streak.
Close to 936 million CHF are wagered annually at the 19 casinos licensed under Swiss gambling laws.
Mary never tried playing online casino in Switzerland, where credit card may be used, because “I never had money for an Internet connection.” Today, Mary continues to gamble but has now sets personal limits. She admits that now she doesn’t walk inside a casino with more than 100 francs and never gambles more than once weekly. She regrets that nobody explained to her how to manage her gambling bankroll. She states that has three big wishes are: “I will beat cancer for good, finally go back to work and pay the debt.”