ADAM OSMOND: I was so addicted to gambling that it took over my life. COMM: Adam Osmond was once one of the most prolific gamblers in the US. ADAM OSMOND: This is probably about a million dollars, but then again, that’s only the last two years of my gambling. And that’s just a small part of it. I came here to go to college and I’ve been here ever since, I got married, have my children and I’ve been here almost 30 years now. CHARLIE: The tragic thing with Adam, he used his abilities, he used his hard work and he fell victim to one of the other things in America.
What I’ve heard called ‘The Jackpot Mentality.’ COMM: Adam used to run two convenience stores in Connecticut. Between 2002 and 2008 he started spending thousands of dollars on the lottery in his store every week. ADAM OSMOND: And the only reason why I was in that business was just to support my addiction. ADAM OSMOND: This is $10, it has never even been scratched. These are $30 a ticket. I would buy them by the book. Each book is 25 or 30 and you multiply 30×30, that’s about $900. So I was hiding the tickets from my family and I was so addicted to gambling that it took over my life. CHARLIE: He knew what he was doing was destroying himself and his family. COMM: In March 2008 Adam suffered a nervous breakdown after over a decade of compulsive gambling. ADAM OSMOND: The first week I printed about 54,000 tickets, none of them were cashed. I didn’t even check it, you cannot even possibly check all those numbers.
The Connecticut Lottery called me, because I didn’t pay for it, I couldn’t pay for it, I was crying for help. By law, they are supposed to shut my machine by that time. And the next week I printed tickets again, non-stop. COMM: For three weeks Adam printed over $250,000 worth of lotto tickets before his machine was finally shut down. ADAM OSMOND: The Connecticut Lottery did not shut my machine off when I was late payment or even when I print all those tickets, because I was very valuable to them and I was one of their best customers. COMM: He was the first and only gambling addict to be convicted for printing lottery tickets. ADAM OSMOND: It’s really sad because, you know, this used to be my family in here and now they’re not here. And, you know, when I look at it, the house, around the house and, you know, that was my daughter’s. COMM: After being charged, Adam was ordered to pay the sum of the tickets printed despite never cashing any of them in. CHARLIE: His wife and three children, three girls, had to go to Virginia to live with relatives, because of his financial ruin. And he sends money to them and he lives in squalor. ADAM OSMOND: And because of these tickets my family cannot live here and I’m still paying for these, a piece of papers that destroyed my family. And Connecticut Lottery would claim that this is revenue for the government. COMM: In the US, the odds of winning the overall lottery are approximately 1 in 258,000,000. In Connecticut, there are up to 9 lotto draws a day, each game costing between 50¢ and $5, with scratch cards on top of this priced from $1 up to $30 each. The Connecticut Lottery does run programs to support addicted gamblers and a percentage of the profits go towards government programs such as libraries, public safety and education. ADAM OSMOND: Since I stopped gambling, and when I hit the bottom, I picked up a better habit. ADAM OSMOND: When I was gambling, in my mind it was always numbers, numbers. I’ll be driving and if a bus drove in front of me, I would pick that number and I would say, “Oh, that, you know, that bus number had 3057”, and I would go to my store and play 3057, or whatever number that I saw. Sunshine – I run, snow – I run. COMM: In November 2015, 7 years after his original conviction, a new judge reviewed his case and found his original penalty to be illegal. He no longer has to pay back the remaining money from the uncashed tickets. ADAM OSMOND: And I would start running and again, I would tell my friends, “I’m running away from gambling”, and every time I’m running I’d say, “I’m running away from the lottery!”