News 12 at 11 o'clock, March 19, 2009
AUGUSTA, Ga.---A South Carolina legislator recently introduced a bill that would legalize social gambling and gambling-themed fundraisers.
But it's not a law yet, and that means poker night, if money's involved, is still illegal in both Georgia and South Carolina.
But aside from being against the law, the good times that gambling provides can turn into a dangerous game that can ruin lives.
Poker. One game. Many forms. Sometimes it's blackjack. Other times 5 card stud. And then there's Texas hold 'em. Deal the cards, bet your chips. Then pray to the gods of spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds, that your hand is good enough to win.
For Adam, Robbie, Adam and Nicole. Poker is a way to pass the time.
"Hanging out with friends." "Just a way to spend a Saturday. Guy time hanging out." were among the reasons they gave for playing.
Guy time that occasionally includes a girl.
"Ohhhh. king high!" new player Nicole exclaimed.
But chances are good, that may never happen again after this game.
"I'm so money tonight. I've never played that good before." Nicole said.
Sometimes, money can be involved. But never much.
"5 dollars at the most." Adam said.
"It's never about the money." Robbie told us.
But when it does become about the money, that's when trouble can happen.
Not many arrests are made for it, but gambling is illegal.
More than a dozen people were arrested at a house in Martinez a little more than a week ago for gambling. The homeowner was charged with a felony. Most of the others were charged with misdemeanors.
And it can have much bigger consequences than simply getting arrested.
"I have spent $1000 at a time. Money I didn't have."
That's what Charles Strickland said he spent on on lottery tickets. And it cost him much more than that.
"What did you lose besides a lot of money?" I asked him.
"My wife. probably the most important thing in my life next to my son. That hit like a ton of bricks." he responded.
We'll get back to Charles in just a second.
We found gambling certainly is not just for older folks. We headed out to Augusta State and discovered plenty of young ones too.
"It's fun sometimes to do with your friends. It's a way to hang out with the guys. It's good fellowship." We were told.
Fellowship with a little money on the line.
"Some cost $5. Others are $5 to $10" one student said..
All kidding aside, gambling can turn into a disease and as Charles Strickland found out, you can end up gambling your entire life away.
"It took away the most important things in my life. A lot of that you'll never get back." Charles said.
Friday night on News 12 at 6 o'clock, find out how Charles hit rock bottom and how he's scratched and clawed just to get his head back above water.